The Structure and Form of the French Enlightenment, Volume 2: Esprit Revolutionnaire

Princeton University Press
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The author describes the influence on the Enlightenment of the intellectual currents that had been active in France, particularly the historical and humanistic esprit critique and the scientific esprit moderne. The second volume probes the writings of Morelly, Helvetius, Holbach, Mably, and Condorcet as they reveal the transformation of the esprit philosophique into the esprit revolutionnaire.

Originally published in 1978.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Mar 8, 2015
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Pages
468
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ISBN
9781400871636
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / History & Surveys / General
Philosophy / History & Surveys / Modern
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The idea of enlightenment entails liberty, equality, rationalism, secularism, and the connection between knowledge and well being. In spite of the setbacks of revolutionary violence, mass murder, and two world wars, the spread of enlightenment values is still the yardstick by which moral, political, and scientific advances are measured. In On Enlightenment, David Stove attacks the roots of enlightenment thought to define its successes, limitations, and areas of likely failures.

Stove champions the use of reason and recognizes the falsity of religious claims as well as the importance of individual liberty. He rejects the enlightenment's uncritical optimism regarding social progress and its willingness to embrace revolutionary change. What evidence is there that the elimination of superstition will lead to happiness? Or that it is possible to accept Darwinism without Social Darwinism? Or that the enlightenment's liberal, rationalistic outlook will lead to the social progress envisioned by its advocates?

Despite best intentions, says Stove, social reformers who attempt to improve the world inevitably make things worse. He advocates a conservative approach to change, pointing out that social structures are so large and complex that any widespread social reform will have innumerable unforeseen consequences. Writing in the tradition of Edmund Burke with the same passion for clarity and intellectual honesty as George Orwell, David Stove was one of the most articulate and insightful philosophers of his day.

The Sovereignty of Reason is a survey of the rule of faith controversy in seventeenth-century England. It examines the arguments by which reason eventually became the sovereign standard of truth in religion and politics, and how it triumphed over its rivals: Scripture, inspiration, and apostolic tradition. Frederick Beiser argues that the main threat to the authority of reason in seventeenth-century England came not only from dissident groups but chiefly from the Protestant theology of the Church of England. The triumph of reason was the result of a new theology rather than the development of natural philosophy, which upheld the orthodox Protestant dualism between the heavenly and earthly. Rationalism arose from a break with the traditional Protestant answers to problems of salvation, ecclesiastical polity, and the true faith. Although the early English rationalists were not able to defend all their claims on behalf of reason, they developed a moral and pragmatic defense of reason that is still of interest today.

Beiser's book is a detailed examination of some neglected figures of early modern philosophy, who were crucial in the development of modern rationalism. There are chapters devoted to Richard Hooker, the Great Tew Circle, the Cambridge Platonists, the early ethical rationalists, and the free-thinkers John Toland and Anthony Collins.

Originally published in 1996.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

With the same sense of historical responsibility and veracity he has exemplified in his studies on Voltaire, Ira O. Wade turns now to Voltaire's milieu and begins an account of the French Enlightenment which will explain its genesis, its nature and coherence, and its diffusion in the modern world. To understand the movement of ideas that produced the spirit of the Enlightenment, Mr. Wade identifies and examines the people, events, and rich development of philosophy in the Renaissance and seventeenth century. He considers, in turn, the challenges of the Renaissance and the responses of its leading writers (Rabelais, Bacon, and Montaigne); Baroque thought (Descartes, Hobbes, Pascal, the Freethinkers); and Classicism (Moliere, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Newton). Mr. Wade begins his discussion by examining the critical literature on the Enlightenment and concludes with a theoretical chapter, "The Making of a Spirit." As the history of an intellectual culture, his study makes vivid the power of thought in the making of a civilization.

Originally published in 1971.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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