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The Case for The Enlightenment
Scotland and Naples 1680–1760


Part of Ideas in Context

  • Date Published: May 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521035729

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About the Authors
  • The Case for the Enlightenment is a comparative study of the emergence of Enlightenment in Scotland and in Naples. Challenging the tendency to fragment the Enlightenment in eighteenth-century Europe into multiple Enlightenments, the distinguished intellectual historian John Robertson demonstrates the extent to which thinkers in two societies at the opposite ends of Europe shared common intellectual preoccupations. Before 1700, Scotland and Naples faced a bleak future as backward, provincial kingdoms in a Europe of aggressive commercial states. Yet by 1760, Scottish and Neapolitan thinkers were in the van of those advocating the cause of Enlightenment by means of political economy. By studying the social and institutional contexts of intellectual life in the two countries, and the currents of thought promoted within them, The Case for the Enlightenment explains this transformation. John Robertson pays particular attention to the greatest thinkers in each country, David Hume and Giambattista Vico.

    • A major comparative study of a central theme in the history of European ideas
    • Distinguished author, currently Chairman of the History Faculty at Oxford
    • Challenges the fashionable view that there were many Enlightenments, demonstrating the extent to which Enlightenment thinkers shared common intellectual interests and preoccupations
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'I look forward … to the debates that this fine book will produce.' The Times Literary Supplement

    'John Robertson's excellent new book presents a sustained comparison of intellectual life in Naples and Scotland … in order - among other things - to argue against Israel's revisionist periodisation.' The Philosophers' Magazine

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521035729
    • length: 476 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 28 mm
    • weight: 0.706kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The case for the Enlightenment
    2. Scotland and Naples in 1700
    3. The intellectual worlds of Naples and Scotland 1680–c.1725
    4. The predicament of 'kingdoms governed as provinces'
    5. Vico, after Bayle
    6. Hume, after Bayle and Mandeville
    7. The advent of Enlightenment: political economy in Naples and Scotland 1730–1760
    Conclusion: the Enlightenment vindicated?

  • Author

    John Robertson, University of Oxford
    JOHN ROBERTSON is University Lecturer in Modern History and a Fellow of St Hugh's College, Oxford.

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