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Publisher's Summary

The author of the classic The Dream of Reason vividly explains the rise of modern thought.

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 burst, which came in the Athens of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Now, in The Dream of Enlightenment, Gottlieb expertly navigates a 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 mark. The 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, actually, is government for? Such questions remain our questions, which is why Descartes, Hobbes, and the others are still pondered today.

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 listeners in the minds of these frequently misinterpreted figures, elucidating the history of their times and the development of scientific ideas while engagingly explaining their arguments and assessing their legacy in lively prose.

With chapters focusing on Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Pierre Bayle, Leibniz, Hume, Rousseau, and Voltaire - and many walk-on parts - The Dream of Enlightenment creates a sweeping account of what the Enlightenment amounted to, and why we are still in its debt.

©2016 Anthony Gottlieb (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Manny
  • 2020-09-05

Should be taught in public schools

anybody looking to understand or get into and philosophy should start here. I graduated with a high school diploma and GED. I was able to follow along the whole time. the author is very clear and legible with his points. Easy to comprehend and retain. This is my first step in the philosophy. And I have to say I am in love with it. I was told to check it all by a friend. After I got in an argument with somebody and they suggested that I check out philosophy because a lot of my views and my argument and philosophy had a lot in relation. I Marathon through this whole entire book. I'm most likely going to do it a couple more times!!

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  • Marcus
  • 2020-03-21

Tradition and Criticism

Tradition and Criticism
This book deals with philosophers that lived and wrote in the late Seventeenth and early Eighteenth centuries. The works of Hobbes, Locke, Spinoza, Rousseau and Hume are exposed with emphasis in their worldviews and understandings of the role of religion in a world that was inclining toward reason. The dispute between these two chains of reasons - faith and enlightenment - is presented as a key to understand most of the works examined in the book. At the end, Anthony Gottlieb succeeds in presenting a good overview of this period in the history of ideas.

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  • TheGift
  • 2019-01-16

Very enlightening.

We definitely need more thinkers and teachers like Spinoza. Overall the book is excellent. I only wish more people read this type of books so we can grasp how philosophy has evolved and will evolve.

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  • Mark
  • 2017-07-16

Well written, easy to read, deep treatment

This is a decent exposition of enlightenment thinkers. It's a survey of ideas, though, so you will have to digest the differences of ideas yourself. Each of the influential thinkers is presented in depth.

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  • Joseph G.
  • 2021-10-14

Better fir a student

I didn’t expect the quite thorough discussions. This is probably an excellent fit for a student of Enlightenment thinkers and not for a layperson like me.

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  • Richard
  • 2021-06-11

Very thorough, well done

The author comes at it in a slightly different way than the four or five authors I have read on the subject of the Enlightenment. A very good addendum to their work.