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The Enlightenment and the Intellectual Foundations of Modern Culture Paperback – November 1, 2005

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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"This immensely readable book will cause readers to rethink the Enlightenment and to see its positive aspects. It will also add crucial historical perspective to current discussions of modernity."

From the Back Cover

"This immensely readable book will cause readers to rethink the Enlightenment and to see its positive aspects. It will also add crucial historical perspective to current discussions of modernity."-Donald Verene, Emory University --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300113463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300113464
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,118,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By W. Chen on January 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
A panoramic survey of the philosophical landscape of the Enlightenment period (1648 - 1789), covering the sense of selfhood, art and aesthetics, morality, social theory, science of history, religion and faith during that period. The advent of modern science, particularly the mechanism of Newtonian theory, knocked down many of the medieval concepts about the cosmos, Providence, creation and human's place in the world, and ushered in rationalism as the mainstream thinking of the Enlightenment period. This does not mean key thinkers in this period were of one or similar stripe. They held different, and sometimes diametrical, views. Louis Dupre summarizes and comments on the views of key philosophical figures in this period, including Locke, Hume, Diderot, Rousseau, Leibniz, Lessing, Spinoza, Kant, and many others. The text is somewhat dense, especially for the uninitiated, but it is definitely accessible. Overall, it is a very good survey of the philosophical views of the period.
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Format: Paperback
Amazing-interesting and frustrating-almost simultaneously. A VERY old-fashioned exposition using a "history of ideas" to elucidate the rise of the modern world. What about the history itself? You won't find it here. Still valuable as a way of arguing for ideas as a driving force and how they can lead us away-but from what? This whole modern critique of "the Enlightenment", whatever that term signifies in intellectual historians minds leaves me cold. As Dupre states, even Kant wasn't sure what the Aufklarung was. Perhaps it's now mixed up with too many strands of modern and pre-modern social, political, and economic history to really make sense of it. It reminds me of our current dilemma-democracy, or liberal constitutionalism. If only our leaders, educators, and media commentators could decide what they want or mean it would be helpful. Remember the disagreements between Voltaire and Rousseau-how could they be lumped together as Enlightened philosophes or philosophers. And what modern country respects tolerance and freedom, while providing a sound material standard of living for ALL of its' citizens? Wasn't that the aim of enlightened philosophers but aren't those goals mutually incompatible. Wasn't that the exact problem of our Founding Fathers, and still plagues us today? Now, what exactly does that have to do with modern or pre-modern philosophy and the history of ideas? I'm not sure I know but it can't be explained by a resort to purely intellectual history, and unfortunately most authors who try to tackle this subject don't admit it. That goes doubly for Dupre. To adequately weave all the strands of history together, no one did it better than the Durant's in their "Civilisation", still a must read for students of history. While they provide no answers to the Enlightenment controversy, they do provide the broad basis to help readers understand the possibilities of a critique of modernity-surely that's a great achievement.
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