The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters

The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters

Anthony Pagden / Jul 20, 2019

The Enlightenment And Why It Still Matters One of our most renowned and brilliant historians takes a fresh look at the revolutionary intellectual movement that laid the foundation for the modern world Liberty and equality Human rights Freedom

  • Title: The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters
  • Author: Anthony Pagden
  • ISBN: 9780679645313
  • Page: 263
  • Format: ebook
  • One of our most renowned and brilliant historians takes a fresh look at the revolutionary intellectual movement that laid the foundation for the modern world Liberty and equality Human rights Freedom of thought and expression Belief in reason and progress The value of scientific inquiry These are just some of the ideas that were conceived and developed during the EOne of our most renowned and brilliant historians takes a fresh look at the revolutionary intellectual movement that laid the foundation for the modern world Liberty and equality Human rights Freedom of thought and expression Belief in reason and progress The value of scientific inquiry These are just some of the ideas that were conceived and developed during the Enlightenment, and which changed forever the intellectual landscape of the Western world Spanning hundreds of years of history, Anthony Pagden traces the origins of this seminal movement, showing how Enlightenment concepts directly influenced modern culture, making possible a secular, tolerant, and, above all, cosmopolitan world Everyone can agree on its impact But in the end, just what was Enlightenment A cohesive philosophical project A discrete time period in the life of the mind when the superstitions of the past were overthrown and reason and equality came to the fore Or an open ended intellectual process, a way of looking at the world and the human condition, that continued long after the eighteenth century ended To address these questions, Pagden introduces us to some of the unforgettable characters who defined the Enlightenment, including David Hume, the Scottish skeptic who advanced the idea of a universal science of man Fran ois Marie Arouet, better known to the world as Voltaire, the acerbic novelist and social critic who challenged the authority of the Catholic Church and Immanuel Kant, the reclusive German philosopher for whom the triumph of a cosmopolitan world represented the final stage in mankind s evolution Comprehensive in his analysis of this heterogeneous group of scholars and their lasting impact on the world, Pagden argues that Enlightenment ideas go beyond the empire of reason to involve the full recognition of the emotional ties that bind all human beings together The human science developed by these eminent thinkers led to a universalizing vision of humanity, a bid to dissolve the barriers past generations had attempted to erect between the different cultures of the world A clear and compelling explanation of the philosophical underpinnings of the modern world, The Enlightenment is a scintillating portrait of a period, a critical moment in history, and a revolution in thought that continues to this day.Praise for Anthony Pagden s Worlds at War, winner of the Washington Institute Book Prize Bold, panoramic and highly readable, at times a page turner The New York Times Book Review A masterpiece of stunning scope, readability, and relevance Worlds at War makes epic battles of the past come alive as illuminations of what is happening today in Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan Strobe Talbott, author of The Great Experiment A grand synthesis of military and intellectual history, political philosophy and theology, Worlds at War delivers the old fashioned pleasures of vivid prose and lively narration Newsday Absorbing Pagden writes smart, fluent, lively prose His book is a pleasure to read The Houston Chronicle Timely and provocative enlightening The Plain DealerFrom the Hardcover edition.

    What Was the Enlightenment Live Science The Most Age of Enlightenment Enlightenment definition of enlightenment by The Free Enlightenment A philosophical movement of the s that emphasized the use of reason to scrutinize previously accepted doctrines and traditions and that brought about many humanitarian reforms Buddhism Hinduism A state in which the individual transcends desire and suffering and attains nirvana. The Enlightenment period article Khan Academy The Enlightenment The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was an intellectual and cultural movement in the eighteenth century that emphasized reason over Enlightenment Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Enlightenment The dramatic success of the new science in explaining the natural world promotes philosophy from a handmaiden of theology, constrained by its purposes and methods, to an independent force with the power and authority to challenge the old and The Enlightenment And Why It Still Matters Anthony A clear and compelling explanation of the philosophical underpinnings of the modern world, The Enlightenment is a scintillating portrait of a period, a critical moment in history, and a revolution in thought that continues to this day Praise for The Enlightenment Sweeping . SparkNotes The Enlightenment Overview The Enlightenment was a sprawling intellectual, philosophical, cultural, and social movement that spread through England, France, Germany, and other parts of Europe during the s. A Beginner s Guide to the Enlightenment ThoughtCo The Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries era was followed by that of a reaction, Romanticism, a turn back to the emotional instead of the rational, and a counter Enlightenment. Enlightenment Definition, History, Facts Britannica Enlightenment, French sicle des Lumires literally century of the Enlightened , German Aufklrung, a European intellectual movement of the th and th centuries in which ideas concerning God, reason, nature, and humanity were synthesized into a worldview that gained wide assent in the West and that instigated revolutionary developments in art, philosophy, and politics. Major Themes of the Enlightenment Reason, Individualism Enlightenment thinking helped give rise to deism, which is the belief that God exists, but does not interact supernaturally with the universe Isaac Newton was another key figure of the Enlightenment.

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    About "Anthony Pagden"

      • Anthony Pagden

        Anthony Pagden was educated in Santiago Chile , London, Barcelona and Oxford and holds a B.A M.A and D.Phil from the University of Oxford He has been a free lance translator and a publisher in Paris a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, Senior Research Fellow of the Warburg Institute London , Professor of History at the European University Institute Florence , University Reader in Intellectual History and Fellow of King s College, Cambridge and the Harry C Black Professor of History at Johns Hopkins He joined UCLA in the Fall of 2002 His research has concentrated on the relationship between the peoples of Europe and its overseas settlements and those of the non European world from the Atlantic to the Pacific He is primarily interested in the political theory of empire, in how the West sought to explain to itself how and why it had come to dominate so much of the world, and in the present consequences of the erosion of that domination His research has led to an interest in the formation of the modern concept of Europe and most recently in the roots of the conflict between the West and the predominantly Muslim East He has also written on the history of law, and on the ideological sources of the independence movements in Spanish America, and is currently completing a book on cosmopolitanism and the Enlightenment He has written or edited some fifteen books, the most recent of which are, Lords of all the World Ideologies of Empire in Britain, France and Spain 1995 , Peoples and Empires 2001 , La Ilustraci n y sus enemigos 2002 , Worlds at War, The 2500 year struggle between East and West 2008 , and, as editor, The Idea of Europe from Antiquity to the European Union 2002 all of which have been translated into several European and Asian languages He is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, and The London Review of Books, and has written for The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Il Sole 24 Ore Milan , El Mundo Spain , El Pais, Spain and La Nueva Provincia Argentina.He teaches classes in the history of political thought from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, in the theory of international relations, and seminars on imperialism and nationalism and on the theory of racism and ethnicity since antiquity.


    1. A great introduction to the thinkers (and ideas) of the Enlightenment that manages not to oversimplify or caricature them and to show how others have (and do). So, what is worth saving?:“But our ability even to frame our understanding of the world in terms of something larger than our own small patch of ground, our own culture, family, or religion, clearly does (connect to Enlightenment ideals]. And in that, we are all, inescapably, the heirs of the architects of the Enlightenment ‘science o [...]

    2. I got an early copy through NetGalley and have been reading it over the last week. Pagden is a professor of political science and history at UCLA, and that crossing of disciplines is manifest in the book. But the real emphasis is on political science. There are some good anecdotes, but the bulk is a lively discussion of political theory. The introduction makes a compelling point that the Enlightenment's more vocal critics (the Romantics, Horkheimer and Adorno, Alistair MacIntyre) are only seeing [...]

    3. This book deserves multiple readings. I’m shocked at how much fun it was to read, but there is so much information in such a small space that I’m a bit overwhelmed. Pagden’s central thesis is for the continued value of the enlightenment by showing how critical it was in throwing off our reliance on religious dogma, freeing us to think beyond the accepted boundaries. Tied up in all this is the movement toward a truly secular understanding of human rights, and government. Multi-culturalism [...]

    4. Enlighteningbut harder work than it need have beenLike most people, I have a vague idea of what is meant by Enlightenment values – scepticism, reason, science etc. – and could probably name, if pushed, a few of the intellectuals and philosophers associated with it. I hoped this book might give me a clearer idea of the history and development of the period and of the contribution of some of the main players. And to a degree it did. Pagden concentrates very much on the intellectual development [...]

    5. The book it's not a book on the history or the philosophy of the enlightenment age, but, rather, a chronicle on how they thought about thinking about science and the science of man.He characterizes the Enlightenment by it's "dynamic and cosmopolitan" approach to thinking. The dynamic approach rejected knowledge based only on tradition, authority, revelation, or pretending to know things that weren't really known, and the cosmopolitan approach made the thinkers base there beliefs on logic, empiri [...]

    6. I tried - I really did. But the writing was so horrendous, I couldn't read more than a paragraph without my eyes crossing. Entire pages had to be read several times over to even follow where a sentence led, much less where it finally ended up. I really wanted to get through it, but I couldn't make it more than two chapters.

    7. Review in English (not my mother tongue) and Spanish (below)This book analyzes the intellectual history of the Enlightenment. It is not ordered chronologically, nor does it narrate too many things about the life of the enlightened philosophers. It is divided by themes:PrefaceIntroductionAll coherence gone: the intellectual shocks caused by Protestantism, the Wars of Religion, the discovery of America, the Scientific Revolution, etc.Bringing pity back in: defense of Reason, yes; but also of sympa [...]

    8. This is a very scholarly work addressing one of the key eras of Western civilization, along with the earlier scientific revolution, reformation, and discovery of the New World. The first part of the book is a nice review of the key thinkers who helped break the intellectual strangle-hold of scholastic and religious authority over rational thought. This movement championed reason over dogma and empowered the notions of individual liberty, freedom and equality along with the rise of capitalism. He [...]

    9. I hoped this would be a book about Enlightenment *government*, involving human rights, freedom of speech, fair trials, honest and efficient administration and improving the lot of the the poor. Kaunitz, the birth of the USA, stuff like that. But no. It's a mere philosophy book.

    10. Instead of strictly philosophical, this is a historical account on the rise (and subsequent influence) of the Enlightenment. Interestingly, while the title is indicative of how the author sees his subject -- that Enlightenment is important -- he doesn't pull punches with his criticism of it. That said, Pagden wasn't out to write polemics. As he himself wrote: This book is not intended to be a political tract, nor a moral homily. It is a work of history, an attempt, to borrow the words of the dyi [...]

    11. “No other intellectual movement, no other period in history, has attracted so much disagreement, so much intransigence, so much simple anger.”Pagden avoids the common practice of focusing on the Scottish Enlightenment and French Enlightenment to the derogation of the broader Enlightenment and thinkers who were neither Scottish nor French (nor Kant). The Enlightenment was “most closely linked to France, the German-speaking lands, Britain and her American colonies.” That is, it in many way [...]

    12. This is a detailed recount of Enlightenment thinkers presented in a somewhat furious bombardment of detail, so intense as to make it totally impractical to absorb via audio, unless one is equipped with sufficient time to sit and take notes. Having listened to these two volumes over the course of a month, during my daily commute, I must admit that I have retained only a fraction of what this expansive work offers. However, I must say that I do now harbor a much greater appreciation for this perio [...]

    13. 1. For a book that is absolutely stuffed with ideas, it's strange that I couldn't stop thinking about how it's structured. From the title, I expected one of those Malcolm Gladwell one big idea books (300 pages or less, big idea laid out in intro and conclusion, a bunch of supporting anecdotes in between), but this was actually written in an academic style, with a seemingly endless and not always intuitive chain of ideas that produced a book that really is not at all true to the title. The "and w [...]

    14. Sorry to disagree with most of the other reviews, but I found this book unreadable. I gave it 2 stars instead of the 1 I think it deserves, since the author packed it with an excessive amount of detail. But the end result was a book extremely boring and dry to read. Each page is full of philosophers so it was impossible to keep them separate. Some examples at random:Page 29 mentions Grotius, Spinosa, Malebranche, Bayle, D'Alembert. Page 39 mentions Pomponazzi, Aristotle, Averroes, St. Augustine, [...]

    15. Having never read anything specifically on The Enlightenment itself, I found the book to be both historically informative and a good read. There were times when it ran a bit dry towards the end but I stuck with it to the end. Having a read a bit of theology over the years, and not sufficiently considered secular viewpoints anywhere near enough, I found the description by Pagden of how religion (particular Christianity) was looked upon at the time,was most useful. It helped me to put a few signif [...]

    16. This sounds incredibly dumb, but I wasn't expecting a book about the Enlightenment to be quite so heavy on philosophy. I guess I was expecting it to be more of a history of a time period. I still enjoyed it and for the most part felt like I kept my head above water but I think priming the pump with a "Philosophy for dummies" book would've helped.In terms of my enjoyment of the content this book was all over the place. The enlightenment ideas around cosmopolitanism were wonderful and buttressed m [...]

    17. In Anthony Pagden’s sweeping new study, the Enlightenment constitutes a collective intellectual journey away from God toward a new understanding of man. His account of this journey is bookended by brief examinations of the objections posed by the Enlightenment’s detractors, from the Romantics to modern religious conservatives, but ultimately the title, “Why It Still Matters,” seems more of a publisher’s push for relevance than a driving force of the book. The Enlightenment’s legacy, [...]

    18. This is a panoramic history of ideas of The Enlightenment. Full of character, illustrated through anecdotes and not infrequently with quotes from original writings, one would meet in this book not just the stalwarts of enlightenment but a number of less known figures, books and ideas that may have influenced these thoughts (like Bernard Mandeville's The Fable of The Bees), and those of the critics of the enlightenment, not just the celebrated ones such as Vico and Herder, but also the contempora [...]

    19. I was looking forward to this book, but unfortunately, my hopes were not rewarded.I've read a few really engaging non-fiction history books lately and I hoped this would be of the same ilk, especially since the Enlightenment is a period that does interest me.However, for the most part, this book was dry - really dry. There'd be passages that were interesting and which would pull my attention back, but the rest was very heavy going and felt like a lecture. I would not recommend this book for the [...]

    20. I have read a ton of books on The Enlightenment . This is probably the best. I will just quote from the starred review in Publisher's Weekly: "For those who recognize the names Hegel, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Voltaire, and Diderot but are unfamiliar with their thoughts, Pagden provides a fantastic introduction, explaining the driving philosophies of the period and placing theirproponents in context . . .Pagden's belief that the Enlightenment 'made it possible for us to think . . . beyond the narrow [...]

    21. This book doesn't really live up to its title; it should be called "Human Development as Viewed Through the Enlightenment". That's what you really get when you dive into this incredibly detailed textd many times it's far too concerned with the small minutiae of each philosopher's point of view to make for an enjoyable read. That said, in university this would easily have been a text book I would have devoured for numerous courses. I only wish I could have devoured with with a bit more pleasure.

    22. A fresh and sweeping look at the Enlightenment and what it really meant for the modern world. Pagden defends the Enlightenment against many of it's modern detractors as a cosmopolitan project with classical roots and contemporary relevance. Rich in detail and very compelling. A great book for anyone interested in the development of the Western world and the accomplished philosophers of the period.

    23. Great narrative of the intellectual history of modern West from Kant to Robespierre, from idealism to "Rein of Terror". Chinese Cultural Revolution and French Revolution? The Religion of Reason, too "dry" for Romanticists and Emersonians; Deity of the American Revolutionary Wars, or modern day spiritualism? The "dynamic" Golden Medium is the law of the universe including human existence and societies.

    24. This book is very whiggish. The author does a poor job of distinguishing between his own personal secularism and the Enlightenment. That being said, there is a lot of good material here on how Enlightenment thinkers approached the issues of nationhood and international law. There is a good balance in talking about non-French Enlightenments.

    25. Entertaining and erudite look at the thinkers who, building on the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century, rescued the West from the slough of ignorance and superstition. Intellectual history in the grand tradition.

    26. This is a good survey of enlightenment thinkers. It is well researched and well written. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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