The Enlightenment: A Genealogy

Paperback | December 15, 2010

byDan Edelstein

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What was the Enlightenment? Though many scholars have attempted to solve this riddle, none has made as much use of contemporary answers as Dan Edelstein does here. In seeking to recover where, when, and how the concept of “the Enlightenment” first emerged, Edelstein departs from genealogies that trace it back to political and philosophical developments in England and the Dutch Republic. According to Edelstein, by the 1720s scholars and authors in France were already employing a constellation of terms—such as l’esprit philosophique—to describe what we would today call the Enlightenment. But Edelstein argues that it was within the French Academies, and in the context of the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns, that the key definition, concepts, and historical narratives of the Enlightenment were crafted.

A necessary corrective to many of our contemporary ideas about the Enlightenment, Edelstein’s book turns conventional thinking about the period on its head. Concise, clear, and contrarian, The Enlightenment will be welcomed by all teachers and students of the period.

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What was the Enlightenment? Though many scholars have attempted to solve this riddle, none has made as much use of contemporary answers as Dan Edelstein does here. In seeking to recover where, when, and how the concept of “the Enlightenment” first emerged, Edelstein departs from genealogies that trace it back to political and philosoph...

Dan Edelstein is associate professor of French at Stanford University and author of The Terror of the Natural Right: Republicanism, the Cult of Nature, and the French Revolution.

other books by Dan Edelstein

Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.9 inPublished:December 15, 2010Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226184498

ISBN - 13:9780226184494

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
 Introduction
1 Interpreting the Enlightenment: On Methods
2 A Map of the Enlightenment: Whither France?
3 The Spirit of the Moderns: From the New Science to the Enlightenment
4 Society, the Subject of the Modern Story
5 Quarrel in the Academy: The Ancients Strike Back
6 Humanism and Enlightenment: The Classical Style of the Philosophes
7 The Philosophical Spirit of the Laws: Politics and Antiquity
8 An Ancient God: Pagans and Philosophers
Post Tenebras Lux: Begriffsgeschichte or Régime d’Historicité?
10 Ancients and the Orient: Translatio Imperii
11 Enlightened Institutions (I): The Royal Academies versus the Republic of Letters
12 Enlightened Institutions (II): Universities, Censorship, and Public Instruction
13 Worldliness, Politeness, and the Importance of Not Being Too Radical
14 From Enlightenment to Revolution: A Shared History?
15 France and the European Enlightenment
16 Conclusion: Modern Myths

Abbreviations
Notes
Selected Bibliography for the Enlightenment
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Dan Edelstein, one of the very best contemporary scholars of eighteenth-century French culture, has produced another tour-de-force of a book with this brilliant, provocative study of how, when, and where the Enlightenment was first defined.”—David A. Bell, Princeton University