The Enlightenment by Anthony Pagden
And Why it Still Matters

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It is hard, then, not to be puzzled by Mr. Pagden's argument. It is historically knowledgeable yet strangely unsophisticated in its up-to-the-minute familiarity with who counts as friend or foe...
-WSJ online

Synopsis

The Enlightenment and Why It Still Matters tells nothing less than the story of how the modern, Western view of the world was born. Cultural and intellectual historian Anthony Pagden explains how, and why, the ideal of a universal, global, and cosmopolitan society became such a central part of the Western imagination in the ferment of the Enlightenment - and how these ideas have done battle with an inward-looking, tradition-oriented view of the world ever
since.

Cosmopolitanism is an ancient creed; but in its modern form it was a creature of the Enlightenment attempt to create a new 'science of man', based upon a vision of humanity made up of autonomous individuals, free from all the constraints imposed by custom, prejudice, and religion. As Pagden shows, this 'new science' was based not simply on 'cold, calculating reason', as its critics claimed, but on the argument that all humans are linked by what in the Enlightenment were called 'sympathetic'
attachments. The conclusion was that despite the many tribes and nations into which humanity was divided there was only one 'human nature', and that the final destiny of the species could only be the creation of one universal, cosmopolitan society.

This new 'human science' provided the philosophical grounding of the modern world. It has been the inspiration behind the League of Nations, the United Nations and the European Union. Without it, international law, global justice, and human rights legislation would be unthinkable. As Anthony Pagden argues passionately and persuasively in this book, it is a legacy well worth preserving - and one that might yet come to inherit the earth.
 

About Anthony Pagden

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ANTHONY PAGDEN is distinguished professor of political science and history at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was educated in Chile, Spain, and France, and at Oxford. He has been the reader in intellectual history at Cambridge, a fellow of King's College, a visiting professor at Harvard, and Harry C. Black Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of many prizewinning books, including Peoples and Empires: A Short History of European Migration, Exploration, and Conquest, from Greece to the Present and European Encounters with the new World: From Renaissance to Romanticism. Pagden contributes regularly to such publications as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The New Republic.






Author Residence: Los Angeles, CA






Author Hometown: Britain
 
Published May 23, 2013 by OUP Oxford. 464 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Enlightenment
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Stuart Kelly on Jul 24 2013

This is a big but not a deep book. Compared to the affability, the clubbable nature of many of the thinkers it describes, it is strident, partisan and always willing to overlook a fact in favour of a thesis.

Read Full Review of The Enlightenment: And Why it... | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Apr 22 2013

...a fantastic introduction; explaining the driving philosophies of the period and placing their proponents in context.

Read Full Review of The Enlightenment: And Why it... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by KENNETH MINOGUE on Jun 07 2013

It is hard, then, not to be puzzled by Mr. Pagden's argument. It is historically knowledgeable yet strangely unsophisticated in its up-to-the-minute familiarity with who counts as friend or foe...

Read Full Review of The Enlightenment: And Why it... | See more reviews from WSJ online

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