Prophecy and Reason: The Dutch Collegiants in the Early Enlightenment

Princeton University Press
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During the second half of the seventeenth century the entire intellectual framework of educated Europe underwent a radical transformation. A secularized view of humanity and nature was replacing faith in the direct operation of God's will in the temporal world, while a growing confidence in human reason and the Scientific Revolution turned back the epistemological skepticism spawned by the Reformation. By focusing on the Dutch Collegiants, a radical Protestant group that flourished in Holland from 1620 to 1690, Andrew Fix explicates the mechanisms at work in this crucial intellectual transition from traditional to modern European worldview. Starting from Rijnsburg, near Leiden, the Collegiants spread over the course of the century to every major Dutch city. At the same time, their thinking evolved from a millenarian spiritualism influenced heavily by the sixteenth-century Radical Reformation to a philosophical rationalism similar to the ideas of Spinoza. Fix has taken on an important topic in the history of ideas: the circumstances under which natural reason came to be accepted as an autonomous source of truth for the individual conscience. He also has fresh and concrete things to say about the relationship between religion and science in early modern European history.

Originally published in 1990.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jul 14, 2014
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Pages
292
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ISBN
9781400861927
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / Renaissance
Religion / Christianity / Protestant
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Arguably the most decisive shift in the history of ideas in modern times was the complete demolition during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - in the wake of the Scientific Revolution - of traditional structures of authority, scientific thought, and belief by the new philosophy and the philosophes, culminating in Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau. In this revolutionary process which effectively overthrew all justicfication for monarchy, aristocracy, and ecclesiastical power, as well as man's dominance over woman, theological dominance of education, and slavery, substituting the modern principles of equality, democracy, and universality, the Radical Enlightenment played a crucially important part. Despite the present day interest in the revolutions of the late eighteenth century, the origins and rise of the Radical Enlightenment have been astonishingly little studied doubtless largely because of its very wide international sweep and the obvious difficulty of fitting in into the restrictive conventions of 'national history' which until recently tended to dominate all historiography. The greatest obstacle to the Radical Enlightenment finding its proper place in modern historical writing is simply that it was not French, British, German, Italian, Jewish or Dutch, but all of these at the same time. In this novel interpretation of the Radical Enlightenment down to La Mettie and Diderot, two of its key exponents, particular stress is placed on the pivotal role of Spinoza and the widespread underground international philosophical movement known before 1750 as Spinozism.
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