The Dream of Enlightenment

The Author Of The Celebrated The Dream Of Reason Vividly Explains The Rise Of Modern Thought From Descartes To Rousseau Western Philosophy Is Now Two And A Half Millennia Old, But Much Of It Came In Just Two Staccato Bursts, Each Lasting Only About 150 Years In His Landmark Survey Of Western Philosophy From The Greeks To The Renaissance, The Dream Of Reason, Anthony Gottlieb Documented The First Of These, Which Came In The Athens Of Socrates, Plato, And Aristotle Now, In The Dream Of Enlightenment, Gottlieb Expertly Navigates The Second Great Explosion Of Thought, Taking Us To Northern Europe In The Wake Of Its Wars Of Religion And The Rise Of Galilean Science In A Relatively Short Period From The Early 1640s To The Eve Of The French Revolution Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, And Hume All Made Their MarkThe Dream Of Enlightenment Tells Their Story And That Of The Birth Of Modern Philosophy.As Gottlieb Explains, All These Men Were Amateurs None Had Much To Do With Any University They Tried To Fathom The Implications Of The New Science And Of Religious Upheaval, Which Led Them To Question Traditional Teachings And Attitudes What Does The Advance Of Science Entail For Our Understanding Of Ourselves And For Our Ideas Of God How Should A Government Deal With Religious Diversity And What Is Government Actually For Such Questions Remain Our Questions.Yet It Is Because We Still Want To Hear Them That We Can Easily Get These Philosophers Wrong It Is Tempting To Think They Speak Our Language And Live In Our World But To Understand Them Properly, We Must Step Back Into Their Shoes Gottlieb Puts Readers In The Minds Of These Frequently Misinterpreted Figures, Elucidating The History Of Their Times While Engagingly Explaining Their Arguments And Assessing Their Legacy The Dream Of Enlightenment Creates A Sweeping Account Of What They Amounted To, And Why We Are Still In Their Debt.The Dream of Enlightenment

Anthony Gottlieb is a British writer, former Executive Editor of The Economist, historian of ideas, and the author of The Dream of Reason He was educated at Cambridge University and has held visiting fellowships at All Souls College, Oxford, and Harvard University He has taught at the CUNY Graduate Center and the New School in New York, and been a visiting scholar at New York University and fell

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  • The Dream of Enlightenment
  • Anthony Gottlieb
  • 11 January 2019

10 thoughts on “The Dream of Enlightenment

  1. says:

    Ours may not be the best of all possible worlds but these pioneers helped to make it an intellectually adventurous and, as d Alembert suggested, a less ignorant one.Dream was a most welcome birthday present for me personally its publication is also timely given a world which sorely needs to examine its present trajectory It is a survey by a retired journalist, a layman than apt to do the heavy lifting about the advocates of a mechanized world, the stirring time in our early Modern period when the ghosts under our bed and the threat of Old Scratch could be outdistanced The noble products of this were the technology and the trappings of tolerance unfortunately, it is an ongoing project Voltaire is included as foil to many Leibniz, Hume and Rousseau, but Voltaire captures something human and timeless, much as his Candide, when pondering the fortunes of the Ne...

  2. says:

    What has the Enlightenment ever done for us This is an important question and the title of the last chapter of this book My biased answer would include human rights, democratic government, personal freedom, and separation of church and state I think it is no great exaggeration to say that the Enlightenment marks the beginning of a sea change in thought that rejected tyranny, acknowledged the rights of common people, and helped create the intellectual environment that made our modern world possible In this relatively short book 244 pages not counting notes , Gottlieb summarizes key points of the Enlightenment s greatest thinkers Rene Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, Pierre Bayle, Gottfried Leibniz, and David Hume, with due mention to others who supported or opposed them It shows how these philosophical pioneers began to question convention, challenge authority, and propose alternatives Some of their ideas may seem strange, backward, or even outrageous to us now, but they were constrained by the ...

  3. says:

    One thing I appreciate about this book is Gottlieb attempted to correct what he saw as common misunderstandings concerning certain philosophers ideas, thus the section on Descartes, Hobbs and Spinoza were really interesting and contained new material that I had not heard in other histories of philosophy The author s disdain for John Locke seemed very evident, yet, it was still worthwhile to hear criticism of a philosopher of which I ve read and of whom I am fond To me the most disappointing part of the book was the section on Hume, this is where Gottlieb s confirmation bias is on full display After the continual criticism for Locke, one is struck how there is not even a hint of criticism of anything Hume had to say, though plenty of his ideas, such as Hume s basing morality in our feelings, cry out for critique It s not hard to gather that Gottlieb is an atheist and Hume is one of his heroes Every argument of Hume against religion is set forth as an absolute knock out and irrefutable argument that once and for all showed the irr...

  4. says:

    I ve been reading this book for a few months now for my philosophy Meetup group We ve been meeting monthly, and each month we discussed just one chapter as each chapter covers a different philosopher from the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th 18th centuries It was a fascinating historical voyage Anthony Gottlieb does justice explaining what each eminent philosopher stood for, what their prevailing works argued, and what their li...

  5. says:

    Nice overview If you are already somewhat familiar with these philosophers it is still a useful refresher Gottlieb offers the most payoff by trying to straighten out many misconceptions about what they wrote and said A prep for tackling the new intellectual biography of Hume.

  6. says:

    A wonderful series of portraits, and introductions to the work and thought of, the great Enlightenment philosophers Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, and the French philosophes taken as a kind of crew though of course, Rousseau doesn t fit in with the rest of the gang, nor does he want to The author s biases must be similar to my own, because I was as much taken with the chapters on Spinoza and Hume as I have been prev...

  7. says:

    Overall this is a nice overview of early modern European philosophy, with a relatively digestible mix of biography, history, and philosophy although certainly not enough philosophy to substitute for actually reading the philosophers discussed I have some criticisms on those in a bit , but this is a helpful thing to read if you ve already read some of the figures featured I d stress that this is not a book to read in lieu of reading the primary sources you have to have some basic familiarity with them to get much out of this book Neither is this a book for specialists, but I doubt specialists need my Goodreads review to tell them that.I read this to add to my background and framing for teaching a class in early modern European philosophy for instance, Gottlieb s framing of Leibniz as a traditionalist reacting to Spinoza s heterodoxy helped my students wrap their minds around these difficult figures.I have two main criticisms First, Gottlieb s presentation of philosophy is quite Eurocentric Focusing on Europe in the book isn t a problem, since he is after all focusing explicitly on European philosophers That s not my complaint My complaint is pretending that E...

  8. says:

    The Enlightenment Era was supposedly the time marking the exit out of the Middle Ages and the transition into what would become the modern epoch I picked up this book with the intent on learning of the ideas which made thinkers such as Baruch Spinoza, John Locke and David Hume well known Some of the ideas introduced were incredibly abstract and difficult to grasp, but that had to do with the thoughts attributed to the particular philosopher than the writing itself I felt it could have been presented in a easier to digest manner as it felt a little drawn out at times and added a layer of abstraction that made the cont...

  9. says:

    Learned we may be with another s man learning we can only be wise with wisdom of our own Michel de MontaigneI think I m able to understand what Montaigne trying to tell me here I ve read The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant, Sophie s World by Jostein Gaarder, and many other philosophy introduction books in order for me to get to know the context of Western thought One thing for sure is that other s people interpretation of thought does not really help me to understand about the ideas of the philosophers As Anthony interpret John Locke idea in this book Many of them come, he said, from observing the activities of our own minds as they consider or react to the ideas they receive from outside that is, from introspection, which he calls reflection The simple ideas that are generated by sensation or reflection are then compounded and manipulated by the mind to compose complex ideas. To elaborate on John Locke s ideas and his recipe for the Idea of God havinggot the Ideas of Existence and Duration of Knowledge and Power of Pleasure and Happi...

  10. says:

    This is a helpful book, but not what I normally read for fun All of the names that Gottlieb focuses on during this history were previously familiar to me, and I had hoped that reading listening to this book would give me a greater overall understanding of the philosophers from this critical period in western thinking In the end, I think it may have been helpful for me to read a physical copy than listen to the audio book.I really enjoyed Gottlieb s reading voice very British and what I imagine sitting in an Oxford philosophy lecture would feel like However, I think it would have been helpful if he had explicitly distinguished his words from quotations In a physical book, this is done with punctuation or italics, but in an audio book I think he should have introduced them a bit according to Spinoza, Hobbes wrote, etc I feel like trail markers of this sort are necessary when you re trying to listen in addition to doing something else how many people don t multi task while listening to an audio book.I feel like I took away some important information about complicated authors like Spinoza and...

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