Enlightenment Studies Category

Was Hobbes a Theologian?

During lunch a friend reminded me about an article on Hobbes I sent him a few weeks back. I had only quickly scanned it at the time, sent it to him, and apparently forgotten all about it. The article is written by Jonathan Sheehan, and published in The Journal of Modern History (June, 2016). It asks the provocative […]

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Philosophical Myths of the Fall

I came across a fascinating book today. I originally found it in a footnote in Peter Harrison’s The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science (2007). The book in question is Stephen Mulhall’s Philosophical Myths of the Fall  (2005). He begins with a long quote from Genesis 3, the story of mankind’s willful rebellion […]

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Religion and the Enlightenment

This blog has been on hiatus the last few months as I have been busy writing two papers for two conferences in July. I made the mistake of wanting to say something unique for each conference, and that has led me into the depths of archival research and the ever expanding secondary literature. The first […]

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A Brief Note on Cambridge’s History of Science Volume VII: The Modern Social Sciences

Edited by Theodore M. Porter and Dorothy Ross, The Cambridge History of Science Volume VII: The Modern Social Sciences (2003) is the last of the current seven volume series. There is, however, a forthcoming eight volume, entitled The Cambridge History of Science Volume VIII: Modern Science in National and International Contexts, edited by Ronald L. […]

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A Brief Note on Cambridge’s History of Science, Volume IV

The next installment of this series comes edited by Roy Porter, The Cambridge History of Science Volume 4: Eighteenth-Century Science (2003). Porter begins the volume by asking “What was Enlightenment Science?” According to historians, eighteenth-century science was subdued, “it lacks the heroic quality of what came before—the martyrdom of Bruno, Galileo’s titantc clash with the […]

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Social Uses of Science

The intellectual history of the eighteenth century, including the history of eighteenth-century science, used to be summed up in the term “Enlightenment.” However, as we have seen, no one has been able to define the term with any precision; nevertheless, most historians continue to use it to identify a set of opinions that characterized the […]

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The “Scientific Revolution” as Narratology (Part 1)

Roy Porter’s essay, “The scientific revolution: a spoke in the wheel?” in R. Porter and M. Teich (eds.) Revolution in History (1986) led me to I. Bernard Cohen’s “The Eighteenth-Century Origins of the Concept of Scientific Revolution” (1976), and then his expanded Revolution in Science (1985). In the next several posts, I want to address […]

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Myths about Science and Religion: That the Scientific Revolution Liberated Science from Religion

On May 12 of 2010, the general reading public witnessed a robust, if not at times acerbic, exchange between two prominent scholars of modern European history. It began with the publication of a review essay entitled “Mind the Enlightenment” in The Nation magazine by Samuel Moyn, professor of modern history at Columbia University. In that […]

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Desecularizing the World

Continuing the trend from the last post, in this post we will be looking at a different book, The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (1999), edited by Peter L. Berger. Few scholars have contributed so much to our understanding of religion and modernity as Berger. Beginning in the 1960s, he advanced […]

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Rethinking Secularism: José Casanova’s The Secular, Secularizations, Secularisms

José Casanova’s exemplary essay in Rethinking Secularism is one of the best I have read on the subject. Casanova, a professor of Sociology at Georgetown University and a Senior Fellow at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, engages secularism from a critical analytical angle. Because there are multiple and various ways of experiencing […]

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