On Enlightenment

Overview

The idea of enlightenment entails liberty, equality, rationalism, secularism, and the connection between knowledge and human well being. In spite of the setbacks of revolutionary violence, political mass murder, and two world wars, the spread of enlightenment values has become the yardstick by which moral, political, and even scientific advances are measured. Indeed, most critiques of the enlightenment ideal point to failure in implementation rather than principle. By contrast, David Stove, in On Enlightenment, ...
See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (13) from $25.96   
  • New (4) from $59.49   
  • Used (9) from $25.65   
Sending request ...

Overview

The idea of enlightenment entails liberty, equality, rationalism, secularism, and the connection between knowledge and human well being. In spite of the setbacks of revolutionary violence, political mass murder, and two world wars, the spread of enlightenment values has become the yardstick by which moral, political, and even scientific advances are measured. Indeed, most critiques of the enlightenment ideal point to failure in implementation rather than principle. By contrast, David Stove, in On Enlightenment, attacks the intellectual roots of enlightenment thought, to define the limitations of its successes and the areas of its likely failures.

Stove is not insensitive to the many valuable aspects of enlightenment thought. He champions the use of reason and rationality, and recognizes the falsity of religious claims as well as the importance of individual liberty. What he rejects is the enlightenment's uncritical optimism regarding social progress and its willingness to embrace revolutionary change. What evidence is there that the elimination of superstition will lead to happiness? Or that it is possible to accept Darwinism without Social Darwinism? Or that the enlightenment's liberal, rationalistic outlook will ever lead to the kind of social progress envisioned by its advocates.

Despite their best intentions, social reformers who attempt to improve the world as a whole inevitably make things worse. He advocates a conservative "go slow" approach to change, pointing out that today's social structures are so large and complex that any widespread social reform will have innumerable unforeseen consequences. For example, the welfare state may diminish individual initiative, the use of pesticides may increase the food supply while polluting the water supply, the popularizing of university education may lead to a decline in academic standards. Since government has a virtual monopoly on large-scale change, it follows, in Stove's view, that its powers must be limited in order to prevent large-scale damage. Instead, he argues that reforms, when they are to be made at all, must be realistic, local, necessary and never coercive.

Writing in the conservative tradition of Edmund Burke with the same passion for clarity and intellectual honesty as George Orwell, David Stove was one of the most precise, articulate, and insightful philosophers of his day.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Never just an academic, Stove was also a prominent, often crotchety, public intellectual of a conservative and, all too often, reactionary bent, many of whose views were extremist on any account, and his targets were many. ... For Stove the important question about a belief is not whether it is extreme or mainstream, but whether it is true, or probable, or has sound evidentiary and/or rational credentials. In this he was surely right." —D. D. Todd, Philosophy in Review
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765801364
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/12/2002
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

David Stove (1927-1994) taught philosophy at the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney. He is the author of numerous books, including The Rationality of Induction and Against the Idols of the Age. Andrew Irvine is professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of Socrates on Trial and a textbook, titled Argument.

Roger Kimball is co-editor and publisher of The New Criterion and president and publisher of Encounter Books. He is also an art critic for the London Spectator and National Review. He is author of numerous titles including The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art and Art's Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: David Stove on Enlightenment
Acknowledgements
Pt. I So You Think You're an Egalitarian?
1 Did Babeuf Deserve the Guillotine? 3
2 A Promise Kept by Accident 27
3 The Bateson Fact, or One in a Million 47
Pt. II Why the World is the Way It Is
4 The Malthus Check 57
5 Population, Privilege, and Malthus' Retreat 75
6 The Diabolical Place: A Secret of the Enlightenment 93
7 Glimpses of Pioneer Life 111
8 Altruism and Darwinism 119
9 Paralytic Epistemology, or the Soundless Scream 141
Pt. III Reclaiming the Jungle
10 The Columbus Argument 149
11 Bombs Away 155
12 Jobs for the Girls 159
13 Righting Wrongs 165
14 Why You should be a Conservative 171
Index 179
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)