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Challenging the recent tendency to fragment the Enlightenment in eighteenth-century Europe into multiple Enlightenments, 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. Robertson pays particular attention to the greatest thinkers in each country, David Hume and Giambattista Vico.Read more
- 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
Reviews & endorsements
"...one of the most profound and illuminating studies in comparative historical analysis and political thought published in recent decades. Robertson has made an excellent use of the literature. But it is the idea, the imagination of the work, that is even more impressive."
-Filippo Sabetti, McGill University, Canadian Journal of Political ScienceSee more reviews
"John Robertson is very aware of these debates and is, in this book, a significant contributor to them. Read the first and the last chapter here, and one would have a very sound insight into the varied contours of recent Enlightenment scholarship. Take the five central chapters, and one has an informed and scholarly account of the nature and making of political economy as an Enlightenment discourse, most acutely in Naples and in Scotland whose provincial status and local setting is examined even as Robertson traces the connections that sustained that specialized Enlightenment above and beneath the "nations" in question. Taken together, we have a book that offers detailed scrutiny of one theme of the Enlightenment, a clear statement of "the existence of Enlightenment as a coherent, unified intellectual movement of the eighteenth century, whose adherents engaged in original enquiry into the fundamentals of human sociability, and were committed to the cause of bettering the human condition in this world without regard to the next" (p. 47), and a study of the importance of local context, individually and in comparison, to the explanation of political economy and to his view of Enlightenment."
-Charles W. J. Withers, Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh, H-NET
"Robertson's book is careful, learned, and elegantly structured; he combines these substantial merits with a generous sense of objections that might be made to his argument, which he answers patiently and plausibly...Robertson's commanding book gives us an utterly fresh example of the problems that comparative history should address, and how to address them."
-Paul Cheney, University of Chicago, Journal of Modern History
"[A] closely argued, copiously researched, and original work of scholarship."
18th Century Scotland, James Moore, Concordia University
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- 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?
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