The Philosophy of the Enlightenment

The Philosophy of the Enlightenment : Updated Edition

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In this classic work of intellectual history, Ernst Cassirer provides both a cogent synthesis and a penetrating analysis of one of history's greatest intellectual epochs: the Enlightenment. Arguing that there was a common foundation beneath the diverse strands of thought of this period, he shows how Enlightenment philosophers drew upon the ideas of the preceding centuries even while radically transforming them to fit the modern world. In Cassirer's view, the Enlightenment liberated philosophy from the realm of pure thought and restored it to its true place as an active and creative force through which knowledge of the world is achieved. In a new foreword, Peter Gay considers The Philosophy of the Enlightenment in the context in which it was written--Germany in 1932, on the precipice of the Nazi seizure of power and one of the greatest assaults on the ideals of the Enlightenment. He also argues that Cassirer's work remains a trenchant defense against enemies of the Enlightenment in the twenty-first century.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 392 pages
  • 140 x 203 x 25.4mm | 425g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • Revised
  • Revised edition
  • 069114334X
  • 9780691143347
  • 75,723

Back cover copy

"In 1932, Cassirer's warning against dismissing Enlightenment thought as shallow went tragically unheard, but it is as timely as ever. His classic study of Enlightenment philosophy has not been surpassed. In portraying Enlightenment philosophy as a process, not a doctrine, Cassirer not only undermines all those caricatures of the Enlightenment that still flourish within and without the academy; he also shows the force it can have for renewing philosophy itself."--Susan Neiman, author of Moral Clarity

"Ernst Cassirer's The Philosophy of the Enlightenment is not only a brilliantly original work of history, it is itself a work of philosophy by one of the twentieth century's most interesting thinkers. Despite all that has been written on the Enlightenment since it first appeared in 1932, it remains unsurpassed."--Anthony Pagden, University of California, Los Angeles

"This fine new re-edition of Ernst Cassirer's The Philosophy of the Enlightenment gives us two classics in one: Cassirer's own seminal statement of the evolution of eighteenth-century philosophy, and a concise and moving foreword by an intellectual sympathizer, Peter Gay, amongst the greatest historians of our time. Together the two men did more than virtually any other to define the Enlightenment for the twentieth century."--Darrin M. McMahon, Florida State University
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Table of contents

FOREWORD vii PREFACE xi Chapter I. THE MIND OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT 3 Chapter II. NATURE AND NATURAL SCIENCE 37 Chapter III. PSYCHOLOGY AND EPISTEMOLOGY 93 Chapter IV. RELIGION 134 I. The Dogma of Original Sin and the Problem of Theodicy 137 II. Tolerance and the Foundation of Natural Religion 160 III. Religion and History 182 Chapter V. THE CONQUEST OF THE HISTORICAL WORLD 197 Chapter VI. LAW, STATE, AND SOCIETY 234 I. Law and the Principle of Inalienable Rights 234 II. The Contract and the Method of the Social Sciences 253 Chapter VII. FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS OF AESTHETICS 275 I. The Age of Criticism 275 II. Classical Aesthetics and the Objectivity of the Beautiful 278 III. Taste and the Trend toward Subjectivism 297 IV. Intuitional Aesthetics and the Problem of Genius 312 V. Reason and the Imagination: Gottsched and the Swiss Critics 331 VI. The Foundation of Systematic Aesthetics: Baumgarten 338 INDEX 361
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Review quote

"Cassirer's The Philosophy of the Enlightenment offers much to today's student of the cultural sciences... If nothing else, in our world of concise histories and quick overviews, Philosophy of the Enlightenment is still an excellent and detailed handbook for anyone interested in the various philosophical currents of the Enlightenment."--Hans-Peter Soder, European Legacy
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About Ernst Cassirer

Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945) was a German-Jewish philosopher who taught at several universities in Germany and the United States. He was the author of many books, including "The Myth of the State", "An Essay on Man", and "Language and Myth".
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212 ratings
4.09 out of 5 stars
5 37% (79)
4 41% (87)
3 16% (33)
2 6% (12)
1 0% (1)
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