Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Three Deaths and Enlightenment Thought: Hume, Johnson, Marat Hardcover – August 1, 2001
See the Best Books of 2017
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
About the Author
Stephen Miller has published widely on eighteenth-century intellectual history. His articles on Adam Smith, David Hume, Edmund Burke, Joseph Addison, Samuel Johnson, and Edward Gibbon have appeared in a number of journals, including Sewanee Review, Partisan Review, and the Times Literary Supplement. He has also written two books and many articles on a variety of subjects -from American intellectual history to modern French thought. An independent scholar who is a Contributing Editor to the Wilson Quarterly, he has taught at Rutgers University and Beaver College. He has also been a Program Director for the National Endowment for the Humanities and a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The book also looks at the response of James Boswell, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, and Edward Gibbon to the deathbed projects of Hume and Johnson, and it discusses how their political thought differs from Johnson's and Hume's. It also considers the complex relations between reformist and transformist thought in Britain during the last three decades of the century, showing how the views of the two reformist groups and of such transformist writers as Richard Price, Joseph Priestley, and Thomas Paine were affected by a number of political events, from the Wilkes crisis to the French Revolution. Though the book focuses on AngloScottish Enlightenment thought, it often refers to the French Enlightenment, and the chapter on Marat looks at the connection between transformist thought in Britain and France.
The author argues that Enlightenment thought was more varied and?in its reformist currents?less hostile to tradition than many observers have allowed. Enlightenment thought was less a cluster of ideas than a debate about a number of questions, especially the following: how to contain religious and secular fanaticism (or what was called enthusiasm); what are the effects of luxury; and what is the nature of the passions. There was, as J. G. A. Pocock says, "a family of Enlightenments," and "there is room for the recognition of family quarrels..."
Why look at deathbed scenes to chart the currents of Enlightenment thought? Because an interest in deathbed scenes was widespread in eighteenth?century Britain and France. The final days of Hume stirred up a controversy that lasted for at least a decade and the final days of Johnson also attracted a great deal of attention, but Marat's death had the greatest impact of the three. His assassination gave impetus to the Jacobins' attempt to eliminate the influence of the church and greatly expand the influence of the state. Marat's project to transform France failed, but so did the projects of Hume and Johnson. Hume argued that religious belief was based on the foolish fear of death, yet religion remained a strong force in Britain. Johnson hoped for a return to God-fearing religion, yet the educated classes continued to prefer a more benign brand of Christianity in which God's benevolence was stressed far more than his judgment.