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Jonathan I. Israel's View of the Enlightenments

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 [paperback] by Jonathan I. Israel (Oxford University Press) [hardcover] In the wake of the Scientific Revolution, the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw the complete demolition of traditional structures of authority, scientific thought, and belief by the new philosophy and the philosophes, including Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau. The Radical Enlightenment played a part in this revolutionary process, which effectively overthrew all justification for monarchy, aristocracy, and ecclesiastical power, as well as man's dominance over woman, theological dominance of education, and slavery. Despite the present day interest in the revolutions of the eighteenth 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 Racial Enlightenment was not French, British, German, Italian, Jewish or Dutch, but all of these at the same time.
In this wide-ranging volume, Jonathan Israel offers a novel interpretation of the Radical Enlightenment down to La Mettie and Diderot, two of its key exponents. Particular emphasis is placed on the pivotal role of Spinoza and the widespread underground international philosophical movement known before 1750 as Spinozism.

Excerpt: There are various ways of interpreting the European Enlightenment, some long cultivated in the historiography, others of more recent provenance. One formidable tradition of study adopts a primarily 'French' perspective, seeing the wider European phenomenon as a projection of French ideas and intellectual concerns, especially those of Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, D'Alembert, d'Holbach, and Rousseau. Another approach, which enjoys support not only among Anglophone but also some continental scholars, envisages the Enlightenment as an intellectual reorientation inspired chiefly by English ideas and science, especially the endeavours of Locke and Newton. In recent years, it has also become fashionable to claim there was not one Enlightenment but rather an entire constellation or family of `Enlightenments', related but distinct, growing up in numerous different national contexts. Finally, there has also been an incipient tendency latterly to distinguish between a mainstream `moderate' and a more radical underground Enlightenment, albeit usually with the latter being deemed essentially marginal to the wider phenomenon.

One of my two main purposes in this work is to argue for another and different way of approaching the subject. The French perspective, though it has much to offer, remains increasingly susceptible to the charge that it underestimates the extensive philosophical and scientific borrowing all major eighteenth-century French thinkers engaged in. The 'English' approach might seem initially more plausible, not least since Voltaire's original stance was based almost wholly on Locke and Newton. Yet given the slow and sporadic reception of Locke and Newton outside Britain, and still more the often penetrating criticism their ideas were subjected to, this perspective is, in reality, even more vulnerable not just to the charge that it overly inflates the role of a particular nation but also that it fails to grasp the wider play of forces involved. As for the idea that we are dealing with a whole family of Enlightenments, there are seemingly insuperable objections to this too. For this notion encourages the tendency to study the subject within the context of 'national history' which is decidedly the wrong framework for so international and pan-European a phenomenon. Worse still, it unacceptably ignores or overlooks the extent to which common impulses and concerns shaped the Enlightenment as a whole.

My first goal then is to try to convey, however imperfectly and tentatively, a sense of the European Enlightenment as a single highly integrated intellectual and cultural movement, displaying differences in timing, no doubt, but for the most part preoccupied not only with the same intellectual problems but often even the very same books and insights everywhere from Portugal to Russia and from Ireland to Sicily. Arguably, indeed, no major cultural transformation in Europe, since the fall of the Roman Empire, displayed anything comparable to the impressive cohesion of European intellectual culture in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. For it was then that western and central Europe first became, in the sphere of ideas, broadly a single arena integrated by mostly newly invented channels of communication, ranging from newspapers, magazines, and the salon to the coffee-shop and a whole array of fresh cultural devices of which the erudite journals (invented in the 166os) and the `universal' library were particularly crucial.

My second objective is to demonstrate that the Radical Enlightenment, far from being a peripheral development, is an integral and vital part of the wider picture and was seemingly even more internationally cohesive than the mainstream Enlightenment. Frequently, the moderate mainstream were consciously, even desperately, reacting to what was widely perceived as the massively dangerous threat posed by radical thought. Many scholars will, I assume, be rather surprised by the prominence given here to the role of Spinoza and Spinozism not only on the continent but even in the British context where, historiographically, there has been a persistent refusal to acknowledge that Spinoza had any influence at all. Yet a close reading of the primary materials strongly suggests, at least to me, that Spinoza and Spinozism were in fact the intellectual backbone of the European Radical Enlightenment everywhere, not only in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, and Scandinavia but also Britain and Ireland.

Of course, neither the Enlightenment itself, and still less its consequences, were limited to Europe. There is indeed a further dimension to the problem of how to interpret the Enlightenment. For if the Enlightenment marks the most dramatic step towards secularization and rationalization in Europe's history, it does so no less in the wider history not just of western civilization but, arguably, of the entire world. From this, it plainly follows, it was one of the most important shifts in the history of man. Fittingly, there exists a vast and formidable literature on the topic. Yet there are comparatively few general surveys and large-scale interpretative works, and it is possible to question whether it really receives the emphasis it deserves in the study and teaching of modern history, in comparison, for example, with the Renaissance and the Reformation. These too, of course, were vast and fundamental changes, at any rate in western civilization. Nevertheless, these earlier great cultural movements, limited as they were to western and central Europe, are really only adjustments, modifications to what was essentially still a theologically conceived and ordered regional society, based on hierarchy and ecclesiastical authority; not universality and equality.

By contrast, the Enlightenment—European and global—not only attacked and severed the roots of traditional European culture in the sacred, magic, kingship, and hierarchy, secularizing all institutions and ideas, but (intellectually and to a degree in practice) effectively demolished all legitimation of monarchy, aristocracy, woman's subordination to man, ecclesiastical authority, and slavery, replacing these with the principles of universality, equality, and democracy. This implies the Enlightenment was of a different order of importance for understanding the rise of the modern world than the Reformation and Renaissance, and that there is something disproportionate and inadequate about its coverage in the existing historiography. But to assess its assuredly overriding global significance one must first gauge the Enlightenment as a whole, which means, in my view, giving due weight to the Radical Enlightenment and, equally, emancipating ourselves from the deadly compulsion to squeeze the Enlightenment, radical and mainstream, into the constricting strait-jacket of 'national history'.

To many a courtier, official, teacher, lawyer, physician, and churchman, philosophy and philosophers seemed to have burst upon the European scene in the late seventeenth century with terrifying force. Countless books reflect the unprecedented and, for some, intoxicating, intellectual and spiritual upheaval of those decades, a vast turbulence in every sphere of knowledge and belief which shook European civilization to its foundations. A sense of shock and acute danger penetrated even the most remote and best defended fastnesses of the west. The Spanish physician Diego Matheo Zapata, writing in 1690---before his own conversion to Cartesianism implored the cohorts of Cartesians and Malebranchistas besieging every citadel of traditional learning in Spain to desist, warning that it was not just received philosophy and science which was at stake but also, ultimately, the beliefs of the people, the authority of Church and Inquisition, the very foundations of Spanish society.' A Spanish professor of medicine claimed, in 1716, that Descartes' philosophy had thrown all Europe into the greatest intellectual and spiritual perplexity seen for centuries.' In less isolated regions the agitation was no less. A Zeeland preacher, writing in 1712, appalled by the impact of Descartes, Spinoza, and Bayle, despairingly compared the Netherlands of his time to the ancient Athens of the warring Hellenistic philosophy schools, a land racked by intellectual controversy where rival schools of thought battled ceaselessly, philosophy divided the ruling elite, and even the common people were proving susceptible to new ideas, letting themselves be led like children through the whirlwinds of thought', the helpless prey of philosophical seducers and, through new ideas, becoming entrapped in the `Devil's snares'? Parts of this tide of new concepts, moreover, were of a distinctly radical character, that is, totally incompatible with the fundamentals of traditional authority, thought, and belief.

During the later Middle Ages and the early modern age down to around 1650, western civilization was based on a largely shared core of faith, tradition, and authority. By contrast, after 1650, everything, no matter how fundamental or deeply rooted, was questioned in the light of philosophical reason and frequently challenged or replaced by startlingly different concepts generated by the New Philosophy and what may still usefully be termed the Scientific Revolution. Admittedly the Reformation had earlier engendered a deep split in western Christendom. But throughout the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth, there was still much, intellectually and spiritually, that the western segments of Christendom shared. Mid-seventeenth century Europe was still, not just predominantly but overwhelmingly, a culture in which all debates about man, God, and the World which penetrated into the public sphere revolved around `confessional'—that is Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed (Calvinist), or Anglican issues, and scholars fought above all to establish which confessional bloc possessed a monopoly of truth and a God-given title to authority. It was a civilization in which almost no one challenged the essentials of Christianity or the basic premises of what was taken to be a divinely ordained system of aristocracy, monarchy, land-ownership, and ecclesiastical authority.

By contrast, after 165o, a general process of rationalization and secularization set in which rapidly overthrew theology's age-old hegemony in the world of study, slowly but surely eradicated magic and belief in the supernatural from Europe's intellectual culture, and led a few openly to challenge everything inherited from the past—not just commonly received assumptions about mankind, society, politics, and the cosmos but also the veracity of the Bible and the Christian faith or indeed any faith. Of course, most people at all levels of society were profoundly disquieted by such sweeping intellectual and cultural change and frightened by the upsurge of radical thinking. Jeremiads were heard everywhere. In Germany, from the 167os onwards, there was a powerful reaction to the sudden stream of 'godless' books appearing in both Latin and the vernacular and obviously designed to overthrow all conventionally accepted values and beliefs.' University students were assumed to be especially vulnerable. A treatise by a Leipzig theologian published in 1708 sought to equip German professors with ready-made, concise Latin answers and philosophical demonstrations with which to combat the tide of philosophical atheism, deism, Naturalism, fatalism, and Neo-Epicureanism, and especially the penetration of the kind of radical thought which 'calls God Nature' and equates 'His intelligence, energy, and capability, with Natura Naturans' , that is, the most systematically philosophical form of atheism.'

Whereas before 1650 practically everyone disputed and wrote about confessional differences, subsequently, by the 1680s, it began to be noted by French, German, Dutch, and English writers that confessional conflict, previously at the centre, was increasingly receding to secondary status and that the main issue now was the escalating contest between faith and incredulity. Instead of theological controversy, 'now', exclaimed an English publicist abhorring Anthony Collins' A Discourse of Freethinking (1713), a work which rejects scriptural authority and provoked deep outrage, 'now religion in general is the question; religion is the thing stabb'd at; the controversie now is, whether there ought to be any form of religion on earth, or whether there be any God in Heaven.'

Revealed religion and ecclesiastical authority long remained the chief targets of the new radical thinkers. But they were by no means the only ones. A prominent late seventeenth-century German court official, the Freiherr Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff (1626-92), observed in 1685 that what the radicals ultimately intended was to make 'life in this world' the basis of politics.' This, he explained, amounted to a revolution in outlook and expectations which potentially changed everything. Numerous theologians, he grants, strove valiantly to counter the disastrous impact of the new radical ideas, especially Spinozism, which he saw as the backbone of the radical challenge in the sphere of faith and Church authority. But what was insufficiently grasped in the Germany of his day and inadequately opposed, in his opinion, were the consequences of such ideas as Spinoza's for politics, the public sphere, and the individual's place in society For in Spinoza, he avers, nothing is based on God's Word or commandment so that no institutions are God-ordained and no laws divinely sanctioned: hence the only legitimacy in politics is the self-interest of the individual.' Nor did the mounting strife over the nature and status of morality reverberate any less stridently. The Dutch preacher, Johannes Aalstius, held in his general introduction to Christian ethics, published at Dordrecht in 1705, that the new radicalism, and especially Spinozism, overturns the entire structure of divinely ordained morality.' Were such influences to gain wide acceptance, he predicted, mankind would in the future concern itself only with individual happiness in this life.' To many it appeared a frightful prospect.

It is, furthermore, a drama which profoundly involved the common people, even those who were unschooled and illiterate. What did they know of the Scientific Revolution or the new philosophical ideas, one might well ask? Surely, it is often supposed, there was turmoil on the surface but little change in the minds and outlook of the great majority. But while it is true that the intellectual revolution of the late seventeenth century was primarily a crisis of elites—courtiers, officials, scholars, patricians, and clergy, it was precisely these elites which moulded, supervised, and fixed the contours of popular culture. Consequently, an intellectual crisis of elites quickly made an impact on ordinary men's attitudes too and by no means only the minority of literate artisans and small bourgeoisie. Doubtless some officials, theologians, and academics toyed with trying to confine the more awesome shifts in ideas to the sphere of elite culture so as to preserve intact the existing structures of authority and belief among the common people. After 1650, as those pervaded by the new concepts increasingly doubted the existence of Hell and the reality of eternal torment for the damned, for example, some consideration was given to whether it might be possible to screen such disbelief from the general population." But attempting such wholesale deception would have involved restructuring the entire system of cultural relations between elites and common people on the basis of consciously, systematically, and universally propagated fraud and deceit, scarcely a feasible project.

In practice, ordinary folk could not be shielded from the philosophical revolution transforming the outlook and attitudes of Europe's elites.' To many the consequences of this seemed alarming in the extreme. Especially worrying, according to Seckendorff, was the growing trend among ordinary folk to mock Holy Scripture, reject Heaven and Hell, doubt the immortality of the soul, and question the existence of Satan, demons, and spirits.' If one demands proof that new ideas were rapidly transforming attitudes and beliefs throughout society, such proof was abundantly evident on every side and in every part of Europe. Indeed, surely no other period of European history displays such a profound and decisive shift towards rationalization and secularization at every level as the few decades before Voltaire. 'The triumph of the mechanical philosophy,' it has been rightly asserted, 'meant the end of the animistic conception of the universe which had constituted the basic rationale for magical thinking.' In England a veritable sea-change had taken place by the early eighteenth century. In Holland medals were issued in the 169os celebrating the slaying of Satan and the end of belief in magic and witchcraft. In Germany the key public campaign, based on new philosophical ideas, which brought the trying and burning of witches to an end, took place during the first decade of the eighteenth century. Similarly, as has been justly observed of society and culture in Venice, if one wants to know when the crucial shift took place which led to the end of cases of sorcery, the virtual end of ecclesiastical control over intellectual life, and the first emergence of women into the public sphere as putatively equal to men in intellect, artistic capabilities, and personal freedom, then that decisive moment occurred in the period between 1700 and 175o.

If one accepts there is a direct and crucial connection between the intellectual revolution of the late seventeenth century and the wide-ranging social and cultural change in Europe in the period immediately preceding Voltaire, then the implications for the history of Enlightenment thought are far-reaching. There is indeed an urgent need for Enlightenment historians to put much more emphasis on what was happening before and down to the 1740s. Inded, there is a case for arguing that the most crucial developments were already over by the middle of the eighteenth century. Certainly the Radical Enlightenment arose and matured in under a century, culminating in the materialistic and atheistic books of La Mettrie and Diderot in the 174os. These men, dubbed by Diderot the 'Nouveaux Spinosistes', wrote works which are in the main a summing up of the philosophical, scientific, and political radicalism of the previous three generations. Seen in this light they represent the extreme, most uncompromising fringe of the general trend in culture and ideas towards rationalization and secularization. But their less radical colleagues undoubtedly had a far greater impact on attitudes and popular culture. In fact, neither the Reformation of the sixteenth century nor the so-called 'High Enlightenment' of the post-1750 period—often little more than footnotes to the earlier shift—even begins to compete with the intellectual upheaval of the Early Enlightenment in terms of sheer impact, and the depth and extent of the intellectual and spiritual changes it brought about. It may be that the story of the High Enlightenment after 1750 is more familiar to readers and historians, but that does not alter the reality that the later movement was basically just one of consolidating, popularizing, and annotating revolutionary concepts introduced earlier. Consequently, even before Voltaire came to be widely known, in the 1740s, the real business was already over.

Most accounts of the European Enlightenment concentrate on developments in only one or two countries, particularly England and France. Although it is often taken for granted that this is where the most important philosophical and scientific developments in the century 1650-1750 took place, there are strong grounds for questioning the validity of such an approach. For the intellectual scenario of the age was extremely wide-ranging and was never confined to just one or two regions. It was, on the contrary, a drama played out from the depths of Spain to Russia and from Scandinavia to Sicily. Its complexity and awesome dynamic force sprang not only from the diversity and incompatibility of the new philosophical and scientific systems themselves but also from the tremendous power of the traditionalist counter-offensive, a veritable 'Counter-Enlightenment' which, as with the Counter-Reformation of the sixteenth century, generated a major reorganization and revitalization of traditional structures of authority, thought, and belief. For the age of confessional antagonism, broadly the period 1520-1650, had equipped Europe's governments, churches, courts, schools, and universities with newly devised or reinforced mechanisms of spiritual and intellectual control which proved extremely effective in tightening the cohesion of society and culture, and strengthening the State and ecclesiastical authority, and therefore represented an accumulation of power and influence which was not going to be lightly abandoned anywhere.

However, even the most assertive and intolerant of these instruments of doctrinal supervision, such as the Calvinist consistoires or the Spanish Inquisition, were primarily geared to eradicate theological dissent and were soon partly, if not largely, outflanked and neutralized by the advance of new philosophies and scientific ideas which posed a much tougher problem for ecclesiastical authority to deal with than had religious heresy, especially as it proved difficult to separate what was compatible from What was incompatible with established religious doctrine. Hence, before long, confusion, hesitation, and a rapid fragmentation of ideas prevailed everywhere, even in Rome itself!' Furthermore, in the new context, in contrast to the past, none of Europe's rulers, not even the Papacy, could easily decide on, or consistently adopt, a coherent intellectual and spiritual strategy. Opinion was simply too divided for this to be feasible. Should rulers and the Churches try to suppress both the moderate Early Enlightenment and its radical offshoots by shoring up the structures of the past, or should they discard the old structures and ally with one or another strand of the moderate Enlightenment—Neo-Cartesianism as expounded by Malebranche, or Newtonianism perhaps, or the widely adopted system of the German philosopher Christian Wolff (1679-1754), to forge a new orthodoxy and a more cogent front against the radical wing? Although this or that ruler chose one or the other path, the overall result was one of collective disarray and bafflement. Historically, State and Church had worked closely together and since the mid-sixteenth century had met the challenge of confessionalizing the population with spectacular success. Whether Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, or Anglican, the people of western and central Europe had everywhere been grouped into cohesive doctrinal blocs formidably resistant to rival theologies. But once the main thrust of dissent ceased to be theological and became philosophical, there set in an inexorable slackening and loss of coordination in State–Church collaboration in the cultural, educational, and intellectual spheres.

Whatever strategies governments and Churches adopted, the European intellectual arena grew more complex, fragmented, and uncertain. Paolo Mattia Doria (1662-1746), the Genoese patrician and érudit who resided in Naples from the late 1680s, subsequently playing a key part in that city's spectacular intellectual life during the Early Enlightenment, a seasoned observer of the philosophical currents of the age,' in 1732 published a book deploring the sudden fervour for the ideas of Locke and Newton 'in Rome, in Naples, and in other parts of Italy' and the progress of English empiricism, since the late 1720s, in a land already rent from top to bottom by warring philosophies. What he terms the 'furore Lockense' served, in his view, only to escalate and convolute further what was now a five-cornered contest in which scholastic Aristotelianism, though in full retreat, still fought on tenaciously against three competing cohorts of respectable moderni—Lochisti, the Cartesiani-Malebranchisti, and the devotees of the Leibnizian-Wolffian system. The Lochisti might be gaining ground rapidly, and many clergy had joined them, but all they would accomplish, admonished Doria, would be to further split the middle ground. By contributing to the pulverization of Italy's former cultural, intellectual and spiritual cohesion, they were simply opening the door, albeit inadvertently, to the awesome fifth column, the radicals or Epicurei-Spinosisti as he terms them—who reject all authority and established ideas and despise Revelation, the Church, and Christian morality." Italy was in the grip of a gigantic and horrifying dilemma. Doria considered Locke dangerous, Cartesianism 'damaging to civil society', and Pierre Bayle of Rotterdam perniciosissimo; yet all these were innocence itself, he declares, compared with the threat to Church and society posed by the radicals." For those 'who deny God the attributes of goodness, love, intelligence and providence', the Spinosisti, not only demolish all religion but are also `destructive of civil society'.

Advocates of the mainstream moderate Enlightenment in the early eighteenth century before Voltaire simultaneously promised that the new ideas, and the sweeping away of ignorance and superstition, would confer immense benefits on mankind while warning—often no less stridently than their conservative opponents—of the terrible dangers inherent in the proliferating intellectual turmoil. Christian Thomasius (1655-1728), for example, chief herald of the Early Enlightenment in Protestant Germany and Scandinavia, did not doubt that the war on 'superstition' in which he himself was a prominent participant, and the application of new ideas in society, what he termed philosophia practica, offered humanity great advantages whether in administration, government, medicine, education, technology, or reforming the legal system." But with deep disquiet, he also acknowledged that the intellectual upheaval was stimulating a vast upsurge in incredulity and Atheisterey—like Bayle, he defines 'atheism' to mean`denial of divine Providence and reward and punishment in the hereafter. Not the least disturbing aspect of this erosion of faith, he held, was the manner in which countless false and hypercritical champions of piety, mostly, he says, ignorant bigots and obscurantists, seize the opportunity to condemn and vilify upright well-meaning philosopher (such as himself) before the public.' The honestly enlightened, striving for the improvement of society, found themselves inextricably caught up, he maintains, in a vast conflict on two fronts, battling ignorance and superstition on one side, and the Atheisten' on the other!'

The most pressing priority in the new context, it was universally acknowledged, was to overcome the growing fragmentation of ideas and, by means of solid demonstrations and convincing arguments, restore stable and enduring structures of authority, legitimacy, knowledge, and faith. But if the need was obvious, how was it to be met? Without a consensus as to the criteria of truth and legitimacy, without an agreed methodology and principles, the task was impossible. Some progress towards the common goal might be made if leading intellects were less inclined to feud with each other and more unified in their attacks on the Radical Enlightenment; but even this limited goal appeared increasingly unattainable. In Italy, the gaps between the three main enlightened moderate camps proved unbridgeable. In Germany, the often virulent struggle between the eclectic Thomasians and the more systematic Wolffians proved irresolvable.  Meanwhile, nothing caused more dismay than the ambivalence and corrosive scepticism of one of the most widely read and influential thinkers of the age, Pierre Bayle (1647-1706). Bayle, his critics complained, 'avoue, it prouve, it repète cent foil que la raison est incompatible avec la religion';" but when he infers from this that individuals must therefore be guided solely by faith and the dictates of divine Revelation, was he being serious or playing libertine games with his readership? No one seemed to know for sure. Was Bayle, who was to be the 'Patron Saint' of so many eighteenth-century thinkers including Voltaire, Diderot and d'Holbach, a sincere Christian, as he and his defenders claimed, or as his enemies insisted, an atheist, wreaking philosophico-theological havoc on all sides and duping the public.' And if Bayle was the prime enigma, there were also others, not least Locke and Vico.

Those who undertook to wrestle with the intellectual dilemmas of the age were labelled by Thomasius, using the French term philosophes. In the late seventeenth century it was a term just beginning to acquire a new and revolutionary resonance. If philosophy itself was as old as pre-classical Greece—or older—it had assuredly been marginal to the life of society since the advent of the Christian empire in late antiquity, from the time of Constantine the Great onwards. From then until around 1650, philosophy had remained the modest `serving-maid', as some called it, of theology and in an essentially ancillary relationship to the other great vocational disciplines, law and medicine. It was only with the intellectual crisis of the late seventeenth century that the old hierarchy of studies, with theology supreme, and philosophy and science her handmaidens, suddenly disintegrated. With this philosophy was released from her previous subordination and became once again an independent force potentially at odds with theology and the Churches. No longer the ancillary of others, philosophers became a new breed, formidably different from the subservient, abstract theoreticians of former times. However unsettling in a society expressly based on authority, tradition, and faith, it was henceforth—at any rate down to the dawn of the nineteenth century—the exponents of philosophy (which then included both theoretical and experimental science), as much as, and eventually even more than, the still strongly entrenched theologians and lawyers, who dominated the intellectual agenda and determined the outcome of controversies. Presenting and popularizing the new findings, concepts, and theories, the philosophes—of whom Fontenelle and Boulainvilliers were the first in France to acquire European reputations—suddenly discovered that they too could exert- a practical impact in the real world—in ideas in the first place but through ideas also on education, politics, religion, and general culture. Philosophy became not just emancipated but also powerful. This happened, as the French historian of thought Boureau-Deslandes noted in 1737, because philosophes had discovered how to influence debates about education, moral notions, the arts, economic policy, administration, and `toute la conduite de la vie'. Even in lands remote from the forefront of intellectual innovation, the power of philosophy in the new context was undeniable. When the medical revolution—based primarily on Dutch ideas—began in Spain in the 1680s, the Valencian physician Juan de Cabriada, a devotee in particular of the famous Professor Dele Boe Sylvius, at Leiden, expressly identified libertad filosofica (liberty to philosophize), and especially to study Cartesianism, and receive up-to-date information about philosophical debates from 'Germany, France and other provinces', as the prime engine of change, the instrument with which to smash down Spain's outmoded, medical culture, based on Galen, with its age-old zeal for blood-letting and purging.'

Hence Europe's war of philosophies during the Early Enlightenment down to 1750 was never confined to the intellectual sphere and was never anywhere a straightforward two-way contest between traditionalists and moderni. Rather, the rivalry between moderate mainstream and radical fringe was always as much an integral part of the drama as that between the moderate Enlightenment and conservative opposition. In this triangular battle of ideas what was ultimately at stake was what kind of belief-system should prevail in Europe's politics, social order, and institutions, as well as in high culture and, no less, in popular attitudes."

Of the two rival wings of the European Enlightenment, the moderate mainstream, supported as it was by numerous governments and influential factions in the main Churches, appeared, at least on the surface, much the more powerful tendency. Among its primary spokesmen were Newton and Locke in England, Thomasius and Wolff in Germany, the 'Newtonians' Nieuwentijt and `s-Gravesande in the Netherlands, and Feijóo and Piquer, in Spain. This`was the Enlightenment which aspired to conquer ignorance and superstition, establish toleration, and revolutionize ideas, education, and attitudes by means of philosophy but in such a way as to preserve and safeguard what were judged essential elements of the older structures, effecting a viable synthesis of old and new, and of reason and faith. Although down to 175o, in Europe as a whole, the struggle for the middle ground remained inconclusive, much of the European mainstream had, by the 1730s and 1740s, firmly espoused the ideas of Locke and Newton which indeed seemed uniquely attuned and suited to the moderate Enlightenment purpose.

By contrast, the Radical Enlightenment, whether on an atheistic or deistic basis, rejected all compromise with the past and sought to sweep away existing structures entirely, rejecting the Creation as traditionally understood in Judaeo-Christian civilization, and the intervention of a providential God in human affairs, denying the possibility of miracles, and reward and punishment in an afterlife, scorning all forms of ecclesiastical authority, and refusing to accept that there is any God-ordained social hierarchy, concentration of privilege or land-ownership in noble hands, or religious sanction for monarchy.' From its origins in the 1650s and 1660s, the philosophical radicalism of the European Early Enlightenment characteristically combined immense reverence for science, and for mathematical logic, with some form of non-providential deism, if not outright materialism and atheism along with unmistakably republican, even democratic tendencies.

Down to the 1750s the principal luminaries of the moderate Enlightenment were uninterruptedly battling on several different fronts simultaneously. Divided among themselves into three main separate factions contending for the middle ground, they were at the same time engaged in fending off traditionalists on one flank and radicals on the other. Hence it became a typical feature of intellectual conflict that moderates endeavoured to shield themselves against conservatives by stressing, even exaggerating, the gulf dividing them from the universally reviled and abhorred radicals while, simultaneously, traditionalists sought a tactical advantage, in their public discourse, by minimizing the gap separating the latter from the moderates as much as possible. A classic instance of such manoeuvring was the controversy surrounding the publication of Montesquieu's L'Esprit des Lois, a landmark of moderate Enlightenment thought, in 1748. Scarcely had it appeared than it was vociferously decried, especially by the Jesuits in France, Italy, and Austria as `Spinosiste et déiste' in inspiration, since it treats morals and laws as essentially natural, man-made contrivances bearing no relation to any God-given absolute standard.' At this point it was also retrospectively pointed out that Montesquieu's earlier work, the Lettres Persanes (1721) was similarly infused with Spinozist ideas about morality and law and that when discussing the Emperor Theodosius once again 'Spinoza est le modèle que l'auteur a voulu.'

Forced to reply, Montesquieu published a brochure at Geneva, in February 175o, maintaining (not altogether convincingly) that the accusation was self-contradictory since Spinozism, properly understood, is incompatible with deism. In any case, he insisted on his own Christian allegiance, and belief in a providential God 'comme Créateur et comme conservateur' of the universe; he had always condemned, he claimed, those who assert that the world is governed by blind fate and scrupulously differentiated in his writing the material world from 'les intelligences spirituelles'. Montesquieu's assurances that n'y a donc point de Spinosisme dans l'Esprit des Lois' were cautiously accepted by most governments, including, after a protracted controversy, the imperial court at Vienna, though the papal Inquisition at Rome, after considerable hesitation, rejected his defence arid- banned the book anyway in November 1751.

The question of Spinozism is indeed central and indispensable to any proper understanding of Early Enlightenment European thought. Its prominence in European intellectual debates of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century is generally far greater than anyone would suppose from the existing secondary literature; one of the chief aims of this present study is to demonstrate that there has been a persistent and unfortunate tendency in modern historiography to misconstrue and underestimate its significance. Admittedly, the term `Spinosisme' as used in the French Enlightenment, or Spinozisterey, as it was called in Germany, was frequently employed, as in the campaign against Montesquieu, rather broadly to denote virtually the whole of the Radical Enlightenment, that is, all deistic, Naturalistic, and atheistic systems that exclude divine Providence, Revelation, and miracles, including reward and punishment in the hereafter, rather than strict adherence to Spinoza's system as such." Yet this does not mean that it was a vague or meaningless usage. On the contrary, the extremely frequent and extensive use of the terms Spinozism and Spinosistes in Early Enlightenment discourse, not least in Bayle, who devoted the longest single article in his Dictionnaire historique et critique to the subject of Spinoza and Spinosisme, is precisely intended to connect—and with considerable justification, as we shall seeSpinoza's philosophy with a wide-ranging network of other radical thought. Thus, for example, the most voluminous eighteenth-century European encyclopaedia, Zedler's Grosses Universal Lexicon (see pp. 135, 655 below), published at Leipzig and completed in 1750, provides separate entries for 'Spinoza' and `Spinozisterey' both of which are individually considerably longer than what is said about locke'. The pattern is the same in the later French Encyclopédie edited by Diderot and d'Alembert: for all the lavish praise heaped on Locke by d'Alembert in his preliminary discourse to the Encydopédie—praise which, as we shall see, may have had a diversionary purpose—in the body of the Encyclopédic itself the coverage given to Locke is far less, scarcely one fifth, of the coverage accorded to Spinoza.

The Grosses Universal Lexicon lists the leading `Spinozists' apart from Spinoza himself as leenhof, Kuyper, Lucas, Boulainvilliers, Cuffeler, the author of Philopater, Wyermars, Koerbagh, Lau, Lahontan, Moses Germanus, Stosch and Toland'. In addition, a second list is given of those suspected of being strongly influenced by Spinoza, namely `Geulincx, Bredenburg, Bekker, Deurhoff, Burman, Wachter and [Jacob] Wittichius'. Today most of these names, aside from those of Boulainvilliers and Toland, are largely or entirely forgotten. Yet there is little justification for ignoring or marginalizing these writers since even a cursory examination of their writings shows that their views are more radical and, in some cases, more innovative than those of numerous figures who, for one reason or another, are far more familiar to those who study and discuss the Enlightenment today. For this reason, another key objective of this present study is to redress the balance somewhat in their regard too.

As employed in this present work, the term 'Crisis of the European Mind' denotes the unprecedented intellectual turmoil which commenced in the mid-seventeenth century with the rise of Cartesianism and the subsequent spread of 'mechanical philosophy' or the 'mechanistic world-view', an upheaval which heralded the onset of the Enlightenment proper in the closing years of the century.' Admittedly, new philosophical and scientific ideas such as Cartesianism cannot claim all the credit for engineering the resulting revolutionary transformation in European culture. New kinds of theological controversy often contributed both to weakening the internal cohesion of the main confessional blocs and, as has been shown in the case of the decline of belief in Hell and eternal torment for the damned, to driving some of the most characteristic changes of attitude regarding traditional beliefs during this most decisive of all periods of cultural change." Yet it was unquestionably the rise of powerful new philosophical systems, rooted in the scientific advances of the early seventeenth century and especially the mechanistic views of Galileo, which chiefly generated that vast Kulturkampf between traditional, theologically sanctioned ideas about Man, God, and the universe and secular, mechanistic conceptions which stood independently of any theological sanction. What came to be called the 'New Philosophy', which in most cases meant Cartesianism, diverged fundamentally from the essentially magical, Aristotelian, 'pre-scientific' view of the world which had everywhere prevailed hitherto and worked to supplant it, projecting a rigorous mechanism which, in the eyes of adversaries, inevitably entailed the subordination of theology and Church authority to concepts rooted in a mathematically grounded philosophical reason—albeit most 'Cartesians' of the 1650s and 1660s never intended to undermine theology's hegemony or weaken the sway of the churches to anything like the extent which rapidly resulted.'

This transitional phase, or prelude to the Early Enlightenment, arguably corresponds to the larger part of the second half of the century, down to the 1680s. In these years, the sway of theology, ecclesiastical authority, and divine-right monarchy appeared broadly still intact but was perceptibly being weakened by the onset of alarming rifts and fissures. Sporadically, especially in France and Italy, various manifestations of clandestine atheistic and deistic traditions reaching back via such authors as Bodin, Bruno, and Giulio Cesare Vanini, the alleged 'atheist' burned at the stake in Toulouse in 1619, and then through earlier Italian thinkers, notably Machiavelli and Pomponazzi, to ancient Rome and Greece, appeared, albeit usually in the veiled, camouflaged manner of the sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century libertines. This form of intellectual dissent, termed libertinisme érudit, still an appreciable force in the late seventeenth century, sought to mask, but simultaneously to disseminate, views opposed to prevailing theological and metaphysical orthodoxies by presenting opinions and quotations culled mostly from classical authors in innovative and seditious ways, paying particular attention to sceptical, irreverent, and atheistic sources such as Lucian, Epicurus, and Sextus Empiricus, and historians of philosophy such as Diogenes Laertius.

This was a potent intellectual undercurrent, especially in France and Italy, and one which played a notable role in preparing the ground for the rise of the Radical Enlightenment, especially by creating a sophisticated audience potentially receptive to its message and promoting the theory insinuated particularly by Machiavelli and Vanini, of the political origin of organized religion.' However, such erudite libertinismo was never strictly part of the phenomenon of the Radical Enlightenment itself. For the perfecting of the erudite libertine techniques was chiefly a feature of the early seventeenth century—especially the work of Gabriel Naudé (1600-53) and Francois de la Mothe Le Vayer (1588–1672)—when there was still little or no possibility of producing 0r propagating a systematic philosophy explicitly at odds with the prevailing orthodoxies. The libertine érudits, however seditious, were essentially precursors of the Radical Enlightenment operating behind a dense layer of camouflage.

From the 1650s, particularly in the relatively freer atmosphere of the Netherlands and England, the opportunity to forge an explicit and systematic philosophical radicalism existed. Nevertheless, all new streams of thought which gained any broad support in Europe between 1650 and 1750, such as the philosophies of Descartes, Malebranche, Le Clerc, Locke, Newton, Thomasius, Leibniz, or Wolff, sought to substantiate and defend the truth of revealed religion and the principle of a divinely created and ordered universe. If the great thinkers of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century uniformly reviled bigotry and 'superstition' and discarded, if not expressly rejected, belief in magic, divination, alchemy, and demonology, all except Spinoza and Bayle sought to accommodate the new advances in science and mathematics to Christian belief (if not always to that of one or other Church) and the authority of Scripture. They asserted as fundamental features of our cosmos the ceaseless working of divine Providence, the authenticity of Biblical prophecy, the reality of miracles, immortality of the soul, reward and punishment in the hereafter, and, in one way or another—sometimes highly unorthodox as with Le Clerc, Locke and Newton—Christ's mission as the Redeemer of Man.

Admittedly, fragmentation of ideas as such was not entirely a new phenomenon. For there had never been a single accepted corpus of philosophy and science, linked to theology, which was universally acknowledged and taught in the west. It is true that before 1650, as afterwards, Europe's philosophical heritage was ramified and diverse.

Nor since the Reformation had there been a single dominant theology. Instead, four competing principal Churches—the Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican—had each in its own manner secured a locally dominant position in spiritual life, education, and general culture. Each confessional bloc exhibited its own distinct theological tradition, exegetical methodology, ecclesiastical hierarchy, and network of institutions of higher learning.

Yet despite the profound disarray and distress generated by the Reformation and sporadic wars of religion, by the late sixteenth century a generally stable and imposing facade of spiritual and intellectual unity had been restored, each main confessional bloc succeeding in the territory it dominated in establishing a cultural hegemony which was both locally overwhelming and remarkably resilient. After around 1590, changes in Europe's confessional boundaries, even in the midst of the horrors of the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), became increasingly rare. Furthermore, while remaining irreconcilably antagonistic towards each other, these hegemonic Churches all successfully built, each in its own sphere, a confessional uniformity, not only within their own ranks but, in most cases (other than in the Dutch Republic and England) also in society as a whole. They were able to confine lesser Churches and fringe sects to a completely marginal status, or eliminate them altogether. Even in confessionally hybrid states such as the electorate of Brandenburg-Prussia which, in 1701, became a monarchy, there was a strong propensity before 1650 for the constituent territories t0 belong predominantly to one or another confession; thus in Brandenburg, Pomerania, and East Prussia the Lutheran and, in Cleves, Mark, and Ravensberg, the Reformed (Calvinist). Finally, all four main church blocs found they could agree, if not on questions of authority and numerous secondary points of theology, then broadly, on the core Christian doctrines to be upheld and protected.

The four principal confessions also largely agreed as to the metaphysical, logical, and scientific underpinning, namely scholastic Aristotelianism, best adapted to reinforcing and extending the sway of their ultimately convergent theologies." Hence, while scholastic Aristotelianism in the seventeenth century was by no means either entirely uniform, nor as inflexible and unwilling to debate the new mechanistic theories as is sometimes implied,' it was nevertheless, in both Catholic and Protestant lands, throughout Europe until the 1650s over philosophia recepta, the officially and ecclesiastically sanctioned philosophy prevailing in universities and academies, and dominating philosophical and scientific discourse and textbooks.5° Characteristic ingredients of this common Aristotelian legacy included the idea that all knowledge comes initially through the senses, and that the human mind—as Locke concurred later, in opposition to Descartes—is first a 'tabula rasa', and the key notion that all things are constituted of matter and form, the latter emanating from the soul or essence of things so that bodies and souls cannot be separate entities in themselves, a concept resulting in the celebrated doctrine of 'substantial forms'. This concept of innate propensities in turn shaped scientific procedure by giving priority to classifying things according to their 'qualities' and then explaining the specific responses and characteristics of individual things in terms of primary group properties. Behaviour and function consequently arise, and are determined by, the soul or essence of things rather than mechanistically. Hence there is a conceptual but no observable or measurable dividing line between the 'natural' and 'supernatural', a distinction which could only be dearly made following the rise of the mechanistic world-view.

If discrepancies, tensions, and contradictions abounded, it is nevertheless true that a broadly coherent culture took shape in most of Europe between the Reformation and the middle of the seventeenth century, favoured and supported by an elaborate apparatus of royal, ecclesiastical, and academic authority Powerful instruments of religious and intellectual censorship had been forged to deal with the problem of religi0us heresy and these could in turn be put to use to tighten the linkage between theology and approved philosophy. From the mid-sixteenth century onwards, Europe was a civilization in which formal education, public debate, preaching, printing, book-selling, even tavern disputes about religion and the world, were closely supervised and controlled. Virtually nowhere, not even in England or Holland after 1688, was full toleration the rule, and hardly anyone subscribed to the idea that the individual should be free to think and believe as he or she thought fit." Still at the end of the seventeenth century, le dogme de la tolérance', as a French correspondent urged Leibniz, in 1691, was widely considered exceedingly dangerous despite the rapidly growing support for it, indeed the worst of all errors, because it is the one which encourages acquiescence in all the others—and was perceived as being primarily promoted by Socinians and `ceux qu'on nomme Déistes et Spinosistes'."

Consequently, the cultural and intellectual system prevailing in mid-seventeenthcentury Europe, with the partial exception only of England and the United Provinces was—deep confessional divisions notwithstanding—doctrinally coherent, geared to uniformity, authoritarian, and formidably resistant to intellectual innovation and change. As such, it harmonized admirably not only with the dominant ecclesiastical and aristocratic hierarchies presiding over Church and society but also the pervasive princely absolutism of the age. Yet, astonishingly, it was precisely when the monarchical principle was most dominant, in France, Germany, Scandinavia, and Italy alike, that this common European culture, based on the primacy of confessional theology and scholastic Aristotelianism over belief, thought, education, and scholarship, first faltered, then rapidly weakened, and finally disintegrated." From the 1650s onwards, first in one land, then another, variants of the New Philosophy breached the defences of authority, tradition, and confessional theology, fragmenting the old edifice of thought at every level from court to university and from pulpit to coffee-shop.

In places, even entire countries, Cartesianism gained an imposing general preponderance which here and there lasted many decades. Yet despite its broad and vigorous impetus internationally from around 1650 down to the 1720s, there was never much likelihood that it could supplant philosophia aristotelico-scholastica as the new generally accepted consensus, welding philosophy, science, and theology coherently into a new unity receiving both official and ecclesiastical sanction. In the first place there were too many internal intellectual difficulties and tensions within Cartesianism, which, in the longer run, sapped its unity, cogency, and momentum. Secondly, there was little prospect that Europe's princely courts and Churches would uniformly espouse Descartes' system as formerly they had that of Aristotle. For leading voices within all Churches either hesitated or expressed strong opposition, some unsure whether Cartesianism was really as useful and effective a prop for the core doctrines of Christianity as Descartes and his followers claimed, others convinced that Cartesianism was, on the contrary, prejudicial to Christianity and the ecclesiastical interest. Then thirdly, Aristotelianism, though badly shaken and widely disparaged, was by no means eliminated but rather adapted and fought back, with considerable effect." Even in the United Provinces and England, where the new mechanistic ideas gained an early primacy, Aristotelianism remained an appreciable factor in the equation." Post-1650 Aristotelians in northern and southern Europe not only deplored the mechanistic systems of Descartes, Gassendi, and others as incompatible with traditional epistemology, metaphysics, and science but as a first step towards irreligion and atheism." According to Giovanni Battista Benedetti (or De Benedictis; 1620-1706), rector of the Jesuit college in Naples at the end of the seventeenth century, chief advocate of scholastic Aristotelianism in Italy, and, after the publication of his Philosophia perpatetica (1687), a formidable presence also in Spain and Portugal, the Cartesiani and Malebranchisti, for all their disclaimers, were calling divine Providence into doubt and undermining belief in the core Christian 'mysteries'."

The Cartesians failed, moreover, to maintain any real sense of unity among themselves. Rather, especially in France, they split into openly warring factions with the three leading figures—Antoine Arnauld (1632-94), Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715), and Pierre-Sylvain Régis (1632-1707)--all at each other's throats. Furthermore, Descartes' system proved unable to sway not only many clergy and academics, within all confessional camps, but also some of the most acute thinkers and scientists of the age; and while some among the latter, like the renowned Dutch physicist, Christian Huygens, kept their reservations to themselves, others, including Locke in England, Leibniz in Germany, and Vico in Naples, not only formidably criticized their great precursor but presented imposing new philosophical systems of their own which sapped confidence in Cartesianism much as Descartes had discredited Aristotelianism.

A further factor which greatly contributed to the depth and intensity of the general 'crisis of the European mind was the susceptibility of all major Churches, and many .minor ones, made brittle by internecine wrangling both theological and philosophical, to experience major new and enduring rifts within their own ranks. In effect, practically every Church itself became deeply divided, in part over matters connected with current philosophical and scientific debates, while simultaneously beset by fresh f0rms of internal theological dissension. Hence philosophy served both to complicate and intensify conflicts between rival theological factions, though in Italy and France it also frequently happened that even priest-professors belonging to the same religious 0rders took opposite sides in the struggle for and against the 'New Philosophy'. Thus 'Jansenists and anti-Jansenists (especially the Jesuits) engaged, from the 1640s onwards, in vociferous strife within the Catholic Church in France and both parts of the Netherlands, as well as less noisily in Italy, even while both sides had in addition to cope with splits between Cartesians and anti-Cartesians within their own ranks. No less acrimonious was the rivalry erupting within the Dutch Reformed Church between the liberal (Cocceian) and orthodox Calvinist (Voetian) wings, antagonism exacerbated by the tendency of the former to champion Cartesianism and the latter scholastic Aristotelianism.' Similarly, the Anglican Church in Britain and Ireland divided theologically and intellectually (as well as politically) in the late seventeenth century between the traditionalists or 'high-flyers' and the liberal 'Latitudinarian' wing which proved receptive to Newtonianism if, at first, not to Locke. Even the clergy of Spain and Portugal, hitherto rock solid in their unity and commitment to scholasticism, fell into disarray towards the close of the seventeenth century as the Aristotelians strove (unsuccessfully, on the whole) to mobilize the Inquisition against the 'innovatores' while the Cartesians and Malebranchistas pointed out that John Wycliffe and many another 'appalling heretic' had wallowed in Aristotle." Intellectually, the Iberian Peninsula may have struck other Europeans as remote and backward. Juan de Cabriada warned his compatriots in 1686 that due to their insufficient awareness of current Philosophical and scientific developments elsewhere, they were disdained in other European lands like the 'Indians of America'. 64 Yet for all that, by the 1680s Spain too was becoming deeply fragmented by the New Philosophy and, despite the time lag, the bitter struggles over philosophy and science that erupted there in the early eighteenth century were in essence not greatly different from those convulsing the rest of Europe.

The concept of a 'crisis of the European mind' in the late seventeenth century as a transitional phase sandwiched between the confessional era and the Enlightenment was introduced into modern historiography by the Belgian historian of thought Paul Hazard (1878-1944) in his seminal work La Crise de la conscience européenne discern in Frazer is a figure fully representative of the modern age, intent upon understanding everything in terms of the dominant fad of our culture: scientific progress. For Frazer, magic and religion are primitive (and mistaken) attempts at scientific thought, and they become redundant as the forward march of historical progress brings about scientific liberation from ignorance. Wittgenstein rejects both the view that magic is (as Frazer called it) "the bastard sister of science" and the contention of The Golden Bough that history presents us with the story of the social and intellectual progressive improvement of humanity. And the great influence lying behind Wittgenstein's rejection of the progressive view of history was Oswald Spe Foucault does not nullify the subject; he presents an incoherent, i.e., an inconsistent theory of agency, but an incoherent theory of agency is no theory at all. In the later volumes of the History of Sexuality, Foucault shows us (male) agents in antiquity who are quite a bit freer than his modern subjects: they seek and sometimes achieve balance, moderation, and self-determination in the design of their sexuality. Since the late Foucault puts forward a conventional notion of agency, and the earlier Foucault an incoherent, hence self-nullifying theory of agency, agency is safe, at least for now from at least this poststructuralist. I close the chapter with an attempt to diagnose the inconsistencies in Foucault's treatment of the sexual subject: these I trace tovk vk y L #LrL #LrL #Lr E @EB: _K7΀U+PCtes. By the 1750s, all major intellectual innovations and accomplishments of the European Enlightenment were well advanced if not largely complete.

The 'crisis of the European mind' was a collective, but also a deeply unsettling and traumatic individual experience, not least for the scientists themselves, of whom Blaise Pascal (1623-62) was probably the most eloquent in expressing the mental and emotional agonies such profound soul-searching could involve. Pascal painstakingly rescues and reaffirms his Christian faith by dividing reality into totally separate compartments. As for Descartes, Pascal maintains in his posthumously published Pensées (1670) that he finds his offence unforgivable: for instead of by-passing the whole question of God, as he ought to have done, he has Him merely press a button `pour mettre le monde en mouvement; après cela, it n'a plus que faire de Dieu'." Another eminent scientist of the period, the Danish anatomist and geologist Nicholas Steno (1638-87), with no less passion than Pascal, eventually concluded that faith and science cannot be easily or satisfactorily reconciled and abandoned the latter completely to champion the former. Lorenzo Magalotti (1636-1712), secretary of the first of the European scientific academies of the later seventeenth century, in Florence, and a man in touch with all the latest scientific developments internationally, was no less tormented. Duringhis years in Vienna (1674-8) he lapsed into a deep and irreversible personal intellectual crisis, even admitting, in January 1676, to his morbidly devout sovereign, Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, that despite every effort to keep up his Catholic allegiance, deep down the new ideas had stifled his faith," an admission almost certainly connected with his falling into disgrace at the Tuscan court on his return there in 1678.

The European crisis had far-reaching intellectual and religious and also, at least potentially, political implications. Hazard has been criticized for giving insufficient emphasis to the political aspects of the `crisis', that is the reaction against divine-right monarchy and absolutist ideology and the onset of republican political theories linked expressly, or tacitly, to radical philosophy. It has also been suggested that Hazard failed t0 grasp the extent to which the intellectual legacy of the English Revolution of the 1640s, and especially the social and religious ideas of the Levellers and Diggers with their democratic, and sometimes communistic, inclinations, may have served not just as a source of radical ideas for the Radical Enlightenment as a whole, but conceivably, even constituted the ideological driving force of the entire European phenomenon, especially its political and social radicalism.'

Although it cannot be said that its political thought was one of its most prominent or developed features, undeniably the Radical Enlightenment was republican, did reject divine-right monarchy, and did evince anti-aristocratic and democratic tendencies. Democratic republicanism was a particularly marked feature of the writings of the Dutch, English, and Italian radicals though it is also encountered, albeit much more faintly, in French and German contexts. However, there is little of a concrete nature to suggest that the continental Radical Enlightenment did in fact principally derive from English influence and example. On the whole, it seems more likely that the phenomenon derives from a broader, international context. After all, there were other quasi-revolutionary upheavals in mid-seventeenth-century Europe, notably the Frondes and the Massaniello rising (and the brief establishment of a republic) in Naples in 1647-8, which made a scarcely less profound impression on the European consciousness in general and radical minds in particular than the revolutionary upheaval in England. Then, judging by the intense interest it aroused, one might well insist that the Glorious Revolution of 1688-91 was actually more important as a political exemplum to the radical minds of the early Enlightenment than anything that happened earlier, and this was not in essence a national achievement of the English—nor was it then regarded as such—but essentially a consequence of Dutch raison d'état and a large-scale invasion from the continent." Furthermore, it seems that in Britain itself the social libertarianism of the mid-seventeenth century faded away in the late seventeenth century and did not reappear until the end of the eighteenth."

Finally, while it is clear that a highly developed republican tradition of political thought evolved in England from the 1650s onwards, and its characteristics have been studied in great detail by scholars, it is far from evident that this corpus of ideas was the prime inspiration for the radical republican tradition with which we are concerned in this present study. What has been termed the Anglicization of the republic' produced certain specific features—an emphasis on land as the basis of political influence and an orientation towards the outlook and needs of the English gentry—which render this corpus of thought appreciably different from the alternative republican tradition, essentially urban and commercial, originating in the work of such writers as Johan and Pieter de la Court, and Spinoza's Latin master, Franciscus van den Enden, with its uncompromising anti-monarchism and egalitarian tendency, a tradition which sprang up on the continent and leads in direct line of descent to the revolutionary rhetoric of Robespierre and the French Jacobins.

In any case, focusing on national contexts is assuredly the wrong approach t0 an essentially European phenomenon such as the Radical Enlightenment. The movement or current was an international network bent on far-reaching reform philosophically, socially, ethically, in matters of gender and sexuality, and also politically, drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources and traditions, albeit from the 1660s onwards it evinced a high degree of intellectual cohesion, revolving in particular around Spinoza and Spinozism. Given the range of its sources and its widespread impact, as well as an immense anti-radical reaction extending to every corner of Europe, the most essential prerequisite for a balanced view of its origins, development, structure, and reception is to adopt a very broad European view. However difficult it may be to achieve a balanced coverage across a region as culturally diverse as Europe, it is essential to work in that direction if so crucial a manifestation of European history and culture is not to be largely overlooked and marginalized simply because it is too far-ranging and pervasive to be coped with in terms of traditional notions of 'national' history.

Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man 1670-1752  [paperback] by Jonathan I. Israel (Oxford University Press) [hardcover] he first major reassessment of the Western Enlightenment for a generation. Continuing the story he began in Radical Enlightenment, Jonathan Israel now focuses on the first half of the eighteenth century. He traces to their roots the core principles of Western modernity: the primacy of reason, democracy, racial equality, feminism, religious toleration, sexual emancipation, and freedom of expression.


Was the Enlightenment in essence a social or an intellectual phenomenon? The answer, arguably, is that it was both and that physical reality and the life of the mind must be seen to be genuinely interacting in a kind of dialectic, a two-way street, if we are to achieve a proper and balanced approach to this fundamental topic. Does it really matter how we interpret the Enlightenment? Surely, it does. For while it has been fashionable in recent years, above all (but not only) in the Postmodernist camp, to disdain the Enlightenment as biased, facile, self-deluded, over-optimistic, Eurocentric, imperialistic, and ultimately destructive,' there are sound, even rather urgent, reasons for rejecting such notions as profoundly misconceived and insisting, on the contrary, that the Enlightenment has been and remains by far the most positive factor shaping contemporary reality and those strands of 'modernity' anyone wishing to live in accord with reason would want to support and contribute to.

It is consequently of some concern that we almost entirely lack comprehensive, general accounts of the Enlightenment which try to present the overall picture on a European and transatlantic scale; and also that there still remains great uncertainty, doubt, and lack of clarity about what exactly the Enlightenment was and what intellectually and socially it actually involved. For much of the time, in the current debate, both the friends and foes of the Enlightenment are arguing about a historical phenomenon which in recent decades continues to be very inadequately understood and described. In fact, since Peter Gay's ambitious two-part general survey The Enlightenment: An Interpretation, published in 1966, there have been hardly any serious attempts, as Gay puts it, to 'offer a comprehensive interpretation of the Enlightenment. Especially disturbing is that it remains almost impossible to find a reasonably detailed general account of the crucially formative pre-1750 period and that there is nowadays among general historians of the eighteenth century, as distinct from philosophers and specialists in political thought, rarely much discussion of the Enlightenment's intellectual content as opposed to the—according to most current historiography—supposedly more important social and material factors.

The purpose of this present account is to attempt to provide a usable outline survey and work of reference, enabling the general reader, as well as the student and professional scholar, to get more of a grip on what the ideas of the Enlightenment actually were, and one which at the same time denies that the social, cultural, and material factors are of greater concern to historians than the intellectual impulses but does so without simply reversing this and claiming ideas were, therefore, more crucial than the social process. Rather, my aim is to strive for a genuine balance, showing how ideas and socio-political context interact while yet approaching this interplay of the physical and intellectual from the intellectual side, that is running against the nowadays usual and generally received preference. The reason for this contrary emphasis is that the intellectual dimension, it seems to me, is by far the less well-understood side of the equation and hence at present much more in need of reassessment than the social and cultural aspects.

One of the most controversial questions about the Enlightenment in recent years has been that concerning its precise relationship to the making of revolutions, a question closely tied, in turn, to that concerning its relationship to 'modernity' more generally. Odd though this may appear today, it was often claimed, from the late seventeenth to the mid nineteenth century, in books, pamphlets, sermons, and newspapers, that 'philosophy' had caused, and was still causing, a 'universal revolution' in the affairs of men. After 1789, it was usual to link this notion to the French Revolution in particular and view that vast upheaval as the 'realization of philosophy. But there was nothing new about bracketing 'philosophy' with modern `revolution' in the early nineteenth century, or indeed earlier, and it is vital to bear in mind that in the decades before and after 1789 there were all kinds of other 'revolutions' beside that in France—not all violent and not all political, but all very closely associated with the unprecedented, and to many deeply perplexing, impact of philosophers and philosophy.

For some time after 1789, the French Revolution and its offshoot upheavals across the European continent and in the Americas, including by the 1820s the major revolutions in Greece and Spanish America, were usually thought of as essentially parts of a much larger and more 'universal' revolution generated by 'philosophy' or, to be more exact, what in the previous century had come to be known as l'esprit philosophique or sometimes philosophisme. For l'esprit philosophique, as a French revolutionary statesman interested in this question, Jean-Etienne-Marie Portalis, pointed out in 1798, was actually something very different from philosophy in general. For most philosophers, including those embracing a strict empiricism and confining themselves to what could be deduced from 'l'observation et l'expérience, as well as those adhering to the German idealist systems, had long sought to curtail philosophy's scope and reconcile reason with religious belief. L'esprit philosophique, by contrast, while also a résultat des sciences comparées', was defined precisely by its refusal to limit philosophy's scope to specified parts of reality, its sweeping aspiration to embrace and redefine the whole of our reality: revolutionary `esprit philosophique', in other words, claimed, as Portalis puts it, to be 'applicable a tout'. Above all, as against other sorts of philosophy, philosophisme was 'tine sorte d' esprit universel'

Post-1789 attribution of the 'revolution' to l'esprit philosophique was frequent but in essence no different from the many examples of pre-1789 complaints about dangerous new forms of thought infiltrating religion, social theory, and politics in such a way as to threaten the basic structures of authority, tradition, faith, and privilege on which ancien regime society rested. Modern historians and students, of course, are apt to dismiss this sort of thing as a figment of the collective imagination of the time, an illusion powerfully fed by ideological obsessions and bias which only very vaguely corresponds to the historical reality. In recent decades, it has been deeply and more and more unfashionable among historians, in both Europe and America, to explain the French Revolution, the greatest event on the threshold of 'modernity, as a consequence of ideas. Marxist dogma with its stress on economic reality and cultural superstructure helped generate this near universal conviction. But another major justification for this in some ways distinctly peculiar article of the modern historian's creed is the growing democratization of history itself: students especially, but professors too, readily take to the argument that most people, then as now, do things for exclusively 'practical' reasons and have no interest in matters intellectual. Any attempt to stress the impact of the philosopher is nowadays routinely objected to on the ground that the vast majority knew next to nothing about them or their books and cared even less.

This, of course, is perfectly true. But there is an important sense in which this fashionable objection misses the point. For those who inveighed most obsessively against new ideas before and after 1789 also insisted that most people then, as now, neither knew nor cared anything about 'philosophy. Yet practically all late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century commentators were convinced, and with some reason, that while most failed to see how philosophy impinged on their lives, and altered the circumstances of their time, they had all the same been ruinously led astray by 'philosophy'; it was philosophers who were chiefly responsible for propagating the concepts of toleration, equality, democracy, republicanism, individual freedom, and liberty of expression and the press, the batch of ideas identified as the principal cause of the near overthrow of authority, tradition, monarchy, faith, and privilege. Hence, philosophers specifically had caused the revolution.

Throne, altar, aristocracy, and imperial sway, according to spokesmen of the Counter-Enlightenment, had been brought to the verge of extinction by ideas which most people know absolutely nothing about. Most of those who had supported what conservative and middle-of-the road observers considered corrosive and pernicious democratic concepts had allegedly done so unwittingly, or without fully grasping the real nature of the ideas on which the ringing slogans and political rhetoric of the age rested. Yet if very few grasped or engaged intellectually with the core ideas in question this did not alter the fact that fundamentally new ideas had shaped, nurtured, and propagated the newly insurgent popular rhetoric used in speeches and newspapers to arouse the people against tradition and authority. Indeed, it seemed obvious that it was 'philosophy' which had generated the revolutionary slogans, maxims, and ideologies of the pamphleteers, journalists, demagogues, elected deputies, and malcontent army officers who, in the American, French, Dutch, and Italian revolutions of the 1770s, 1780s, and 1790s, as well as the other revolutions which followed proclaimed and justified a fundamental break with the past.

The kind of 'philosophy' they had in mind, like its social and political impact, was plainly something fundamentally new. What was not at all new was the turmoil, violence, and fanaticism accompanying the revolutionary process. For if the common people were perfectly capable of causing all sorts of agitation, instability, and disruption without any help from philosophers, the conceptual overthrow of altar, throne, and nobility was considered, surely rightly, something previously wholly unimagined and inconceivable which, consequently, had little inherently to do with economic need, social pressures, or the allegedly innate unruliness of the plebs. Rather, such upheaval could only stem from a revolutionary transformation in the people's way of thinking.

Not only was the foundational role of 'philosophy' heavily stressed by contemporaries in the early nineteenth century, but there was also a clear grasp of the later obscured, yet perhaps rather obvious, fact that it makes little sense to seek the causes of the 'revolution' in the decades immediately preceding 1789; for a great revolution in thought and culture takes time. One must look back to the century before 1750 to locate the intellectual origins and early development of what transpired in the revolutionary era. It was not popular grievances, economic causes, obsolete institutions, lack of liberty, or any material factor, according to Antonio Valsecchi, in a book posthumously published in Venice in 1816, but specifically spirito filosofico which in Italy, as in France and the rest of Europe, had virtually destroyed 'society, commerce, discipline, faith, and throne, a revolution of the mind culminating in Voltaire and Rousseau certainly but whose real origins lay further back, in the seventeenth century. The true originators of the French Revolution, he says, were not Rousseau or Voltaire but `Tommaso Hobbes d'Ingilterra, e Benedetto Spinosa di Olanda, truly world-shaking and subversive philosophers whose deadly work of corrosion had been continued, again in Holland, by the no less subversive `Pietro Bayle'.

Yet this interpretation of the revolutionary upheavals of the late eighteenth century in essence scarcely differed from that of another Italian professor, Tommaso Vincenzo Moniglia (1686-1787), at Pisa, who over seventy years earlier, in 1744, warned the Italian reading public that recent intellectual trends in France, inspired by the English 'Deists' Anthony Collins and John Toland, using ideas introduced by Spinoza, were producing a new and dangerous kind of philosophy, one which overturns all existing principles, institutions, codes of custom, and royal decrees. Their ideas, he argued, entail a 'total revolution in ideas, language, and the affairs of the world, leading to a drastically changed society in which Spinosismo, or as another Italian writer of the period, Daniele Concina, put it, 'questa mostruosa divinita Spinosiana' [this monstrous Spinozist divinity], would reign supreme, meaning that in place of faith, hierarchy, and kingship everything would henceforth be based on physical reality alone and 'on the interests and passions of individuals'.

Moniglia's and Concina's admonitions about Spinosismo and 'universal revolution' in the mid eighteenth century, in turn, differed little in substance from other warnings issued still earlier. At the beginning of the century, the Anglo-Irish High Church divine William Carroll, in the second part of his pamphlet Spinoza Reviv'd (London, 1711), maintained that philosophy based on what he calls 'Spinoza-principles, meaning militant Deism based on one-substance philosophy, 'fundamentally subverts all natural and reveal'd religion, [and] overthrows our constitution both in church and state'. The earliest avowals along these lines indeed reach back to the late seventeenth century. In 1693, for example, a prominent German court official of wide experience, the Freiherr Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff (1626-92), thought it quite wrong to suppose, as many theologians did, that 'atheistic' philosophy of the kind propagated by Spinoza undermines only religion and theology; for by making life in this world, and individual expectations, the basis of politics Spinozism equally threatened to liquidate all royalty, and their courts and courtiers, as well. In 1681, similarly, the French Calvinist Pierre Yvon (1646-1707) avowed that Spinoza not only destroys theology philosophically, reducing morality to a mere calculus of individual advantage, but that his political theory authorizes everyone to instigate political rebellion.

Across Europe, the radical-minded, as well as many religious thinkers, were quick to grasp that a fundamental revolution of the mind must eventually translate also into political revolution. The threat to the political, religious, and social status quo posed by 'Spinoza-principles' was colourfully alluded to by the anonymous author of the tract Rencontre de Bayle et de Spinosa dans l'autre monde, published in 1711 in Holland—though with 'Cologne' declared on the title page—a work designed to tighten the reading public's association of Bayle with Spinoza by implying these two great thinkers shared not just parallels in their lives, both being refugees from Catholic, monarchical intolerance in quest of individual freedom of thought, but also common philosophical aims. In the imaginary dialogue between the two, set in the next world, `Bayle' assures 'Spinosa' that while some approved the latter's self-portrayal (in his sketch-book, found after his death) in the fisherman's garb of the notorious seventeenth-century insurgent Masaniello—a symbol in Spinoza's day of popular revolt against monarchical oppression—his enemies feared this might imply that 'what Masaniello had brought about in fifteen days [i.e. a democratic revolution], in Naples, you would likewise accomplish in a short time, in the whole of Christendom'.

Later Counter-Enlightenment accusations associating philosophy and the philosopher with revolution, then, once stripped of ideological bias, possess a considerable degree of cogency and deserve more attention from scholars than they have hitherto received. For the trends towards secularization, toleration, equality, democracy, individual freedom, and liberty of expression in western Europe and America between 1650 and 1750 were arguably powerfully impelled by 'philosophy' and its successful propagation in the political and social sphere; and just as the Counter-Enlightenment affirmed, in the end such ideas were bound to precipitate a European and American revolutionary process, of a type never before witnessed. If, moreover, in recent decades most historians of both Enlightenment and the French Revolution have repudiated interpretations emphasizing the role of ideas, claiming the revolutionary movements were primarily social and cultural phenomena best understood by focusing on social relations and material factors, there remain formidable unresolved difficulties with this conception. For the results produced by recent social historical research hardly seem to justify the continuing emphasis on a primarily 'social' approach. No one has been able to specify what the allegedly profound social changes which lay behind the Enlightenment and Revolution actually were or even how shifts in social structure, given their reality, could broadly and spontaneously translate into a popularly driven 'universal revolution' designed to transform the core principles upon which society and politics rest.

In any case, a reverse shift of emphasis back to the study of ideas in their historical setting may produce useful results for the history of Enlightenment, modern revolutions, and the history of western 'modernity' itself. Recent claims about social structure, material factors, and the people's unawareness of new ideas notwithstanding, it remains fundamentally implausible that the 'modern' core concepts of equality, democracy, and individual freedom sprang directly out of a process of social change or cultural adjustment, or became central to 'modern' society and politics, or could enter the public sphere at all, without being forged, defined, and revised through a process of intellectual debate. And even if some readers remain convinced that socially and culturally driven changes, not ideas, must be the primary factors in the historical process, the intellectual side of the history of modern revolution still remains one of immense drama, complexity, and interest which needs to be surveyed in a more comprehensive fashion than it has been.

In my earlier book, Radical Enlightenment, a start was made to describing how philosophical debates in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries generated the radical edge of the western Enlightenment. Here, my aim is to offer a much wider and more general reassessment of the Enlightenment as it developed down to the early part of the battle over the Encyclopédie (1751-2), giving particular emphasis to the Enlightenment's essential duality, that is the internal struggle between the opposing tendencies which from beginning to end always fundamentally divided it into irreconcilably opposed intellectual blocs. In doing so, I shall try to demonstrate how, historically and philosophically, the main line in the development of modern `enlightened' values transferred from the earlier centre in the Dutch Republic to other parts of Europe by the mid eighteenth century and especially France, which, from the 1720s onwards, increasingly presided intellectually and culturally over the emergence and development of radical, democratic, and egalitarian ideas.

Besides seeking to show how ideas of equality, toleration, democracy, and individual freedom came to challenge monarchy, aristocracy, authority, and tradition, this study also deals with the intellectual beginnings of anti-colonialism and the radical critique of European imperial sway over non-European peoples. Additional themes are the Enlightenment's always dual and divided quest to engage with the non-European 'other, and specifically classical Chinese culture and the world of Islam, together with other ramifications of the late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century revolution in scholarship and ideals of learning.

Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights, 1750-1790 [Hardcover] by Jonathan I. Israel (Oxford University Press) That the Enlightenment shaped modernity is uncontested. Yet remarkably few historians or philosophers have attempted to trace the process of ideas from the political and social turmoil of the late eighteenth century to the present day. This is precisely what Jonathan Israel now does.

In Democratic Enlightenment, Israel demonstrates that the Enlightenment was an essentially revolutionary process, driven by philosophical debate. The American Revolution and its concerns certainly acted as a major factor in the intellectual ferment that shaped the wider upheaval that followed, but the radical philosophes were no less critical than enthusiastic about the American model. From 1789, the General Revolution's impetus came from a small group of philosophe-revolutionnaires, men such as Mirabeau, Sieyes, Condorcet, Volney, Roederer, and Brissot. Not aligned to any of the social groups represented in the French National assembly, they nonetheless forged "la philosophie moderne"--in effect Radical Enlightenment ideas--into a world-transforming ideology that had a lasting impact in Latin America, Canada and eastern Europe as well as France, Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries. In addition, Israel argues that while all French revolutionary journals powerfully affirmed that la philosophie moderne was the main cause of the French Revolution, the main stream of historical thought has failed to grasp what this implies. Israel sets the record straight, demonstrating the true nature of the engine that drove the Revolution, and the intimate links between the radical wing of the Enlightenment and the anti-Robespierriste "Revolution of reason."

Excerpt: In recent decades the other major historical transitions towards modernity—the Renaissance and Reformation, and also the British Industrial Revolution—have receded somewhat from the commanding centrality they used to enjoy in the world of historical studies. Both the Renaissance and the Protestant–Catholic split have recently tended to lose something of their earlier importance in our society. The effect of this together with the growing clash between theological perspectives and secularism and the increasingly fraught question of universal human rights has been to push the Enlightenment increasingly to the fore as the single most important topic, internationally, in modern historical studies, and one of crucial significance also in our politics, cultural studies, and philosophy.

Meanwhile, a growing tendency, from the 1970s onwards, to contest the validity of the 'Enlightenment's' ideals and see its laying the intellectual foundations of modernity in a negative rather than a positive light has, at the same time, caused an escalating 'crisis of the Enlightenment' in historical and philosophical studies.' In particular, Postmodernist thinkers have argued that its abstract universalism was ultimately destructive, that the relentless rationalism, concern with perfecting humanity, and universalism of what they often disparagingly called 'the Enlightenment project' was responsible for the organized mass violence of the later French Revolution and the still greater horrors perpetrated by imperialism, Communism, Fascism, and Nazism in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Many argued that the assumption that humanity is 'infinitely malleable, as James Schmidt put it, 'provided the intellectual inspiration for attempts by totalitarian states to eradicate every trace of individuality from their subjects '2 Others insisted that the Enlightenment reduced complex moral dilemmas to a superficial level using simplistic solutions to iron out long-existing and deeply felt community differences and values. This multi-faceted indictment was lent added philosophical coherence by Michel Foucault's overarching and powerful claim that the Enlightenment's insistence on the primacy of reason was ultimately just a mask for the exercise of power. He maintained, often very convincingly, that Enlightenment was not just about liberation but even more about new forms of constraint. Postmodernist theorists urge us to forget the Enlightenment's quest for universal moral and political foundations, claiming different cultures should be left 'to determine their own priorities and goals without our discriminating politically or morally between them'. In this way a new 'project' arose, replacing the intellectual foundations forged by the Enlightenment with a fresh set of criteria framing a postmodern world built on multiculturalism, moral relativism, and the indeterminacy of truth.

Given the overriding importance and vast scope of this global cultural-philosophical clash today any scholar discussing Enlightenment in broad terms has a clear responsibility to render as accurate, carefully delineated, and complete a picture of the phenomenon as possible. Except for those willing to yield to Postmodernism and concede the death of reason and moral universalism, it remains an ongoing, live, and vital issue. Moreover, even many of the Enlightenment's contemporary defenders appear to agree that this great movement in global thought, interpretation, and reform 'was flawed and one-sided. But was it? Before we can answer we need scholarship to explore the issue thoroughly, and it is an astounding fact that many aspects of this great movement still remain remarkably little known.

In view of this, and since this present study has now grown into a trilogy of volumes and become too large for readers easily to obtain an overview of, it seems essential to begin here by providing a clear and concise resume of the overall argument, to enable readers to grasp clearly what is being argued and how this volume connects with the previous two in the series. This is all the more essential in that numerous determined and sometimes sharply expressed critiques questioning my general interpretation of the Enlightenment have appeared in recent years, notably by Theo Verbeek, Paolo Casini, Margaret Jacob, Henry Chiswick, Antony La Vopa, Wiep van Bunge, Antoine Lilti, Sam Moyn, Dan Edelstein, and on one crucial point also Siep Stuurman—the latter insisting that there is no 'necessary connection' between one-substance metaphysics and Radical Enlightenment political and social reformism, a contention in which he as well as the others are most certainly mistaken—debunking efforts which raise important and relevant questions and objections that need answering, certainly,but also include much that amounts little more than failure to grasp the argument and inaccuracy in reporting what is actually being argued.

[The closely argued thirty-nine-page critique (Annales, 64 (2009), 171-206) by Antoine Lilti is the most cogent and effective of these critiques so far despite the striking contradiction in his robustly defending the socio-cultural approach of Darnton, Chartier, and Roche against my criticism after having conclusively demonstrated in his main work, Le Monde des salons (2005), that their socio-cultural approach to the Enlightenment vastly overestimates the role of new eighteenth-century social spaces and practices, such as the salons, in generating Enlightenment ideas and is totally invalid as a method of explaining the Enlightenment phenomenon. His critique is entitled 'Comment écrit-on l'histoire intellectuelle des Lumières? Spinozisme, radicalisme et philosophie'. My reply is forthcoming in the journal La Lettre clandestine (Annales having refused to publish a response of matching length to Lilti's detailed argument). Stuurman's claim that 'there is no necessary linkage between metaphysics and politics, expounded in his article 'Pathways' and elsewhere, is repeated in his published lecture 'Global Equality and Inequality in Enlightenment Thought, 1, 28, 31-2.]

The Enlightenment, I maintain, was the most important and profound intellectual, social, and cultural transformation of the Western world since the Middle Ages  and the most formative in shaping modernity. It must be understood both as an intellectual movement and as mainstream socio-economic and political history—for historiography a distinctly unfamiliar combination. It evolved on both sides of the Atlantic and began in the second half of the seventeenth century. The product of a particular era, it has profoundly affected every aspect of modernity. What was the Enlightenment? Historians have found it notoriously difficult to provide a fully adequate definition. Many definitions have been suggested and used which are correct and relevant up to a point and capture much of what historians and philosophers identify as the Enlightenment, but none seems altogether satisfactory. Peter Gay was right to claim that the 'men of the Enlightenment united on a vastly ambitious programme, a programme of secularism, humanity, cosmopolitanism, and freedom, above all, freedom in its many forms—freedom from arbitrary power, freedom of speech, freedom of trade, freedom to realize one's talents, freedom of aesthetic response, freedom, in a word, of moral man to make his own way in the world'. Only his definition seriously overstates the secularism of the mainstream Enlightenment and the strength of the commitment of many enlighteners to free speech, free trade, and personal freedom. It is also largely valid to say that the Enlightenment 'began not as a definite "thing" or even as a chronological period, but as processes concerned with the central place of reason and of experience and experiment in understanding and improving human society'. What distinguished the Enlightenment's particular emphasis on reason was indeed a belief that applying reason tempered by experiment and experience, not anything based on blind authority, would bring vast social benefits. It can also be justly defined as an era that pursued with greater consistency than any other the notion that things ought to be justified rather than 'blindly accepted from habit and custom'.

But while true as far as they go such definitions crucially miss the social historical dimension: they fail to give a sense of the Enlightenment being a response to the dilemmas of a society standing at the confluence of the static, the traditional norms, with the rapid changes, fluidity, and pluralism so typical of modernity, or a sense of the ideologically and politically embattled status of the Enlightenment, its being besieged by powerful forces from without while also being continually ravaged by disputes within. Like both the Renaissance and Reformation, in the Enlightenment intellectual and doctrinal changes came first but impacted on—and responded to—social, cultural, economic, and political context so profoundly that they changed everything. But unlike the Renaissance which revolved around the rediscovery of the texts of classical antiquity, or the Reformation which pivoted on a revolt against Catholic doctrine and ecclesiastical authority and forged several Protestant confessions, with the Enlightenment it has proven difficult even to agree as to which intellectual tendencies should chiefly be stressed. Even the notion that the Enlightenment placed a new and particular stress on 'reason' can be easily questioned by citing the examples of Hume and Burke, two of the Enlightenment's greatest thinkers. Given the notorious difficulty of providing a complete definition it is unlikely that there will be general agreement regarding the definition employed here. But it is important to begin by clearly formulating the definition used in these volumes and briefly explaining why this definition of the Enlightenment seems more adequate than other characterizations.

In defining the Enlightenment, we must bear in mind two particular difficulties hindering a satisfactory, historically accurate characterization: first, it is undoubtedly true that as a general cultural phenomenon the Anglo-American Enlightenment placed much less emphasis on the role of reason and philosophy as the agent of change than was the case in France, Italy, and Germany; secondly, it is necessary to remember that the very term 'Enlightenment' we use today and its French equivalent Lumières, or Spanish Ilustración, are to a large extent later nineteenth- and twentieth-century constructions—though the German Aufklärung was more widely used in the late eighteenth century; the term 'Enlightenment' therefore carries an ideological baggage and resonances often superimposed later and not part of the original phenomenon. Hence, a fully adequate historical and philosophical definition does not necessarily have to accommodate some of the things academics, politicians, social theorists, and others writing today mean by the term 'Enlightenment. Especially alien to the eighteenth-century concept—and sometimes pernicious in our contemporary usage—is the today widespread assumption in some quarters that we in the Western world are 'enlightened' and need to defend and preserve a supposedly shared body of values.

Furthermore, a habit has developed in recent decades in historical studies of focusing much attention in Enlightenment studies on questions of sociability, mon-danité, cultural spaces. The study of sociability and social practices is often interesting and important but has little directly to do with what contemporaries meant when they accounted innovations, recommendations, or changes 'enlightened, éclairé, or aufgeklärt, terms incessantly used at the time. No significant Enlightenment figure had sociability or social practices in mind when designating as 'enlightened, or the fruit of 'enlightened' attitudes, the great shifts, cultural, scientific, social, and political, they saw occurring, or as having recently occurred or as needing to occur. Therefore little attention is paid here to this aspect of eighteenth-century history and it is neither necessary nor advisable to find room for the cultural history of sociability and social practices in defining the Enlightenment. If the Parisian salons, for example, were an extremely important social space, their contribution to the Enlightenment as such was practically zero except as a (very) marginal conduit of dissemination.9 Sociability, in short, is just a gigantic red herring. But this most certainly does not mean that Enlightenment was a purely intellectual movement. There was a great deal of social grievance and legal archaism in the eighteenth century, and the Enlightenment precisely by establishing new principles, understood intellectually, set up a powerful process of social and political innovation, reformism, and change which profoundly affected the whole of society. The Enlightenment is not a story of ideas but a story of the interaction of ideas and social reality.

John Robertson begins his important 2005 study by characterizing the Enlightenment as a shift commencing in the 1740s involving 'a new focus on betterment in this world, without regard for the existence or non-existence of the next. The main intellectual effort, he argued, was 'concentrated on understanding the means of progress in human society, not on demolishing belief in a divine counterpart'. His emphasis on there having been a core of original thinking to the Enlightenment `that was not simply a matter of common aspirations and values' and within which `the understanding of human betterment was pursued across a number of independent lines of enquiry' is in many ways excellent and, like earlier definitions, captures much of what is needed. Any workable definition of Enlightenment must focus on betterment in this world and get away from social practice and common values to stress especially new principles, concepts, and constitutional arrangements being introduced that are conceived to be transforming society for the better. But Robertson's characterization still has four considerable limitations. Both advocates and (the many) opponents of the Enlightenment typically saw the process as beginning in the mid and late seventeenth century so that the 1740s is simply too late a starting point; Robertson's formula insufficiently stresses the tendency to see human amelioration as something arising from a general transformation in men's thinking, attitudes, and ideas and by challenging accepted values, rather than stemming from other arguably useful forces for change such as economic processes, social practices, inherent national characteristics real or alleged, imperial expansion, religious revelations, rediscovering ancient texts or ancient constitutions; thirdly, it fails to capture the general consensus that what was needed and happening (or about to happen) was a giant leap forward, a vast revolutionary change, that the difference between enlightened attitudes and society and unenlightened attitudes and society is like light and darkness. At one point, Robertson criticizes Darnton for postulating too close a link between Enlightenment and the French and American revolutions; but here, arguably, Darnton was entirely correct. Finally, missing here is any reference to the profoundly typical quest for universal solutions and recipes. Universalism was one of the quintessential characteristics of the Enlightenment.

Admittedly, other recent definitions have put more stress on pluralism and the national perspective within the Enlightenment than either Robertson or myself. But the concept of distinct 'national' enlightenments seems to me altogether invalid first because in most countries, including Russia, Scandinavia, the Austrian empire, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and post-1720 Netherlands, the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Spanish America, the primary intellectual influences were predominantly foreign—mostly French, British, or German, though before 1720 the Dutch factor was also crucial. Secondly, while there was never any basic unity to the local enlightenment in any given country, including Britain, America, and France where the Enlightenment was always divided between competing factions drawing inspiration from different sources both national and international, the rifts were characterized less by plurality than duality. Nowhere did these divisions point to a high level of fragmentation. Pocock holds that in studying the intellectual history of the late seventeenth and eighteenth century we encounter positions and lines of thought 'to which the term "Enlightenment" may usefully be applied, but the meanings of the term shift as we apply it. The things are connected, but not continuous; they cannot be reduced to a single narrative; and we find ourselves using the word "Enlightenment" in a family of ways and talking about a family of phenomena, resembling and related to one another in a variety of ways that permit various generalizations about them: This seems to me far too vague and diffuse to be useful. There was a wide range of opinion, certainly, but it was not a spectrum but rather a set of rifts between closely interactive competitors readily classifiable as a single narrative. Indeed, with its two main contending streams—moderate and radical—the Enlightenment can only be understood as a single narrative.

The definition used here retains Robertson's emphasis on the unitary and fundamentally transforming character of the Enlightenment while avoiding the narrower, fragmented quality, and resort to national perspectives, of Pocock's definition. It also avoids the excessively unitary character of Gay's definition. Mainly, though, the definition proposed here attempts to be more complete than other definitions in particular by correcting Robertson's four gaps. That is it seeks to incorporate the full chronological span—the Enlightenment era runs from around 1680 to around 1800—to restore the centrality of 'philosophy' rather than other things as the primary agent of betterment, to reflect the close linkage of Enlightenment with fundamental transformation, challenging accepted values, and revolution, and, finally, to accommodate the quest for universality. Such a formula, one might suppose, at first glance, misses the essence of the British Enlightenment; but I do not think that it does. Even the most conservative of the Enlightenment's great philosophers, and the most inclined to restrict the scope of reason, Hume and Burke, clearly thought the principles and new (as they saw it) constitution produced by the Glorious Revolution of 1688-91, and the toleration, press freedom, and mixture of monarchy and republicanism issuing from it, had recently transformed England, Scotland, and North America fundamentally, and could transform other societies—Burke hoped to see this in India, Ireland, and France—comparably, and that philosophy and philosophical history played a large part as a critical tool, especially in revealing what the real nature of these salutary and transforming principles was and how to preserve and propagate them.

Enlightenment, then, is defined here as a partly unitary phenomenon operative on both sides of the Atlantic, and eventually everywhere, consciously committed to the notion of bettering humanity in this world through a fundamental, revolutionary transformation discarding the ideas, habits, and traditions of the past either wholly or partially, this last point being bitterly contested among enlighteners; Enlightenment operated usually by revolutionizing ideas and constitutional principles, first, and society afterwards, but sometimes by proceeding in reverse order, uncovering and making better known the principles of a great 'revolution' that had already happened. All Enlightenment by definition is closely linked to revolution. Here I think is an accurate, historically grounded, complete definition. This projected 'revolution'—this term was continually used in this connection at the time by Voltaire and other contemporaries—had either recently happened, as was often supposed in England, Scotland, and pre-1776 America, or was now happening, as Voltaire believed was the case in Germany, France, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Russia, and Italy, or would eventually happen, as was hoped by most radical philosopher and the first Spanish American libertadores, such political visionaries as Francisco de Miranda.

Enlightenment is, hence, best characterized as the quest for human amelioration occurring between 1680 and 1800, driven principally by 'philosophy, that is, what we would term philosophy, science, and political and social science including the new science of economics lumped together, leading to revolutions in ideas and attitudes first, and actual practical revolutions second, or else the other way around, both sets of revolutions seeking universal recipes for all mankind and, ultimately, in its radical manifestation, laying the foundations for modern basic human rights and freedoms and representative democracy. Certainly, there was a deep internal split between radical and moderate enlighteners. But both radical and moderate enlighteners sought general amelioration and both could readily accept Adam Smith's definition of 'philosophy' as the 'science of the connecting principles of nature. Both tendencies could agree that therefore nature and everything shaped by Nature is the sphere of philosophy and that 'philosophy' is the key debate with regard to everything. Of course, both sides adamantly insisted on their realism and practicality while assailing the opposition for being impractical, Burke rebuking Richard Price, for instance, for dealing in empty abstract propositions when speaking of inalienable rights." But where moderate Enlightenment demonstrated its practical good sense by being able to compromise with the existing order, by disavowing reason's applicability in some areas and justifying existing constraints and circumstances in part, the radical wing claimed to be, and was, the more realistic in offering comprehensive solutions to increasingly urgent unsolved social, legal, and political problems that the moderate Enlightenment proved unable to cope with.

What caused the Enlightenment? As one would expect from so profound, far-ranging, and multi-faceted a phenomenon, its roots were numerous, complex, and very deep-seated. There were two main categories of causes that can be usefully classified as intellectual-scientific, on the one hand, and social-cultural on the other. The first group were essentially factors of destabilization undermining long-accepted scientific, theological, and philosophical premisses. An obvious strand here was Copernicus' heliocentrism and the researches of Galileo rejecting all previously accepted notions about the relationship of the earth to the sun and other planets and changing the ways nature itself was conceived and science pursued. In other words, the impact of what today is commonly still called the 'Scientific Revolution, originally an idea forged by Fontenelle, d'Alembert, Voltaire, and others in the Enlightenment era, was a key cause of the Enlightenment.

But there were other major destabilizing initiatives such as the Renaissance's rediscovery of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, especially the rediscovery of ancient scepticism which eventually introduced systematic doubt in every area of argument and belief, generating intense and long-lasting unease persisting well into the eighteenth century. Another strand was the tension between philosophical reason and theology associated with the advance of Western Averroism in the later Middle Ages and the inability of Aquinas' powerful synthesis of reason and faith to effect a fully satisfactory reconciliation. Another crucial cause and symptom of the underlying tension characteristic of intellectual life, especially in Italy and France, during the century and half prior to the Enlightenment proper, was the rise of a literary movement known as libertinage érudit, a tendency hinting at religiously and morally subversive ideas that operated in a hidden, veiled manner, especially by quoting disturbing and disorienting comments drawn from classical literature and encouraging readers to read between the lines. This trend helped generate what from the late seventeenth century evolved into an underground literature of clandestine manuscripts rejecting all the most basic and sacred suppositions of existing authority and religion.

Among social-cultural and political causes of the Enlightenment the most crucial was the stalemate that ended the Wars of Religion and untidy compromises embodied in the Peace of Westphalia (1648), ending the Thirty Years War. God must be on one side or the other, men assumed, so how could the outcome of the struggle be absolute deadlock and totally inconclusive? The psychological shock of such a result was tremendous, and the problems associated with organizing the many compromises that had to be hammered out forced a whole new culture of de facto toleration and acceptance of religious plurality which then had to be theorized and legitimized in complex ways. This unavoidable pressure to accommodate religious plurality peacefully had to be faced not just in Germany, France, Britain, and Ireland but also in the Netherlands, Czech lands, Switzerland, Poland, Russia, and Hungary-Transylvania. At the deepest level the dilemmas de facto toleration generated in a deeply traditional cultural world precipitated a weakening of theology's power to fix social norms and policy that arguably became noticeable in some areas of government policy earlier than in intellectual life. A prime example were the late seventeenth-century monarchies' willingness to give more emphasis to economic, and less to theological and legal, criteria than had been usual earlier, in widening de facto toleration and accommodating Christian dissenters and Jews.

Another social factor was the unprecedented expansion of the urban context especially in a few great capitals such as London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, and Petersburg but also in the closely bunched Dutch towns, creating a new sphere of cultural cosmopolitanism fed by imported products and sometimes people from Asia, Africa, and the Americas and social and sexual fluidity and vagueness blurring traditional class distinctions. It is vital not to suppose, meanwhile, that anything like a socioeconomic class shift of the sort Marxist historians tended to predicate was under way. Although it has been claimed that in North America the Enlightenment was the work of the 'landed gentry, in fact nowhere was the Enlightenment the work of any particular social group. Leading representatives of Enlightenment thought came from aristocratic, bourgeois, and artisan backgrounds and the Enlightenment movement itself always remained socially heterogeneous and non-class specific, in terms of its spokesmen, objectives, and socio-economic consequences.

Typically, when eighteenth-century authors referred to what we call Enlightenment they spoke of, `ce siècle éclairé' [this enlightened century], `ce siècle philosophique' [this philosophical century], the progress of reason, or invoked as Voltaire did writing to d'Alembert, on 4 June 1767, the `triomphes de la raison' and this `happy revolution occurring in the minds of all the well-intentioned over the last fifteen or twenty years'.

Together, the long-term causes, intellectual-scientific and social-cultural, set in motion a philosophical 'revolution' which shattered all the major thought-structures and premisses of the past causing an unprecedentedly sharp break in intellectual and academic life. Seven great philosophers were associated with this initial process of rupture—Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Bayle, and Leibniz—all of whom to a greater or lesser degree shared the 'revolutionary' tendency of all Enlightenment to sweep the past aside and lay down new premisses. Within a very short space of time, these thinkers powerfully demonstrated that both the basic assumptions of centuries of previous thought and most men's prevailing beliefs and ideas in existing society were fundamentally wrong and ill grounded. Were it possible, moreover, to improve men's thinking this would in itself greatly improve human life and institutions by rendering society safer, healthier, more tolerant, more effective in its use of science, and more orderly and equipped with better legislation and laws.

All seven, then, powerfully contributed to grounding the Enlightenment. However, the revolutionary tendency inherent in their innovations later developed along two distinct lines. On the one hand, there was an impulse to find ways to reconcile the new premisses with reaffirming at least the most basic components of authority and faith drawn from the past in an adjusted, slimmed-down format. This strategy of compromise, allowing some of the theologians' claims and some validity to traditional sources of authority, was most explicit in Descartes with his two-substance metaphysics and the great German thinker Leibniz, but central also to Hobbes and Locke. The other embryonic tendency discernible among the seven great thinkers and many of their disciples deemed the new universal principles uncovered by philosophical reason the exclusive guide rather than the joint source of guidance and legitimacy and hence carried the revolutionary tendency further.

Bayle was pivotal in this process of polarization because his corrosive scepticism about everything and anything anyone believes served to sever moral thought and politics from theology altogether while his use of philosophical reason to legitimize toleration (in which respect he went further than Locke), and establish the social basis for moral, social, and political principles, had the effect also of separating social theory generally from theology and church doctrine!' However, Spinoza's contribution was arguably the most crucial in crystallizing what is here termed Radical Enlightenment, primarily because his thought goes further than that of the other six in undermining belief in revelation, divine providence, and miracles, and hence ecclesiastical authority, and also because he was the first major advocate of freedom of thought and the press as distinct from freedom of conscience and the first great democratic philosopher. Radical Enlightenment, the reader needs to bear in mind, remained a largely clandestine movement, generally denounced and decried, until the 1770s. It was everywhere a much weaker force, at least on the surface, than the moderate mainstream Enlightenment and before 1789 (with one or two very fleeting exceptions) never enjoyed the backing of any governments, commanders, or churches in the way moderate Enlightenment frequently did.

Many scholars contend that in the Enlightenment era `Spinozism, a category frequently denounced and condemned, was not actually a coherent intellectual position but a vague, almost meaningless notion amounting to little more than a battle-cry useful for accusing enemies of being 'atheists. Some even claim the term means substantially different things in different contexts. Doubtless there are isolated examples of vague, loose usage. Much evidence can be cited, though, showing that this presumption of prevailing loose usage is wrong and that in all the major public controversies of the Enlightenment era from Spinoza's own time down to and after 1800, the term in fact designates a broadly coherent intellectual position. What is that position? In essence, it is the acceptance of a one-substance metaphysics ruling out all teleology, divine providence, miracles, and revelation, along with spirits separate from bodies and immortality of the soul, and denying that moral values are divinely delivered (with the corollary that therefore they have to be devised by men using terms relative to what is good or bad for society). Logically, `Spinozism' always went together with the idea that this man-made morality should provide the basis for legal and political legitimacy—and hence that equality is the first principle of a truly legitimate politics. Always present also is Spinoza's concomitant advocacy of freedom of thought.

Wherever segments of governments, churches, universities, academies, and other learned bodies were pro-Enlightenment, prior to 1789, they invariably rejected radical ideas and preferred one or other variant of what is here termed 'moderate Enlightenment'. Even though all Enlightenment writers and thinkers, by definition, considered the philosophical and scientific assumptions of the past to be broadly wrong, in renewing science, thought, and culture, and introducing toleration and the legal, educational, and social reforms, many felt that reason is not and should not be the only guide and that a balanced compromise between reason and tradition, or reason and religious authority, is necessary. Some leading proponents of moderate enlightenment such as Voltaire and Hume accorded little or no validity to religious authority as such but nevertheless remained anxious to restrict the scope of reason and retain tradition and ecclesiastical authority, duly clipped, as the primary guides for most people. There was a marked tendency for the moderate Enlightenment to shy away from the idea that the whole of society needs enlightening, and some of its foremost practitioners, such as Voltaire and Frederick the Great, even insisted on not attempting to enlighten the great majority, seeing any such plan as ill advised and dangerous.

Both 'moderate' and 'radical' enlightenment, whether in France, Britain, Germany, or wherever, centre around the notion of 'revolution'. All enlighteners thought of the Enlightenment as something revolutionary in the sense of being a process wholly transforming our understanding of the human condition, effecting large changes in institutions and political life, and in the relationship of ideas to reality even if their field of specific action was limited, as with Wolff busily transforming German philosophy and the world of university studies or with the young Beccaria engaged in legal reform. The formerly widespread misconception among historians and philosophers that the modern usage of the term 'revolution' to mean fundamental, sweeping change was not in use before the French Revolution is, we have stressed throughout, totally wrong. This assumption (still widespread among some scholars) has no basis in the evidence; on the contrary, nothing could be easier than to cite innumerable examples of such phrases as `cette heureuse révolution' used by Voltaire to designate the Enlightenment as a transforming force as he did writing to d'Alembert in June 1767. Far from being unknown or rare, conceiving Enlightenment as a 'revolution' transforming everything either to a large extent or totally was wholly characteristic and, after 1750, became more and more so.

However, for Hume, Adam Smith, Ferguson, Franklin, John Adams, and Burke, the 'revolution' that counted was something that in Britain and North America had already happened in the first place with the Glorious Revolution, the perfecting of the British constitution, instituting a stable toleration and free press and the expansion of British prosperity and power. Crucial also, for them, was the recent rise of Newtonian science and Locke's empiricism which were also deemed to have profoundly changed Britain and the American colonies for the better and in principle to be a potential recipe for others. Nor were they alone in thinking so. Quite the contrary, British mixed monarchy, toleration, science, philosophical empiricism, and even English law were seen by a number of key figures on the Continent, most notably Voltaire and Montesquieu, as the best available example and package of values transforming society for the better, something to be emulated on all sides.

Considered philosophically, there were two varieties of moderate enlightenment, on the one hand the Lockian-Newtonian construct dominant in Britain, America, Spain, France, and Holland; and, on the other, the Leibnizian-Wolffian tradition dominant in Germany, central Europe, Scandinavia, and Russia. Both of these vigorous Enlightenment currents could find expression as a form of religious enlightenment (Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish), or alternatively flourish as a form of deism, atheism, or agnosticism. As regards the Radical Enlightenment, there was only one lasting philosophical basis—one-substance doctrine denying there is any divine governance of the world. Lots of thinkers shared or participated in such a vision, and helped shape it, but as Bayle, himself one of its leading heralds, emphasized, even though the rudiments of the system itself reached back to ancient times, and had flourished as an underground during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, no other thinker had managed to lend so coherent a face to this way of thinking as Spinoza. Innumerable denunciations of one-substance doctrine and materialism in the eighteenth century commonly refer to these two (not quite identical) phenomena as `Spinozism'.

By 1789, radical thought and its social and legal goals had indeed come to form a powerful rival 'package logic'—equality, democracy, freedom of the individual, freedom of thought and expression, and a comprehensive religious toleration—that could be proclaimed as a clearly formulated package of basic human rights. Only adherents of radical ideas embraced fundamental human rights as the veritable basis for social theory and political constitutions and enthusiastically welcomed this aspect of the Revolution. However, adherents of radical ideas did not have to be atheists and were almost never willing to admit (as Spinoza was not) to being atheists. There was undoubtedly some scope for reform-minded deists, Christians, Jews, and Muslims to join the one-substance Enlightenment. During the 1660s Spinoza had formed a close alliance with a group of Socinian Collegiants in Amsterdam, and subsequently, in Holland, Britain, and America, there existed significant groups of Unitarians, of whom Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) was the foremost publicist in the English-speaking world and Carl Friedrich Bahrdt (1740-92) in Germany, who not only rejected practically the entire apparatus of traditional theology, but steered their variant of Christianity as close to materialism as possible: Priestley actually claimed (not altogether coherently) to be a Christian materialist. Insofar as this religious fringe also called for a comprehensive toleration and full freedom of thought and the press and supported democratic initiatives, insisting the British constitution was very far from being the perfect thing most contemporary Englishmen believed it to be, and that there was an urgent need of far-reaching parliamentary, legal, social, ecclesiastical, and educational reform in Britain and the United States too, this group likewise belonged to the Radical Enlightenment. The Unitarian strand of the Radical Enlightenment, though, was always unstable intellectually and tended to fragment during the 1790s and, unlike the Unitarian churches more generally, disappeared during the early nineteenth century!'

During the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the Radical Enlightenment existed only in the form of tiny underground networks, atheist, radical deist, and Unitarian, in France, Holland, Germany, and England, propagating their ideas mainly in the form of clandestine manuscripts and a few illicit, anonymous publications that were vigorously suppressed by all authorities—monarchical, republican, ecclesiastical, and academic alike. Before 1750, the radical tradition was intellectually central to European civilization but socially and politically wholly marginal. From the great public controversy over the Encyclopédic of Diderot and d'Alembert, in France during the 1750s onwards, however, the position changed. This raises the question of how and why the radical tendency surged up from the underground to become briefly hegemonic in the 1780s and 1790s. Its advances in the 1780s and early 1790s was so impressive that Tom Paine and many others assumed Radical Enlightenment was on the verge of decisively transforming the political face and social and cultural norms of the entire Western world. Its successes in the years 1788-92, however, were very partial and its philosophical principles rapidly rejected and perverted by Robespierre and the Jacobins. As Paine, one of the giants of radical ideology, aptly expressed it a few years later: with Robespierre, 'the principles of the Revolution, which philosophy had first diffused' were 'departed from [and] philosophy rejected. The intolerant spirit of church persecution ... transferred itself into politics; the tribunals, styled revolutionary, supplied the place of an inquisition; and the guillotine of the stake'. And although the 'revolution of reason' was briefly reconstituted in the years 1795-1800, Napoleon (while incorporating some parts of it) shortly after 1800 definitively replaced its freedoms and democratic contours with a new kind of authoritarianism. Nevertheless, the Radical Enlightenment survived through the nineteenth century, especially in the minds of great artists and poets, like Heine and George Eliot, as the hope for a free, just, equitable, democratic, an secular society in the future.

Some critics mistakenly suppose that I claim the Radical Enlightenment achieve( its partial successes in the late eighteenth century through the power of ideas alone, This criticism has been repeated time and again but is completely misplaced. The principal reason for the partial successes of radical thought in the 1780s and 1790s was the almost total failure of the moderate Enlightenment to deliver reforms that much of enlightened society had for decades been pressing for. There were many religious minorities eager for a comprehensive toleration but except for France in 1789, no European country delivered a full toleration and in Britain the position of the Catholics and Unitarians remained especially unsatisfactory. Many publicists agitated for (more) freedom of thought and the press; yet no European country delivered full, formal freedom of the press and freedom of thought until Denmark did so, fleetingly, in 1770-2 and France during the years 1788-92. Serfdom still oppressed large numbers in central and eastern Europe; but nowhere were the serfs wholly emancipated before 1789. Black slavery marred the Americas; but only slowly and marginally were the slaves being emancipated. There were ceaseless (and all too justified) complaints about the archaic, inconsistent, and often highly inequitable character of Europe's legal systems (that of Britain included); yet, full equality before the law was nowhere delivered except by revolution in America first and then, in France, in 1789. Democratic ideas were nowhere respectable except to some degree in the nascent United States and, again, in France after 1789. Men tyrannized over women everywhere as they had for centuries. This remained the case after 1789; but in radical circles in France in 1789, some editors and spokesmen began calling for reforms to the marriage laws, seeing abolition of the dowry system and civil divorce as the key to less subjection of women as well as to generally diminishing the power of paternal family heads over individuals.

The official Enlightenment of the courts and churches broadly failed in their Enlightenment reform programmes extending from Chile to Russia and from Scandinavia to Naples, because moderate Enlightenment, dependent as it was on the backing of kings, aristocrats, and the ecclesiastical arm, was incapable of delivering the emancipatory reforms many others besides radical philosopher wanted (albeit even more people opposed them). It was because social grievance was widespread that radical ideas proved able to mobilize support and gain an important field of action, an opportunity widened by the fact that one-substance monism yielded a metaphysics and moral philosophy apparently more consistent and free of logical difficulties than any philosophical alternative—at least prior to the rise of Kantianism as a major cultural force in the late 1780s. Philosophies reconciling reason with religious authority, or, like Hobbes's naturalism, with absolutism, or, like Hume's scepticism, combining a pruned-back reason with tradition, inevitably incurred more difficulties than la philosophie moderne in looking consistent and in combining principles with sweeping reform. It may be true that most people remained wholly untroubled by inconsistency and 'bad arguments. But there are always some at all social levels for whom intellectual consistency matters—and this applies especially to those aspiring to reform customs, laws, and institutions.

Briefly, one-substance metaphysics went hand in hand with sweeping reform. The whole point of the great Pantheismusstreit in Germany in the 1780s is that conservative thinkers like Jacobi and Rehberg concluded that no philosophy can withstand Spinoza using rational arguments as he is generally more consistent than any other thinker then available. From this they inferred the impossibility of blocking the materialism of Diderot, d'Holbach, and Helvétius intellectually and, consequently, the need, or duty, of true conservatives to abandon philosophy and Enlightenment altogether relying on faith and authority instead. Such arguments helped fuel the rise of the Counter-Enlightenment, rejecting reason and insisting that faith and authority are the sole true guides in human life, a key factor weakening mainstream Enlightenment. Spinoza's seemingly incomparable cogency (which greatly troubled Voltaire in his last years) cannot be dismissed, as many try to, as some sort of philosophical judgement on my part. Rather it is a historical fact that in the late eighteenth century, many people believed or feared (often much to their consternation) that one-substance monism, at least to all appearances, was much the most formidably coherent philosophy obtainable.

Finally, and integral to explaining why Radical Enlightenment eventually emerged so powerfully after 1770, is the evidence of the familiar mechanism of modern revolutions. Prior to the late eighteenth century, simmering discontent usually just kept on simmering. Institutionalized oppression persisted in pre-enlightened circumstances for centuries unaddressed or barely addressed. But this is not what happened between 1775 and 1810 when there were a truly astounding number of revolutions successful or unsuccessful in America, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Peru, New Granada (Colombia), Haiti, Italy, Spain, and the Rhineland. Study of these upheavals suggests the most crucial feature of their revolutionary mechanics is the introduction by an aggrieved but aspiring intellectual leadership of totalizing, all-renewing revolutionary ideologies the concepts of which the common people were not interested in and had little grasp of, but which could be successfully used (and manipulated) as channels for popular grievances and resentment.

Except for the American Revolution which followed a different pattern, all these revolutions were orchestrated by tiny batches of mostly strikingly unrepresentative editors, orators, pamphleteers, and professional agitators or renegade nobles, like Mirabeau and Volney—and practically never businessmen, lawyers, or office-holders. These entirely unrepresentative intellectuals captured a mass following by seizing on and amplifying popular protest arising from widespread discontent into a formidable political force. The leaders of the French Revolution of 1788-92 were socially completely marginal, and heterogeneous as well as unrepresentative; all they had in common was their ideological standpoint, and here the 'revolution of reason' was strikingly cohesive, especially after the pro-British, anti-philosophique moderate monarchiens—great devotees of moderate Enlightenment—were ousted from the Mounier, Necker, and the monarchiens, and also Marmontel, were never willing to recognize the Revolution as anything of the sort. The primary task of the historian of the French Revolution today is to refine, clarify, and deepen the late eighteenth-century insight that modern historiography has somehow lost much to its cost that la philosophie was the primary cause of the Revolution. It was indeed overwhelmingly the primary factor; but not quite in the way that the anti-philosophes envisaged it and to explain this is one of the central objectives of these volumes.


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Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 [paperback] by Jonathan I. Israel (Oxford University Press) [hardcover] In the wake of the Scientific Revolution, the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw the complete demolition of traditional structures of authority, scientific thought, and belief by the new philosophy and the philosophes, including Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau. The Radical Enlightenment played a part in this revolutionary process, which effectively overthrew all justification for monarchy, aristocracy, and ecclesiastical power, as well as man's dominance over woman, theological dominance of education, and slavery. Despite the present day interest in the revolutions of the eighteenth 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 Racial Enlightenment was not French, British, German, Italian, Jewish or Dutch, but all of these at the same time.
In this wide-ranging volume, Jonathan Israel offers a novel interpretation of the Radical Enlightenment down to La Mettie and Diderot, two of its key exponents. Particular emphasis is placed on the pivotal role of Spinoza and the widespread underground international philosophical movement known before 1750 as Spinozism.

Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man 1670-1752  [paperback] by Jonathan I. Israel (Oxford University Press) [hardcover] he first major reassessment of the Western Enlightenment for a generation. Continuing the story he began in Radical Enlightenment, Jonathan Israel now focuses on the first half of the eighteenth century. He traces to their roots the core principles of Western modernity: the primacy of reason, democracy, racial equality, feminism, religious toleration, sexual emancipation, and freedom of expression.

Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights, 1750-1790 [Hardcover] by Jonathan I. Israel (Oxford University Press) That the Enlightenment shaped modernity is uncontested. Yet remarkably few historians or philosophers have attempted to trace the process of ideas from the political and social turmoil of the late eighteenth century to the present day. This is precisely what Jonathan Israel now does.