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A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy
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A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  234 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Democracy, free thought and expression, religious tolerance, individual liberty, political self-determination of peoples, sexual and racial equality--these values have firmly entered the mainstream in the decades since they were enshrined in the 1948 U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. But if these ideals no longer seem radical today, their origin was very radical indeed--fa ...more
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published January 7th 2010 by Princeton University Press (first published 2009)
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Esteban del Mal
1/27/10: Spinoza sighting! Can't wait to get to this one.


Awww. Look at little, sweet, innocent Esteban, circa early 2010 up there, back before he read this. The abbreviated anticipation is almost palpable.

What a chump.

Shitty books are shitty for different shitty reasons. This one is shitty because it deals foremost with philosophy. Philosophy. Meditate upon the word for a minute. Do you break out in a cold sweat at the thought of a bunch of whit
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'd love to read Israel's enormous books on the subject, but I'll try his short version first. The type is really big, so this book is even shorter than its page length implies.

Israel makes three big arguments:

1) The Enlightenment ought to be understood/studied as two competing Enlightenments - the Radical (Diderot, D'Holbach, et al) vs. the Moderate (Voltaire, Hume, et al) - rather than a set of distinct national phenomena.
2) The Radical Enlightenment is rooted in
Heather Stein
Apr 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Heather by: D. Bell
This book is so polemical i am had trouble even managing to get through it. The basic premise of a radical and moderate Enlightenment seems forced. The end of Diderot's life is much less radical than Israel would have us believe AND i am having problems with any definition of "moderate" Enlightenment figure that lumps Voltaire in with Sir Edmund Burke... Sir Edmund Burke the famed conservative whose Reflections on the Revolution in France.

Avoid reading. It will just get under your skin. AntoinFrance
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book in many ways amounts to an abstract or summary of his brilliant (and quite lengthy) trilogy on the Enlightenment (Radical Enlightenment, Enlightenment Contested, and Democratic Enlightenment), all of which I've read and enjoyed over the past few years as I've studied the Enlightenment.

As with all of his books they are informative and quite readable if you're into 2-inch-thick non-fiction titles covering a fairly obscure but incredibly important process in Western civilizati
Billy McCoy
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book.
In Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy, Jonathan Israel argues that the Enlightenment must be viewed as a competition between two separate strains of philosophical thought. The first strain, moderate Enlightenment, is that most commonly recognized, advocating for Enlightened despotism, a deistic worldview, a small group of enlightened individuals, and incremental reform. The radical Enlightenment, on the other hand, aimed for democratic ...more
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Read for an exam.
This fucked me up, changed my entire brain (I literally felt it move and re-adjust in my skull ask my friend she was there) and I guess my reply to the question: who’s your role model? Is now: DIDEROT MAN!!

How did I end up like this, and also WHY ARE THE SEQUELS TO THIS BOOK SO EXPENSIVE.
Because yea, Prof.Israel wrote 2 more books, this is a trilogy and I want it even if it’s not required for any exams that I break my brain on this intense philosophical rides
Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book summarises some of Jonathan Israel's recent work on the enlightenment - there are two 1000 page volumes (both under £25 - what a bargain OUP!) and I think another one is on the way. This short volume necessarily skips a lot of detail and mainly focuses on the differences between the moderate and radical enlightenments in the later, immediately pre-French revolution period of about 1750-1790. Israel argues that new 'radical enlightenment' ideas combined with longstanding social and poli ...more
Devin Creed
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Israel splits the Enlightenment into two camps, Radical and Moderate. The Radicals, led by Diderot and D'Holbach, employed the monistic thought of Spinoza to lay the foundations for secular modernity. Meh.
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somewhat instructive (and I am particularly grateful for the linkages to the wider world beyond the 'West'), but too verbose in some parts to my taste. Recommended as a general introduction to the field of Enlightenment philosophical historiography, but not much else.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm now convinced of the book's thesis: the radical enlightenment was importantly distinct from the moderate enlightenment.

But boy this was a slog.
Measuring close to 3.000 pages, Jonathan Israel's trilogy on the Enlightenment (Radical Enlightenment (2001), Enlightenment Contested (2006), and Democratic Enlightenment (2011)) has been a great source on related topics - but I so far have not had the time, or indeed the courage, to read them cover to cover. I figured this much more manageable book would be a good way to familiarize myself with the major themes in the trilogy, and I think that, seen in that light, the book has served its purpose.

Throughout the book, it's qui
(Radical ...more
Charlie Huenemann
Apr 27, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a nice, short overview of Israel's larger volumes. Israel's work is thoroughly researched and the claims he makes are both daring (at least among academic historians) and interesting. Reading this volume is a great way of getting some sense of major and minor players, the important philosophical differences among them, and the relation of ideas to the revolutions in America and France. In the end, I think his principal distinction, between the Radical and Moderate movements of Enlightenm ...more
Stuart Macalpine
Apr 30, 2014 rated it liked it
And interesting account of the philosophical ideas leading up to the French Revolution. Spinoza emerges as a founding father of the ideas of the radical Enlightenment. The interesting thing is the extent to which our modern values are a product of this time. Specifically the kind of values we often hear talked about including democracy, equality, and freedom of conscience and speech. To a surprising extent these are only located within the radical Enlightenment and are not a mainstream part of p ...more
Peter A.  van Tilburg
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Book gives a good overview about the Enlightment and more specific 2 parties the more moderate ones who wanted to fit the ideas in the existing order and the revolutionary party who realises that fitting in contradicts with the basic ideas of the Enlightment.
Interesting to see that some ideas such as ' the reason' are not defined and more or less accepted as general truths.
Steven  Godby
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Solid book. However, the writing style is demanding.
Jerry Hilts
Jan 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
A bit rambling at times, but fascinating none the less.
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
An interesting look at the philosophy which gave rise to modern democracies. Well worth reading.
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Needs more detail. Fortunately, the author has written three massive tomes on the same topic.
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy, history
I hated the audio. A long recitation of names and titles. British and French accent didn't help. Very hard to follow. Maybe the text version would work.
Marcio Atz
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Understanding the roots of the western world enlightenment is fundamental to the understanding of the roots to modern thought. I found that this book does contribute immensely to this purpose.
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Jonathan Irvine Israel is a British writer on Dutch history, the Age of Enlightenment and European Jews. Israel was appointed as Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, in January 2001. He was previously Professor of Dutch History and Institutions at the University of London.

In recent years, Israel has f
“In a passage penned for the Abbé Raynal’s Histoire philosophique des deux Indes, lines written shortly after the Revolution’s onset in 1776, Diderot, confident that they would succeed, urges the insurgents to remember in building their new world not to allow inequality of wealth to become too great. He admonished them to “fear a too unequal division of wealth resulting in a small number of opulent citizens and a multitude of citizens living in misery, from which there arises the arrogance of the one and the abasement of the other.”13” 3 likes
“Without classifying radical thought as a Spinozistic tendency, combining one-substance doctrine or philosophical monism with democracy and a purely secular moral philosophy based on equality, the basic mechanics of eighteenth-century controversy, thought, and polemics cannot be grasped.” 2 likes
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