The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents / Edition 1

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In an unusually diverse collection, Margaret Jacob presents the eighteenth-century movement known as the Enlightenment that forever changed the political, religious, and educational landscape of the day. Selections by some of the period’s most important thinkers include pieces by Locke, Rousseau, Mary Wortley Montagu, Denis Diderot, and Moses Mendelssohn. She covers the movement’s lengthy evolution in a comprehensive introduction, which establishes the issues central to understanding the documents and provides important background on the political and social debates of the period. All documents are preceded by headnotes, and the volume includes a chronology, 14 illustrations, a bibliography, and an index.

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Editorial Reviews

A collection of nine documents, written during the Enlightenment, summarizing the political and spiritual movement. A detailed introduction to the period precedes the articles, and describes issues central to understanding the documents, and provides background about the political and social debates of the time. Authors represented include Locke, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau and Kant. Jacob (history, U. of California, Los Angeles) also includes reproductions of period art, as well as a chronology. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312179977
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 10/4/2000
  • Series: Bedford Cultural Editions Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 237
  • Sales rank: 317,429
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.19 (h) x 0.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret C. Jacob is professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has published widely on science, religion, freemasonry, and the origins of the Industrial Revolution. A past Guggenheim and Fulbright fellow, Jacob has received grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her first book, The Newtonians and the English Revolution (1976), won the Gottschalk prize from the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, of which she was president from 1997 to 1998. Her most recent book is Scientific Culture and the Making of the Industrial West (1997).

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Table of Contents





Introduction: The Struggle to Create a New Culture

Political Origins

Scientific and Religious Origins

The Public Sphere

Enlightened Feminism

Reworking Seventeenth-Century Formal Philosophy

A Clandestine Universe

A Protestant Odyssey

Travel Literature


Mid-Century Crisis


The International Republican Conversation, 1775–1800

Slavery, Imperialism, and the French Revolution

The Legacy of the Enlightenment

A Note about the Text


The Documents

1. John Locke, Some Thoughts concerning Education, 1693

2. Treatise of the Three Impostors, 1719

3. Voltaire, Letters concerning the English Nation, 1733

4. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Letters, 1716–1718

5. Denis Diderot, Encyclopedia, 1751

6. Denis Diderot, Supplement to Bougainville’s VOYAGE, 1772

7. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, 1762

8. Immanuel Kant, What Is Enlightenment? 1784

9. Moses Mendelssohn, Jerusalem: Or on Religious Power and Judaism, 1783


An Enlightenment Chronology (1685–1800)

Selected Bibliography


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