History and Nature in the Enlightenment: Praise of the by Nathaniel Wolloch

By Nathaniel Wolloch

The mastery of nature used to be considered through eighteenth-century historians as an immense degree of the development of civilization. smooth scholarship has hitherto taken inadequate detect of this crucial inspiration. This e-book discusses this subject in reference to the mainstream spiritual, political, and philosophical parts of Enlightenment tradition. It considers works through Edward Gibbon, Voltaire, Herder, Vico, Raynal, Hume, Adam Smith, William Robertson, and quite a lot of lesser- and better-known figures. It additionally discusses many classical, medieval, and early smooth resources which encouraged Enlightenment historiography, in addition to eighteenth-century attitudes towards nature quite often.

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Tom L. Beauchamp (Oxford, 1999), 169-86. The issue of early modern unbelief is one of the most perennial topics in modern scholarship and we cannot here go into more detail, but for a good introductory collection of essays see Atheism from the Reformation to the Enlightenment, ed. Michael Hunter and David Wootton (Oxford, 1992). For the Radical Enlightenment see Jonathan Israel, Radical Enlightenment, Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 (Oxford, 2001); idem, Enlightenment Contested, Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man 1670-1752 (Oxford, 2006); and for a different approach Margaret C.

He was “the source of all that exists in nature, whatever its kind, whatsoever its value,” and consequently also of humanity’s singular rationality within all of the natural order. For St. Augustine earthly prosperity was unimportant compared with the bliss of Heaven, and therefore, in order to avoid the worshippers’ wish for earthly dominions, God gave such earthly prosperity to both the good and the evil. Yet there was divine munificence and retribution in earthly matters, as evinced by the fate of the ancient Israelites, Adam Smith, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, ed.

31 All this was replete with the Christian cosmological outlook according to which God manipulated nature with a constant eye to the behavior of human beings. It became a mainstay of medieval culture that an unusual natural phenomenon or calamity was never just that in itself. Nature was not an objective reality to be scrutinized in rational manner but a manifestation of divine will beyond human control or comprehension. The only way the medieval mind was capable of coping with this ever-present foreboding reality was in a symbolic fashion, which accorded a meaning to what otherwise, from a pre-scientific perspective, seemed arbitrary and incomprehensible.

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