On Enlightenment

On Enlightenment

by David Stove
     
 

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The idea of enlightenment entails liberty, equality, rationalism, secularism, and the connection between knowledge and well being. In spite of the setbacks of revolutionary violence, mass murder, and two world wars, the spread of enlightenment values is still the yardstick by which moral, political, and scientific advances are measured. In On Enlightenment,

Overview

The idea of enlightenment entails liberty, equality, rationalism, secularism, and the connection between knowledge and well being. In spite of the setbacks of revolutionary violence, mass murder, and two world wars, the spread of enlightenment values is still the yardstick by which moral, political, and scientific advances are measured. In On Enlightenment, David Stove attacks the roots of enlightenment thought to define its successes, limitations, and areas of likely failures.

Stove champions the use of reason and recognizes the falsity of religious claims as well as the importance of individual liberty. He rejects 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 lead to the social progress envisioned by its advocates? Despite best intentions, says Stove, social reformers who attempt to improve the world inevitably make things worse. He advocates a conservative approach to change, pointing out that social structures are so large and complex that any widespread social reform will have innumerable unforeseen consequences. Writing in the tradition of Edmund Burke with the same passion for clarity and intellectual honesty as George Orwell, David Stove was one of the most articulate and insightful philosophers of his day.

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765801364
Publisher:
Transaction Publishers
Publication date:
11/12/2002
Pages:
222
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, president and publisher of Encounter Books, and an art critic for the London Spectator and National Review.

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