Thursday, June 28, 2012

Israel's work on the Enlightenment

I finally decided to dive into Jonathan Israel's enormous work.  He has written 3 large tomes numbering around 3,000 pages total on the Enlightenment.  His major contribution to modern scholarship is to define the time period along its intellectual bearings.  He classifies it by two categories: the moderate and the radical.  The radical Enlightenment is the one he favors because it is more democratic and egalitarian and has its roots in the thought of Spinoza.

What I am really looking forward to with regards to his last of the trilogy, the Democratic Enlightenment, is his attempt in defining the Enlightenment itself in the first chapter.  This is a serious, well-researched book that  non-historians who think in the shadow of the Enlightenment should at least be aware of.  The more we take the historians seriously when they produce massive works of erudition then the more we will not continue the silly, generalized statements about the Enlightenment.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012