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The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenmentsby Gertrude Himmelfarb
Synopses & Reviews
In an elegant, eminently readable work, one of our most distinguished intellectual historians gives us a brilliant revisionist history. The Roads to Modernity reclaims the Enlightenment–an extraordinary time bursting with new ideas about human nature, politics, society, and religion--from historians who have downgraded its importance and from scholars who have given preeminence to the Enlightenment in France over concurrent movements in England and America.
Contrasting the Enlightenments in the three nations, Himmelfarb demonstrates the primacy and wisdom of the British, exemplified in such thinkers as Adam Smith, David Hume, and Edmund Burke, as well as the unique and enduring contributions of the American Founders. It is their Enlightenments, she argues, that created a social ethic–humane, compassionate, and realistic–that still resonates strongly today, in America perhaps even more than in Europe.
The Roads to Modernity is a remarkable and illuminating contribution to the history of ideas.
Contrasting the Enlightenments in the three nations of France, England, and America, a distinguished intellectual historian demonstrates the primacy of the British Enlightenment, arguing that the moral and social philosophy it created still resonates strongly today. Reprint.
Gertrude Himmelfarb taught for twenty-three years at Brooklyn College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York, where she was named Distinguished Professor of History in 1978. Now Professor Emeritus, she lives with her husband, Irving Kristol, in Washington, D.C. Her previous books include The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values; On Looking into the Abyss: Untimely Thoughts on Culture and Society; Poverty and Compassion: The Moral Imagination of the Late Victorians; The New History and the Old; Marriage and Morals Among the Victorians; The Idea of Poverty: England in
the Early Industrial Age; On Liberty and Liberalism: The Case of John Stuart Mill; Victorian Minds (nominated for a National Book Award); Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution; and Lord Acton: A Study in Conscience and Politics.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
The British Enlightenment: The Sociology of Virtue
1. “Social Affections” and Religious Dispositions
2. Political Economy and Moral Sentiments
3. Edmund Burke’s Enlightenment
4. Radical Dissenters
5. Methodism: “A Social Religion”
6. “The Age of Benevolence”
The French Enlightenment: The Ideology of Reason
The American Enlightenment: The Politics of Liberty
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