The Dream of Enlightenment

Anthony Gottlieb

The writer of the celebrated The Dream of Motive vividly explains the rise of recent thought from Descartes to Rousseau

Western philosophy is now two and a half millennia outdated, however a lot of it got here in simply two staccato bursts, every lasting solely about 150 years. In his landmark survey of Western philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance, The Dream of Motive, Anthony Gottlieb documented the primary of those, which got here within the Athens of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Now, in The Dream of Enlightenment, Gottlieb expertly navigates the second nice explosion of thought, taking us to northern Europe within the wake of its wars of faith and the rise of Galilean science. In a comparatively brief interval – 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 start of recent philosophy.

As Gottlieb explains, all these males have been amateurs: none had a lot to do with any college. They tried to fathom the implications of the brand new science and of non secular upheaval, which led them to query conventional teachings and attitudes. What does the advance of science entail for our understanding of ourselves and for our concepts of God? How ought to a authorities take care of spiritual range – and what’s authorities really for? Such questions stay our questions.

But it’s as a result of we nonetheless wish to hear them that we are able to simply get these philosophers improper. It’s tempting to suppose they communicate our language and stay in our world; however to grasp them correctly, we should step again into their footwear. Gottlieb places readers within the minds of those ceaselessly misinterpreted figures, elucidating the historical past of their occasions whereas engagingly explaining their arguments and assessing their legacy. The Dream of Enlightenment creates a sweeping account of what they amounted to, and why we’re nonetheless of their debt.