The Riddle Of The Modern World / Edition 1

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What conditions the chances of liberty, wealth, and equality at the start of the third Christian millennium? Why did human civilizations develop so slowly for thousands of years, and then transform themselves during the last three hundred? This study of four great thinkers who lived between 1689 and 1995--Montesquieu, Adam Smith, De Tocqueville, and Ernest Gellner--weaves their lives and works together and through their own words shows how they approached the question of the nature of humanity, our past and our future.

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Editorial Reviews

James Q. Wilson
No one who wishes to understand the great modern transformation of the industrialized world...can do so without studying the remarkable scholarship of Alan Macfarlane.
The Wall Street Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312232047
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 6/20/2000
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 342
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Macfarlane is Professor of Anthropological Science at the University of Cambridge.

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Table of Contents

The Riddle of the Modern World
• Baron de Montesquieu's Life and Vision
• Liberty and Despotism
• The Defense of Liberty
• Adam Smith's Life and Vision
• Growth and Stasis
• Of Wealth and Liberty
• From Predation to Production
• Alexis de Toqueville's Life and Vision
• "America" as a Thought Experiment
• How the Modern World Emerged
• Liberty, Wealth and Equality
An Answer to the Riddle?
• Ernest Gellner and the Conditions of the Exit
• The Riddle Resolved?

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