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The Enlightenment and the Intellectual Foundations of Modern Culture
     

The Enlightenment and the Intellectual Foundations of Modern Culture

by Louis Dupre
 

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The prestige of the Enlightenment has declined in recent years. Many consider its thinking abstract, its art and poetry uninspiring, and the assertion that it introduced a new age of freedom and progress after centuries of darkness and superstition presumptuous. In this book, an eminent scholar of modern culture shows that the Enlightenment was a more complex

Overview

The prestige of the Enlightenment has declined in recent years. Many consider its thinking abstract, its art and poetry uninspiring, and the assertion that it introduced a new age of freedom and progress after centuries of darkness and superstition presumptuous. In this book, an eminent scholar of modern culture shows that the Enlightenment was a more complex phenomenon than most of its detractors and advocates assume. It includes rationalist as well as antirationalist tendencies, a critique of traditional morality and religion as well as an attempt to establish them on new foundations, even the beginning of a moral renewal and a spiritual revival.

The Enlightenment’s critique of tradition was a necessary consequence of the fundamental modern principle that we humans are solely responsible for the course of history. Hence we can accept no belief, no authority, no institutions that are not in some way justified. This foundation, for better or for worse, determined the course of the following centuries. Despite contemporary reactions against it, the Enlightenment continues to shape our own time and still distinguishes Western culture from any other.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The Enlightenment bequeathed to the West ideas and ideals the authority of reason, the autonomy of the rational subject, the primacy of human rights still cherished as the foundation of democratic societies. These two books resurrect the Enlightenment and its ideals, criticizing their shortcomings as well as praising their value. The magisterial overview by Dupr (philosophy of religion, Yale Univ.; Light from Light: An Anthology of Christian Mysticism) ranges over the Enlightenment's key thinkers, from Kant, Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau to Vico, Herder, Hamann, and Gibbon. He examines areas of thinking from art and science to politics and religion as he demonstrates just how deep-seated ideas such as the "nonauthoritarian view of morality" are in our culture. Dupr provides a first-rate history of ideas and an enormously helpful introduction to the Enlightenment. Recommended for all libraries. Bronner's (Critical Theory and Society: A Reader; Imagining the Possible) approach is narrower, less an overview and more a rebuttal of Mark Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment, which claimed that the Enlightenment gave rise to totalitarianism and its excesses in the West. Bronner contends that Enlightenment ideas such as the focus on individual rights, democracy, social reform, and justice have kept the impulse toward a fair and just democracy alive. Without such rational discourses about all areas of politics and society, he argues, democracy would not now be the vital political institution it is. While Bronner's book lacks the elegance and majesty of Dupr 's, it is nevertheless an important call to recover our Enlightenment roots in an age characterized by a loss of reason and rational discourse. Recommended for large libraries. Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300133684
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
10/01/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
4 MB

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