The Pragmatic Enlightenment

The Pragmatic Enlightenment

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This is a study of the political theory of the Enlightenment, focusing on four leading eighteenth-century thinkers: David Hume, Adam Smith, Montesquieu and Voltaire. Dennis C. Rasmussen calls attention to the particular strand of the Enlightenment these thinkers represent, which he terms the 'pragmatic Enlightenment'. He defends this strand of Enlightenment thought against both the Enlightenment's critics and some of the more idealistic Enlightenment figures who tend to have more followers today, such as John Locke, Immanuel Kant and Jeremy Bentham. Professor Rasmussen argues that Hume, Smith, Montesquieu and Voltaire exemplify an especially attractive type of liberalism, one that is more realistic, moderate, flexible, and contextually sensitive than most other branches of this tradition.means to the same end: a€œAs religion and the civil laws should aim principally to make people into good citizens, one sees that ... threats, and force is ineffectual: a€œ a more certain way to attack religion is by favor, by the comforts of life, by the hope of fortune; ... In other words, Montesquieua#39;s aim is to render people moderate or even lukewarm regarding religion: neither ... assumptions, 150 while others depict him as a thoroughly secular thinker, perhaps even an atheist.151 On my reading, anbsp;...

Title:The Pragmatic Enlightenment
Author:Dennis C. Rasmussen
Publisher:Cambridge University Press - 2013-11-18


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