A foundational moment in the history of modern European thought, the Enlightenment continues to be a reference point for philosophers, scholars and opinion-formers. To many it remains the inspiration of our commitments to the betterment of the human condition. To others, it represents the elevation of one set of European values to the world, many of whose peoples have quite different values. But what is the relationship between the historical Enlightenment and the idea of 'Enlightenment', and can these two understandings be reconciled?
In this Very Short Introduction, John Robertson offers a concise historical introduction to the Enlightenment as an intellectual movement of eighteenth-century Europe. Discussing its intellectual achievements, he also explores how its supporters exploited new ways of communicating their ideas to a wider public, creating a new 'public sphere' for critical discussion of the moral, economic and political issues facing their societies.
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For all its concision, [this book] manages to be both wide-ranging and rigorious. In five compressed yet elegant chapters it summarizes the current state of research while also adding a series of important insights. * Times Literary Supplement *
the book does exactly what it says it will do * Chris Pierson, Political Studies Review *
This intelligently written and informative book is more than simply a "a very short introduction". John Robertson's book provides, although concisely, a thorough and original interpretation of the Enlightenment as both a historical phenomenon and a philosophical idea. * H-Albion *
1: Definitions of Enlightenment
3: Enlightenment ideas
4: Enlightening society
5: The politics of Enlightenment
6: The legacy of Enlightenment