[Radical Enlightenment Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650 1750] Pdf Ï Jonathan I. Israel
Jonathan I. Israel
The Accidental Beauty Queen eruditextensive and inspiring study on a seminal moment in Western thought commonly known as the Age of EnlightenmentIn short the Enlightenment marks a change from a thought and society that was theologically focused to thought and society that were secular and scientific in character This period and this transition has been much studied but Israel has many new insights to offer In addition he writes a book filled with wonderful detail with rare thinkers and books that make the reader yearn to learn It is an nlightening xperience in itself to read this bookThe book begins with the philosophy of Descartes which is widely regarded as overthrowing the philosophy of scholasticism and initiating the modern period Descartes developed a dualism with a mechanistic philosophy of nature and a spiritual philosophy of mind It was the first of many attempts to reconcile theology with the newly developed scientific outlookBut the focus of Professor Israel s study is on Spinoza 1632 1677 Spinoza rejected Cartesian dualism and developed his philosophy uating God and Nature He rejected a transcendental God providence miracles revelation and transcendental bases for human thics Spinoza developed his ideas in his Ethics while in his Crown of Stars (Crown of Stars, earlier and almostually important Theological Political Treatise Spinoza developed the basis for modern Bible criticismProfessor Israel argues that Spinoza s thought constitutes the basis for what he terms radical nlightenment which rejected theology and revealed religion in favor of a philosophy of mechanism and determinism Radical nlightenment proved to be a potent weapon in rejecting the divine right of kings and other forms of privilege in promoting democracy and the rights of women in ncouraging free speech and free thought and in allowing people to pursue happiness in particular sexual fulfillment in this world without fear of hells and punishments in the next world Spinoza influenced many scholars and thinkers and also Israel points out had substantial influence on unlettered people of his timeProfessor Israel contrasts the Radical Enlightenment manating from Spinoza with moderate This Forsaken Earth enlightenment Moderatenlightenment sought as indicated above to reconcile mechanism and science with traditional religious faith to the The Summer Palace: A Captive Prince Short Story (Captive Prince Short Stories Book 2) extent possible Professor Israel identifies three separate strains of moderatenlightenment Cartesianism the monadic philosophy of Leibniz and Wolff and the deism and mpiricism of Locke and Newton Most of the book is about Radical Enlightenment and its impact and about the interplay between Radical Enlightenment on the one hand and Moderate Enlightenment and traditionalism on the other handThe book includes a good basic xposition of the thought of Spinoza The Campfire exposition of Descartes thought and of the teachings of scholasticism is less thorough The major theme of the book is that Spinoza s ideas were not simply those of an isolated recluse rather his ideas became widely known and disseminatedven during his lifetime and became the basis for much of the secular modern thought and life
we have todayIsrael discusses a plethora of sources some well known some highlyhave todayIsrael discusses a plethora of sources some well known some highly in which various thinkers from throughout Europe another theme of Israel s book is that Enlightenment was European in character and shared ssentially the same features in all European countries adopted and promulgated Spinozistic doctrines The books and individuals are fascinating as are the conflicts many of them ncountered with civil and religious authorities He discusses how many writers had to try to present their teachings covertly ie by appearing to criticize Spinozism while in fact advocating it in order to attempt to avoid conflict There are also Hurrah For The Blackshirts!: Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the Wars extended treatments of Leibniz and Locke and their interactions with Radical EnlightenmentFor the most part Professor Israel avoidsxplicit comment on the philosophical merits of the many ideas and thinkers he xplores The reader is left to think through the issues on the basis of his descriptions and from the words of the thinkers themselves It is a fascinating studyI have long been a student of Spinoza and came away from this book awed by the wealth of learning displayed in this book and by the scope and influence of Radical Enlightenment in the years following Spinoza s death Philosophically I came away from this book with a new appreciation of the virtues of Western secularism and with a renewed understanding of the dear price that has been paid for the intellectual liberation of the mind and heart It is a journey that very person must undertake for him or herself and many people may reach results that differ from those reached during the age of Radical Enlightenment Spinoza s goal shared with the religious thinkers whom he rejected was to find the path to human blessedness Crazy Love enlightenment and happiness by freeing the mind I got a good sense of the value of this search through reading this masterful bookRobin Friedman Appearing in 2001 and weighing in at over 800 pages this is the first of a projected three volumes on the Enlightenment In this first volume Israel constructs the basic argument that is foundational for the second and third volumes which together present a comprehensive survey of the Enlightenment as a whole He sets out to supplant Peter Gay s two volume work which has been the standard treatment of the Enlightenment for three decades Reviewers are abuzz Back in 1981 Margaret Jacob argued that the Dutch Republic was crucial to the Enlightenment After France revoked the Edict of Nantes Huguenots fled to the four winds and a concentrated population settled in the Dutch Republic Their refugeexperience forged arteries of traffic for the book trade all over Europe and printing boomed in the low countries Their sour xperience in France gave these Huguenots a decidedly anti monarchist tilt and new notions of social order were set forth in treatises that flowed out of the Dutch Republic Now Jonathan Israel picks up on Jacob s thesis but inexplicably he does not interact with her work She took polite umbrage in her review that appeared in The Journal of Modern History Vol 75 No 2 Jun 2003 pp 387 389 Back to Israel s big book Coinciding with this focus on the Dutch Republic is an mphasis on Spinoza the main protagonist of Radical Enlightenment which Jacob had previously suggested The uestion of Spinozism is indeed central and indispensable to any proper understanding of Early Enlghtenment European thought he says Israel s choice of Spinoza who was born and raised in a Jewish community in the Dutch Republic may have been anticipated by his previous books on arly modern Jews and on the Dutch Republic books which this rudite but meandering and interminable volume makes i think three central claims they are 1 that something like a unified nlightenment as opposed to the multiple nlightenments that historians talk about now Black Heart, Red Ruby existed in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries 2 that therexisted radical and moderate strains of nlightenment thought and 3 that Spinoza was the most radical the
MOST COMPREHENSIVE AND THE MOST INFLUENTIAL INTELLECTUAL FIGURE OFcomprehensive and the most influential intellectual figure of period3 is the most interesting but unfortunately the most implausible claim of the bunch Israel does demonstrate convincingly that Spinoza s texts were known and considered dangerous throughout Europe but the same could be said of Hobbes and Israel simply waves his hand at this rather obvious but potentially problematic alternative hypothesisRelatedly Israel tends to conflate uestions of philosophical comprehensiveness with uestions of historical influence He posits that Spinoza was the most
comprehensive thinker of the 17th century he is i think right about thisthinker of the 17th century he is i think right about this he is right for the wrong reasons and on this basis concludes that he was also the most influential This inference is undefended unwarranted and somewhat implausibleThough the scope of Israel s scholarship is impressive one wonders whether depth was sacrificed at the altar of breadth in this work His ngagements with the central texts of the 17th century Locke s in particular are breezy unsystematic and New Plant Parent: Learn the Ways of Plant Parenthood even careless All that aside it is a pretty damn good piece of scholarship and should be read by anyone who cares about modern intellectual history I abandoned this book after a few hundred pages It makes me increasingly angry It s also unenlighteningHow can one write a book about thenlightenment that is so unwilling to Dreaming Me: An African-American Woman's Buddhist Journey enlighten I m baffled how so muchrudition and scholarship can be poured into a tome that reads like a PhD thesis with an audience of 1 Mind you I like books that are challenging and flatter the reader s intelligence But I d rather have my groin pummeled by Spinoza s femur than subject myself to yet another page of flat turgid conceited repetitious numeration of which new pamphlet created immediate outcry in which Dutch city Instead please tell me what the pamphlet said Please Jonathan what was the radical contents of the Enlightenment that we must witness hundreds and hundreds of pages of reaction toPlease tell meOh and please don t tell me in French For some reason the author uotes xtensively in French Here s a random ЯED excerpt I literally opened my book at a random page In the words of his critics Jaues Saurin a prominent Huguenot preacer at The Hague Bayle was a genius who lived a sober austere life but used his pen attauer la chastet la modiestie toutes les vertus chr tiennes and while adamantly professing his allegiance to the Reformed faith repeated the objections to Christianity of all the world s greatest heretics leur pr tant des armes nouvellest r unissant dans n tre si cle toutes les rreurs des si cles passez This is a typical sentence in the book the point of the passage is in French Many pages have several of these ntire chapters are probably senseless for readers who are not francophone Now I have good The Lost Art of Reading Natures Signs enough French to justxactly be able to follow it but it slows me down French is my fifth language And it annoys me Every Bloody Time Dutch philosophers German Spanish Italian Jonathan Israel translates all of them But for some reason Moreno every turn of phrase that the author got in French must find its way into the book in the original Why somebody wants to write a book and about the Enlightenment to boot with such a conceited mindset is well cst au del de ma compr hensionCan I imagine a readership for this book Sure I m not it This is one of the few books I read in grad school that I really feel I benefited from being Monsieur Pain exposed to When I return to it I am surprised by how rich and compelling it is in spite. Htenment was not French British German Italian Jewish or Dutch but all of these at the same timeIn this wide ranging volume Jonathan Israel offers a novel interpretation of the Radical Enlightenment down to La Mettie and Diderot two of its keyxponents Particular mphasis is placed on the pivotal role of Spinoza and the widespread underground international philosophical movement known before 1750 as Spinozis. .
Losophy or science is possible pp 244 245The rise of the mechanistic world view commencing with Galileo and Descartes and specially the formulation and refinement of the laws of motion itself intensified the growing conceptual antithesis in European culture and thought between the natural and supernatural The sharpening of this antithesis in other words is a typical and general seventeenth century phenomenon dEscartes Hobbes Leibniz Malebranche and innumerable lesser figures all contributed in various ways to heightening awareness and stimulating debate about this growing dichotomy of reality Yet only Spinoza creates an absolute and irreconcilable antithesis between these increasingly distinct ways of comprehending reality dismissing the supernatural as a total figment of our imagination Re mbodying the principle of classical Greek atheism according to Muller Spinoza is the prime propogator and restorer of ideas which set the natural in fundamental conflict with the miraculous thereby threatening the whole basis of Christian and he might have added also Jewish and Islamic civilization ideas faith authority morality and the political and social order pp245 246The most important and xceptional The Exhaustion Breakthrough element in Spinoza s scientific thought then is simply that natural philosophy or science is of universal applicability and that there is n lo reserved area beyond it This implied a stark contrast between Spinoza s scientific rationality and that orvery other leading philosopher and scientist of the age not least Descartes Everything that Descartes had said surpasses human understanding Meyer had stated can according to Spinoza not only be conceived clearly and distinctly but also The Exhaustion Breakthrough: Unmask the Hidden Reasons You're Tired and Beat Fatigue for Good explained very satisfactorily provided only Man s intellect is guided by the search for truth and knowledge of things along a different path from that which Descartes opened up Inffect Descartes mechanistic world view was being radically Supplemental Book extended toncompass the whole of reality p246In place of Hobbes assigning a contracted overriding power to the sovereign Spinoza leaves the citizen with his natural rights intact according to an automatic and inevitable right of resistance and power of resistance wherever the State proves unable to asset its authority over its subjects an incapacity the likely the further one departs from democracy Effectively Spinoza was the first major European thinker in modern times though he is preceded here by Johan de la Court and Van den Enden to mbrace democratic republicanism as the highest and most fully rational form of political organization and the one best suited to the needs of men Monarchy conversely is deemed altogether less perfect rational and fitted to the genuine concerns of human society p259 There is no business like clandestine philosophy businessHow I love this noble manMore than I can say with wordsStill I fear he remains aloneWith his shining halo Albert EinsteinJonathan Israel s monumental tome is a rich and valuable compendium of historical research It highlights with staggering rudition and zealous advocacy the somewhat neglected importance of Spinoza and the Spinozists a rather loose grouping of writers polemicists philosophers and demagogues for the radical transformation of European society into the direction of democracy secularism freedom and tolerance Focusing on the history of ideas it relies on the republic of letters mostly consisting of aristocratic white men as its main source of material It thus sets aside the Colloquial Polish: The Complete Course for Beginners everyday life of the masses and propounds an idea driven vision of history with the knowledge and faith that such an approach aloof andlitist as it may seem is the only way to find the true causes of how we can improve the living standards of the vast majority of the peopleThe gist of such an outlook is that ideas matter that some ideas matter than others because they are powerful or transformative and that the general mass society CAN BE and HAS BEEN changed as a result of the battle of ideas fought within the ranks of the intellectual and journalistic classes The nd result of such battles which have been waging ver since man first invented symbolic representation and language has been a continuously shifting climate of opinion The world of ideas has only been rendered or less secure at one historical conjuncture or another by political power relations and symbolic control in a fixed social setting The purpose of radical philosophy is to realign these political social and ideological structuresThe Bidadari yang Mengembara earthuakes and wildfires metaphorical rather than physical that have led to the revolutions of modernity be it the politicalsocial revolutions or the scientifictechnological revolutions have been stirred not by blind forces of history but by the fierce debate around new ideasOf all such newfangled ideasspecially meritorious ones philosophy and science have provided the major share although they have always fought against mass superstition political tyranny and religious dogma This was specially true in the crucial years of 1650 1750 or for that matter until the 1790s which is when the book actually nds with Robespierre and the French RevolutionThe great achievement of Israel s in depth research is to provide a counter narrative to many of the La strada delle croci existing histories of the philosophical underpinnings of the Enlightenment by focusing much needed attention on the Dutch contextspecially the vibrant intellectual atmosphere around Spinoza and a dozen other radical writers in Amsterdam Hague Leiden and lsewhereThe book provides an xcellent showcase of the importance of the relative freedom of the Dutch Republic justly lauded by contemporary and subseuent radical authors as a breeding ground The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth especially in the publication sense but also in the conception sense of radical philosophyI share with Israel hisnthusiasm for Spinoza The greatness of Spinoza was of world historical significance ven if the true depth of his philosophy has not been appreciated widely ven today Israel decisively shows how Spinoza s influence far from being negligible formed an important and vital backbone of the intellectual debates around scripture secular authority and science The main importance of Spinoza was as many of his detractors pointed out to revive many of the
pre Christian ideas of naturalism fatalism and rationalism but in a fresh and systematic fashion He tookChristian ideas of naturalism fatalism and rationalism but in a fresh and systematic fashion He took s rationalist challenge and radicalised it to a potent weapon of reason He argued for the toleration of freethinking the uestioning of authority including the Bible the promotion of rationalism science and naturalism and the introduction of republican liberalism He undermined the faith in the supernatural that the old regime of kings and priests rested on He showed the way for scientific rationalism deism atheism true freedom of the press and liberation of the self He could be characterized as the 1 Pretty Reckless (All Saints High, enemy of Church State Tradition and StupidityThat he clearly DID affect Europe from France to Germany and Italy to Scandinavia despite the near universal condemnation and demonization he faced and not only from the political and spiritual defenders of the status uo but also from fellow modernizers and philosophers who nonetheless often admired Spinoza s courage privately is a testament to the power of his philosophy the radical lure of his ideas among fellow intellectuals and the needs of the time The fact that Spinoza shaped European thought in a major wayven in such a hostile and toxic nvironment proves that slow patient reasoned argumentation can indeed create lasting ffects The West Transformed even if it comes at the cost of one s reputation social standing and occasionallyven one s lifeTo be sure Israel places Spinoza s influence in the proper context of his radical Dutch contemporaries the Brothers Koerbagh Van den Enden Bekker tc and in the context of his major arguably less radical contemporaries specially the neo Cartesians including Malebranche the Leibnitian Wolffians and the Newtonian Lockeans including VoltaireThe zeal for Spinoza which makes the book such a joy to read and which is amply justified by the archival material from a dozen or so countries unfortunately also casts a shadow over the whole nterprise Other reviewers have pointed out the
author s monomaniacal desire to paint Spinoza in a favourable light Hes monomaniacal desire to paint Spinoza in a favourable light He this paradoxically nough by showing that he was the most reviled and hated author of his day This fact then is used to argue that Spinoza s ideas were out of all his contemporaries the most at odds with the spiritual and political authorities of his day The nd result is that the philosophical radicalism of Hobbes Locke and a handful of other potential co sources or co revolutionaries within the Ur sprung of the Enlightenment gets painted with a broad brush as unfairly and unrealistically moderate and non radical in comparison This leads to a very one sided picture of the radical potential of the time It is simply not true that Spinoza was the ONLY truly radical thinker of the age although he surely was ONE of them And it is simply not true to say that he was ALWAYS the MOST radical thinker His political writings in my opinion are LESS radical than those of Locke who argues for a libertarian basis for popular government and his fatalistic materialism while certainly astoundingly radical is not THAT much different from the theory of matter in motion in Hobbes from whom he learned a lot By trying to put Spinoza on a pedestal and trying to downplay the influence of his contemporaries Israel nds up doing disservice to many great philosophers who have contributed to radical thoughtSo the major flaw with the work is that the reader cannot The Complete Polly and the Wolf entirely trust that the comprehensive Zeitgeist of thera is represented VOYAGES DE GRANDE CROISIERE evenly and fairly when the true focus of the book is to paint a picture of thera as the A Riesling to Die era of clandestine Spinozism conuering Europe But considering how littlemphasis has been placed on Spinoza and Spinozism in past historiography such overshooting is at least understandable although it cannot be Pookie-Pie: A Sweet Bedtime Story entirely forgiven However when combined with the fact that the structure of the book is a bit bloated and occasionally aimless I must subtract one starFor me personally this book has been a godsend It provides the definite historical narrative of the influence of my favourite philosopher and it does so convincingly painstakingly and zealously It resurrects the name of dozens of minor authors and revolutionaries many of whose fate was tragic whose role in the spreading of radical ideas was once important and continues to be fascinating In learning about the public debates and intellectual heresies of centuries past we can perhaps inoculate ourselves against repeating the book burnings and often literal witch hunts of the pastAs a scholarly tour de force despite its forbidding length and small print font Israel s Radical Enlightenment is an important contribution to the revitalizing interest in Spinoza Beyond its somewhat overzealous tone and dismissive attitude towards other philosophers it provides a perspective that is firmly rooted in fact citation andvidence just as Spinoza would have wanted Hopefully this book serves as a springboard for other people to go back to read Spinoza s books in their full glory A history book likes to use Spinoza to measure the forgone stupidities of yesterday but there is much to be learned from his systematic philosophy ven today and ven tomorrow His Ethics in particular deserves to be read and re read hopefully with a useful commentary for its cogent rationalism and revolutionary naturalism Although he was born 400 years ago I believe he will remain a timely thinker for the next 400 years too Re ngaging post Darwin post M with Spinoza s philosophy can be thrilling Perhaps only today with the potent revolutions in biology genetics neurology computing tc we can finally und. Ecclesiastical power as well as man's dominance over woman theological dominance of A Warlocks Dance (The Cursed Princes, education and slavery Despite the present day interest in the revolutions of theighteenth century the origins and rise of the Radical Enlightenment have received limited scholarly attention The greatest obstacle to the movement finding its proper place in modern historical writing is its international scope the Radical Enlig.
Jonathan I. Israel