The Crisis of Reason: European Thought, 1848-1914

The Crisis of Reason: European Thought, 1848-1914

by J. W. Burrow
Pub. Date:
Yale University Press

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The Crisis of Reason: European Thought, 1848-1914

This elegantly written book explores the history of ideas in Europe from the revolutions of 1848 to the beginning of the First World War. Broader than a straight survey, deeper and richer than a textbook, this work seeks to place the reader in the position of an informed eavesdropper on the intellectual conversations of the past.

J. W. Burrow first outlines the intellectual context of the mid-nineteenth century, using ideas taken from physics, social evolution, and social Darwinism, and anxieties about modernity and personal identity, to explore the impact of science and social thought on European intellectual life. The discussion encompasses powerful and fashionable concepts in evolution, art, myth, the occult, and the unconscious mind; the rise of the great cities of Berlin, Paris, and London; and the work of literary writers, philosophers, and composers. Most of the great intellectual figures of the age—and many of the lesser known—populate the book, among them Mill, Bakunin, Nietzsche, Bergson, Renan, Pater, Proust, Clough, Flaubert, Wagner, and Wilde. The author wears his erudition lightly, and this distinguished book will be both entertaining and accessible to scholars, students, and general readers alike.

About the Author:
J. W. Burrow is professor of European thought at Oxford University and fellow of Balliol College. Among his previous books are Evolution and Society, A Liberal Descent, and Gibbon.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300083903
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 08/28/2000
Series: Yale Intellectual History of the West Se
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.45(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.12(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsix
Prologue: 1848-49: The Disillusionment of the Intellectuals1
1The Stuff of the World and the Promises of Science31
1.1The New Generation31
1.2The Conservation of Matter and Energy; Materialist Reductionism34
1.3The Enigma of Consciousness and the Impact of Evolution42
1.4The Claims of Science: Science as Vocation52
1.5The Reaction against Materialism: Phenomenalism, Pragmatism and Pan-psychism56
2Social Evolution and the Sciences of Culture68
2.1A Classified World68
2.2Social Evolution as the Division of Labour72
2.3Sciences of Religion and Culture: France, Britain, Germany77
2.4Social Darwinism, Eugenics and Race92
3Community and Modernity109
3.1The Market and Modernity109
3.2Community: The Mark, the Mir and the Guild113
3.3The Ethical State124
3.4Nation and State in Germany132
3.5Nationalism and the Critique of Modernity: Myth and Charisma136
4The Elusive Self147
4.1The Burden of Freedom147
4.3The Flux of Experience160
4.4The Unconscious164
5Constructing the Self170
5.1Work of Art and Microcosm170
5.2'Decadence' and 'Life'181
5.3The Calling and the Deed190
6Immanence, Revelation and Transcendence197
6.2Myth and Revelation208
6.3The Occult219
Epilogue: Avant-garde234
Select Bibliography254

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