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?
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.
©2013 Anthony Pagden (P)2013 Audible Inc.
When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
The expectation with which you come to a book can often colour how you judge a book in the end. With 'The Enlightenment - And Why it Still Matters' I expected a piece of objective history writing. If you have the same expectation you might be disappointed as Prof Anthony Pagden who specialises in Political Science and History has very clear cut ideas about the Enlightenment.
Prof Pagden is a heavy-weight in his field and speaks with authority of what he knows... but it seems more as a Political Scientist than as a Historian. That said his facts seems to be impeccable. His tract gives a positive evaluation of the 'Enlightenment' by introducing the major thought leaders of its time as well as their thoughts. By doing so he successfully explains the phenomena that lead to the modern world. The book is often very informative. But it seems that Padgen purposefully ignores the dark side of the Enlightenment, maybe because of the negative way it impacted on religion in the West and because he shares this negative inclination towards it.
Pairing Pagden's book with the voice of Robert Blumenfeld (who also read 'Jurgen' under the "Neil Gaiman presents" label) might not have been the best match. I found Blumenfeld very difficult to follow. He has a rushing quality in his reading. Furthermore he is not consistent in his pronunciation of Latin, while his German and French pronunciation are excellent. Yet he is not one of my favourite interpretative readers.
It is a solid book, but biased... It is difficult at some times to follow. Yet Padgen has written a tract that do not only introduce you to the Enlightenment, it is sure to produce proper debate.
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