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One of our most renowned and brilliant historians takes a fresh look at the revolutionary intellectual movement that laid the foundation for the modern world. Liberty and equality. Human rights. Freedom of thought and expression. Belief in reason and progress. The value of scientific inquiry. These are just some of the ideas that were conceived and developed during the Enlightenment, and which changed forever the intellectual landscape of the Western world. Spanning hundreds of years of history, Anthony Pagden traces the origins of this seminal movement, showing how Enlightenment concepts directly influenced modern culture, making possible a secular, tolerant, and, above all, cosmopolitan world. Everyone can agree on its impact. But in the end, just what was Enlightenment? A cohesive philosophical project? A discrete time period in the life of the mind when the superstitions of the past were overthrown and reason and equality came to the fore? Or an open-ended intellectual process, a way of looking at the world and the human condition, that continued long after the eighteenth century ended? To address these questions, Pagden introduces us to some of the unforgettable characters who defined the Enlightenment, including David Hume, the Scottish skeptic who advanced the idea of a universal "science of man"; François-Marie Arouet, better known to the world as Voltaire, the acerbic novelist and social critic who challenged the authority of the Catholic Church; and Immanuel Kant, the reclusive German philosopher for whom the triumph of a cosmopolitan world represented the final stage in mankind's evolution. Comprehensive in his analysis of this heterogeneous group of scholars and their lasting impact on the world, Pagden argues that Enlightenment ideas go beyond the "empire of reason" to involve the full recognition of the emotional ties that bind all human beings together. The "human science" developed by these eminent thinkers led to a universalizing vision of humanity, a bid to dissolve the barriers past generations had attempted to erect between the different cultures of the world. A clear and compelling explanation of the philosophical underpinnings of the modern world, The Enlightenment is a scintillating portrait of a period, a critical moment in history, and a revolution in thought that continues to this day.Advance praise for The Enlightenment "The Enlightenment really does still matter, and with a combination of gripping storytelling about colorful characters and lucid explanation of profound ideas, Anthony Pagden shows why."--Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature and The Blank Slate "Reading Anthony Pagden's The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters is an enlightenment in itself. The larger-than-life thinkers and talkers of eighteenth-century Europe have been blamed for everything from taking the magic out of life to making Auschwitz possible, but here, in sparkling style, Pagden shows us not only how their ideas made mankind modern but also what our world might have been like without them. Everyone interested in where the West came from should read this book."--Ian Morris, author of Why the West Rules--For Now "Anthony Pagden defends the Enlightenment as a cosmopolitan project with classical roots and contemporary relevance. Like Kant, he argues that we live in an age of enlightenment, ongoing but incomplete, but that someday we will experience a fully enlightened age. His lucid and learned book might help to realize that hope."--David Armitage, author of Foundations of Modern International Thought
Anthony Pagden begins his history with the ancient Greeks, who saw themselves as 'extreme voyagers'. They were explorers, they lived in many different places and they were witnesses to one of the most decisive turning points in human history: the moment when the nomadic life gave way to one which was agricultural, city-dwelling and settled. He then moves on to consider the Romans, who transformed migration into a form of domination and sought to impose 'civility' - that is, the lifestyle and laws of the city - upon all whom they conquered. The book culminates in an account of the great European overseas migrations, and the consequences of the initial encounters between 'civilised' Europeans and 'barbarian' aborigines, the dramatic effects of which are still felt acutely today. Drawing upon literary, anthropological and historical sources from throughout Europe, PEOPLES AND EMPIRES tells the stories of the great movement of peoples in European history.
Spanning two and a half millennia, Anthony Pagden's mesmerizing Worlds at War delves deep into the roots of the "clash of civilizations" between East and West that has always been a battle over ideas, and whose issues have never been more urgent.Worlds At War begins in the ancient world, where Greece saw its fight against the Persian Empire as one between freedom and slavery, between monarchy and democracy, between individuality and the worship of men as gods. Here, richly rendered, are the crucial battle of Marathon, considered the turning point of Greek and European history; the heroic attempt by the Greeks to turn the Persians back at Thermopylae; and Salamis, one of the greatest naval battles of all time, which put an end to the Persian threat forever.From there Pagden's story sweeps to Rome, which created the modern concepts of citizenship and the rule of law. Rome's leaders believed those they conquered to be free, while the various peoples of the East persisted in seeing their subjects as property. Pagden dramatizes the birth of Christianity in the East and its use in the West as an instrument of government, setting the stage for what would become, and has remained, a global battle of the secular against the sacred. Then Islam, at first ridiculed in Christian Europe, drives Pope Urban II to launch the Crusades, which transform the relationship between East and West into one of competing religious beliefs.Modern times bring a first world war, which among its many murky aims seeks to redesign the Muslim world by force. In our own era, Muslims now find themselves in unwelcoming Western societies, while the West seeks to enforce democracy and its own secular values through occupation in the East. Pagden ends on a cautionary note, warning that terrorism and war will continue as long as sacred and secular remain confused in the minds of so many.Eye-opening and compulsively readable, Worlds at War is a stunning work of history and a triumph of modern scholarship. It is bound to become the definitive work on the reasons behind the age-old and still escalating struggle that, more than any other, has come to define the modern world-a book for anyone seeking to know why "we came to be the way we are."From the Hardcover edition.
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