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Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights, 1750-1790 Hardcover – September 25, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1066 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1ST edition (September 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019954820X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199548200
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 2.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #917,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"A magisterial study of the immediate and middle-range intellectual underpinnings of the French and subsequent democratic revolutions...this trilogy is by far the most comprehensive and best study of the late 18th-century attitudinal changes that shaped modern thought and action...No serious work equals it in span...or depth...this is an essential book for all who are studying the Enlightenment." -- Library Journal


"Israel has turned up evidence of the Radical Enlightenment's influence in surprising places, and that labor alone should ensure that this book finds a place on every specialist's shelf." -- New York Times Book Review


About the Author


Jonathan Israel is Professor of Modern History at the Institute for Advance Study, Princeton. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and corresponding fellow of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences. His previous books include The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness and Fall, 1477-1806, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750, and Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man 1670-1752.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights, 1750 -- 1790" is the final volume of a massive trilogy of intellectual history discussing the nature and impact of the Enlightenment. The author, Jonathan Israel, finds that the Enlightenment began in approximately 1680 and concluded by about 1800, after which it was followed by a lengthy period of reaction. The two earlier volumes in the trilogy are "Radical Enlightenment" which deals primarily with Spinoza as the key Enlightenment figure,Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 and "Enlightenment Contested" Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man 1670-1752. I have read and reviewed the first book here on Amazon but have not yet read the second. Jonathan Israel is Professor of Modern European History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

Israel describes the Enlightenment as "the single most important topic, internationally in modern historical studies, and one of crucial significance also in our politics, cultural studies and philosophy". (p. 1) His books go far to validate that strong claim. This book is not for the casual reader. It consists of 950 pages of dense and difficult text covering both ideas and history. It demands close, slow reading. I had to pause many times after reading only a small number of pages to reflect upon what I had just read. The writing style is lively, passionate, and informed but not especially graceful.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By JUMBIE on July 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Introduction ( 33 of 1066 pages ) sets the arc of research and analysis of the entire trilogy on the Philosophical Enlightenment and its impact on history and our contemporary politics. Israel's studies have the scope of l'encyclopedie of Diderot ( which itself is analyzed ). I recommend this adventure to those of you would entertain ideas on human rights and freedom and to those of you who wish to delve the Ideas and the Ideals of the French Revolution and its antecedent - the American Revolution. Is there a Divine order - or is Nature alone our guide? Is that distinction at the core of the meaning of the Enlightenment?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard Jackson on November 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Jonathan Israel's Enlightenment trilogy. While a lot of it is over my head (all those names!) the exegesis of "philosophy" in the 18th century is fascinating. Why only four stars? I thought the last quarter of the book was not well planned, the chapters jump around from subject to subject in an unorganized way. But that's my only grouse.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bruce P. Barten on October 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In addition to already being familiar with much of the material in this book and Darnton's The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France, I became a fan of Rousseau's opera Rousseau's "Le Devin Du Village" The Village Soothsayer as inspiring giggles when it was performed. Mozart wrote operas and died just after 1790, the end of the period in which opera tickets were so expensive that royalty could laugh all they wanted to at The Marriage of Figaro because nobody else could afford the tickets. Darnton and Israel give books much of the credit for having ideas that sometimes sparked riots, but Israel makes it clear that Geneva had a small group of 25 families who considered themselves rulers able to condemn, shred, and burn books by Rousseau. In response, Rousseau abjured Geneva citizenship. Voltaire wrote to Geneva that Rousseau had low moral standards because Rousseau had abandoned his five children as foundlings. French orphanages were home to about 20 percent of French children under five, but the 25 families ruling Geneva had better ideas about bring up kiddies before dropping them off at the pool.

The kind of cultural history based on books can be deadly boring for people who start at the beginning and try to remember what they are learning before governments change into something that can be shut down for nonpayment of whatever anybody wants the government to pay for. Monetary hogwash did not become a popular topic until education tried to make some understanding of social ecology relate to how much anybody could spend.
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