Anthony Gottlieb: The Dream of Enlightenment



Icitly on European philosophers That s not my complaint My complaint is pretending that European philosophy is all there is I found one claim in particular to be breathtakingly ignorant Gottlieb claims that Locke gave the first sustained philosophical treatment of the issue of personal identity p 152 This claim is presented as if Buddhist and Brahmanical philosophers in India had not been debating the intricacies of personal identity for nearly 2000 before Locke wrote the Essay That such culturally myopic claims are freuently made by experts in the field of philosophy does nothing to mitigate their wrongnessSecond there s no chapter on Berkeley and very ittle discussion of him As a Berkeley fan I find this inexcusable I grant that Berkeley isn t everyone s cup of tea Still Bayle and the French Philosophes merit their own chapters and Berkeley is at Garden Bouquets and Beyond least as fun to read and as influential as they are especially for Hume and Kant Speaking of Kant there s no chapter on Kant either which bothers me slightlyess because I can see a case to be made that Kant is the culmination of the early modern period and watershed of a new era of European thought Apparently Gottlieb is working on another book that will start with Kant Still some sort of conclusion pointing the way to Kant may have helped wrap this one up What has the Enlightenment ever done for us This is an important uestion and the title of the ast chapter of this book My biased answer would include human rights democratic government personal freedom and separation of church and state I think it is no great exaggeration to say that the Enlightenment marks the beginning of a sea change in thought that rejected tyranny acknowledged the rights of common people and helped create the intellectual environment that made our modern world possible In this relatively short book 244 pages not counting notes Gottlieb summarizes key points of the Enlightenment s greatest thinkers Rene Descartes Thomas Hobbes Baruch Spinoza John Locke Pierre Bayle Gottfried Leibniz and David Hume with due mention to others who supported or opposed them It shows how these philosophical pioneers began to uestion convention challenge authority and propose alternatives Some of their ideas may seem strange backward or even outrageous to us now but they were constrained by the knowledge and beliefs of their time as we all are Unlike today or at east not to the same extent they also had to be cautious of the authority they were calling into uestion The fact that we today can freely express our thoughts without undue fear of reprisal is also I think a The Management Bible lasting gift of the EnlightenmentGottleib s writing is clean precise and easily comprehensible The philosophers he has chosen and the points he selects from each of them are appropriate to subject I recommend this to anyone interested in cultural evolution and the progress of human thought One thing I appreciate about this book is Gottlieb attempted to correct what he saw as common misunderstandings concerning certain philosophers ideas thus the section on Descartes Hobbs and Spinoza were really in. Tanding of ourselves and for our ideas of God How should a government deal with religious diversity and what is government actually for Their uestions remain our uestions and it is tempting to think these philosophers speak ouranguage and ive in our world; but to understand them properly we must step.

Teresting and contained new material that I had not heard in other histories of philosophy The author s disdain for John Locke seemed very evident yet it was still worthwhile to hear criticism of a philosopher of which I ve read and of whom I am fond To me the most disappointing part of the book was the section on Hume this is where Gottlieb s confirmation bias is on full display After the continual criticism for Locke one is struck how there is not even a hint of criticism of anything Hume had to say though plenty of his ideas such as Hume s basing morality in our feelings cry out for critiue It s not hard to gather that Gottlieb is an atheist and Hume is one of his heroes Every argument of Hume against religion is set forth as an absolute knock out and irrefutable argument that once and for all showed the irrationality of all religious writing that should all be thrown into the flames the absurdity of believing in miracles for they violate the aws of nature and the nonsense of the theistic argument for a Designer Not once does Gottlieb even slightly elude to the substantial problems other philosophers have found and the numerous responses to Hume s arguments How according to the criteria Hume set out his own works should be thrown into the flames How miracles are not violations of the Sleepless (Bird of Stone, laws of nature and how one can rationally deduce that the contingent universe suggest the need of something that is eternally necessary Atheist seem to be just as unsketpical when in comes to how credulously they accept anything that confirms what they wish to be true as the Christian fundamentalist is when embracing what confirms what they believe is true It appears to me that Hume is a secular saint and his adoration isike a Catholics regard for st Frances no atheist will ever entertain a doubt about his sacred words which set the world free from God Ours may not be the best of all possible worlds but these pioneers helped to make it an intellectually adventurous and as d Alembert suggested a ess ignorant oneDream was a most welcome birthday present for me personally its publication is also timely given a world which sorely needs to examine its present trajectory It is a survey by a retired journalist a ayman than apt to do the heavy ifting about the advocates of a mechanized world the stirring time in our early Modern period when the ghosts under our bed and the threat of Old Scratch could be outdistanced The noble products of this were the technology and the trappings of tolerance unfortunately it is an ongoing project Voltaire is included as foil to many Leibniz Hume and Rousseau but Voltaire captures something human and timeless much as his Candide when pondering the fortunes of the New World uips it may not be better but at east it will be different If only I am blessed with an adeuate familiarity of all the thinkers cited My chief course of improvement will be to read Hume Please forgive the possible vanity but I often feel Invisible (The Curse of Avalon like a Hobbes or Spinoza though Iack the talent and ambition of either Leibniz had by far the coolest Yummy Supper life and Rousseau was uite an asshole. Back into their shoes Gottlieb puts readers in the minds of these freuently misinterpreted figures elucidating the history of their times while engagingly explaining their arguments and assessing theiregacy Gottlieb creates a sweeping account of what they amounted to and why we are still in their deb.

Anthony Gottlieb Ð 1 REVIEW

I m going to cultivate my garden now This is a great followup to Gottlieb s book about mostly Greek Philosophy It s maybe a bit on the short side and Gottlieb cherry picks a few enlightenment philosophers to focus on rather than attempting to be at all comprehensive He eaves Kant out for example which feels ike a mistake Maybe he Deep Listening ll talk about him in the next volume Each chapter is essentially an essay on a different thinker and they are all very well done I particularly enjoyed the essay on Leibniz In the past my brain would glaze over as soon as I read any mention of monads or optimism but Gottlieb made his philosophy both interesting and comprehensible Iook forward to the next volume in this series Nice overview If you are already somewhat familiar with these philosophers it is still a useful refresher Gottlieb offers the most payoff by trying to straighten out many misconceptions about what they wrote and said A prep for tackling the new intellectual biography of Hume An OK primer to the Age of Enlightenment from Descartes to Hume though a bit shallow for those with background Gottlieb ikes sweeping summaries and contrasting wrong interpretations of a given thinker with a uote or anecdote that disproves them giving a consistent picture which perhaps belies the changing and contradictory nature of their work I ve been reading this book for a few months now for my philosophy Meetup group We ve been meeting monthly and each month we discussed just one chapter as each chapter covers a different philosopher from the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th 18th centuries It was a fascinating historical voyage Anthony Gottlieb does justice explaining what each eminent philosopher stood for what their prevailing works argued and what their ives were ike Gottlieb helps you put on your history goggles to see these historical men from an appropriate and engaging perspective As interesting as the first book He does a fast entertaining overview of pertinent philosophers Looking forward to the next installment Overall this is a nice overview of early modern European philosophy with a relatively digestible mix of biography history and philosophy although certainly not enough philosophy to substitute for actually reading the philosophers discussed I have some criticisms on those in a bit but this is a helpful thing to read if you ve already read some of the figures featured I d stress that this is not a book to read in ieu of reading the primary sources you have to have some basic familiarity with them to get much out of this book Neither is this a book for specialists but I doubt specialists need my Goodreads review to tell them thatI read this to add to my background and framing for teaching a class in early modern European philosophy for instance Gottlieb s framing of Leibniz as a traditionalist reacting to Spinoza s heterodoxy helped my students wrap their minds around these difficult figuresI have two main criticisms First Gottlieb s presentation of philosophy is uite Eurocentric Focusing on Europe in the book isn t a problem since he is after all focusing expl. In a short period from the early 1640s to the eve of the French Revolution Descartes Hobbes Spinoza Locke Leibniz and Hume all made their mark on Western thought The Dream of Enlightenment tells their story and that of the birth of modern philosophy What does the advance of science entail for our unders.

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Anthony Gottlieb is a British writer former Executive Editor of The Economist historian of ideas and the author of The Dream of Reason He was educated at Cambridge University and has held visiting fellowships at All Souls College Oxford and Harvard University He has taught at the CUNY Graduate Center and the New School in New York and been a visiting scholar at New York University and fell