Scepticism in the Eighteenth Century: Enlightenment, Lumières, Aufklärung (International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées)

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9789400748095: Scepticism in the Eighteenth Century: Enlightenment, Lumières, Aufklärung (International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées)
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The Age of Enlightenment has often been portrayed as a dogmatic period on account of the veritable worship of reason and progress that characterized Eighteenth Century thinkers. Even today the philosophes are considered to have been completely dominated in their thinking by an optimism that leads to dogmatism and ultimately rationalism. However, on closer inspection, such a conception seems untenable, not only after careful study of the impact of scepticism on numerous intellectual domains in the period, but also as a result of a better understanding of the character of the Enlightenment. As Giorgio Tonelli has rightly observed: “the Enlightenment was indeed the Age of Reason but one of the main tasks assigned to reason in that age was to set its own boundaries.” Thus, given the growing number of works devoted to the scepticism of Enlightenment thinkers, historians of philosophy have become increasingly aware of the role played by scepticism in the Eighteenth Century, even in those places once thought to be most given to dogmatism, especially Germany. Nevertheless, the deficiencies of current studies of Enlightenment scepticism are undeniable. In taking up this question in particular, the present volume, which is entirely devoted to the scepticism of the Enlightenment in both its historical and geographical dimensions, seeks to provide readers with a revaluation of the alleged decline of scepticism. At the same time it attempts to resituate the Pyrrhonian heritage within its larger context and to recapture the fundamental issues at stake. The aim is to construct an alternative conception of Enlightenment philosophy, by means of philosophical modernity itself, whose initial stages can be found herein.

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Often portrayed as a period bound by the dogma of slavish obedience to the diktats of reason and progress, the Age of Enlightenment is revealed by this profound analysis to have been riddled with skeptical attitudes and characters, even in the Enlightenment's most codified locations, such as Germany. Most philosophers of the period are still widely regarded today as having been dominated by a core triple nexus of optimism, dogmatism and rationalism, and despite a growing body of literature exploring the features of their work that could be regarded as informed by skepticism, this unrivaled survey points up the deficiencies of the former.

 

This volume, then, offers an exploration of the impact of skepticism in both its historic and geographic dimensions, providing readers with a reevaluation of the role played by skepticism itself. The detailed narrative covers every identifiable instance of skepticism in the Eighteenth Century, tracing its influence of thought on major British, French and German philosophers, and including lesser-known figures whose contemporary influence requires their inclusion in a comprehensive study such as this.

 

This volume, then, offers an exploration of the impact of skepticism in both its historic and geographic dimensions, providing readers with a reevaluation of the role played by skepticism itself. The detailed narrative covers every identifiable instance of skepticism in the Eighteenth Century, tracing its influen

ce of thought on major British, French and German philosophers, and including lesser-known figures whose contemporary influence requires their inclusion in a comprehensive study such as this.

About the Author:

Sébastien Charles is full Professor of History of Philosophy at the Université de Sherbrooke (Canada), where he is the director of the Laboratoire de recherche sur la pensée moderne. He has published numerous books and articles on early modern French philosophers, from Descartes to Fouchet and Huet, on Berkeley and the French Enlightenment, and on the history of scepticism. Plínio Junqueira Smith is professor at Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brazil. He was educadet at Universidade de São Paulo, was head of the Graduate Programm at the Universidade São Judas Tadeu, and a visiting scholar at Wolfson College, Oxford. He has published works on Hume, modern philosophy from Montaigne to Kant, contemporary scepticism and the history of scepticism.

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