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Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights 1750-1790
The Enlightenment shaped modernity. Western values of representative democracy and basic human rights, gender and racial equality, individual liberty, and freedom of expression and the press, form an interlocking system that derives directly from the Enlightenment's philosophical revolution. This fact is uncontested - yet remarkably few historians or philosophers have atte ...more
Hardcover, 1088 pages
Published 2011 by Oxford University Press
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Scattered in the crypt of the church of Saint-Roch in Paris lie the remains of the Baron d’Holbach and Denis Diderot: one the patron of the Encyclopédie française, the other its indefatigable editor. It was the book which defined a century and would shape progressive thought for generations to come. Despite their importance, the remains of neither man were transferred to the Pantheon during the Revolution. They lacked the celebrity of Voltaire and the popular appeal of Rousseau and, largely beca ...more
This is the third of a trilogy on the philosophy of the Enlightenment. I am interested to read it, though there seems something oddly reactionary about a defense of universal liberty through an assertion of the validity of absolute principles, presumably based on absolute truth. It as though, while Professor Israel has been writing his monumental work of freedom, he has failed to notice that the post-colonial settlement was in many cases a cure worse than the disease, that people he sees as repr ...more
Encyclopedic, and far-reaching in every sense. But insufficiently critical of the idea that revolution implies a 'clean-slate', and frequently unfair to those who are thrust - for the sake of polemic - into the reactionary camp. The enshrinement of Spinoza is at the cost of much injustice to Locke, Voltaire, Hume, and Smith.