Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World

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Consider the bizarre career of Benjamin Hoadly, one of the most controversial churchmen of the early 18th century.

The Enlightenment - Roy Porter - Google книги

Despite the fury which surrounded this sermon, an episode known to historians as the Bangorian controversy, Hoadly went on to climb the greasy pole of the episcopal hierarchy, eventually being preferred to the very rich see of Winchester in In any case, within the mainstream of the British Enlightenment, it was reckoned that the Aberdonian Common Sense philosopher George Campbell not cited by Porter had done a reasonable holding job on miracles.

Pressure had indeed mounted throughout the Enlightenment on the authority of scripture; but the dam would burst only in the middle of the 19th century. Should one distinguish the English Enlightenment from intellectual life in other parts of these islands?

More obviously, where does one draw the line between the unsung achievements of Georgian England and the recognised — overhyped almost — glories of the Scottish Enlightenment? This is a welcome antidote to the current obsession with the Scottish Enlightenment.

Porter is surely right to question that term as a description of the deployment of Shaftesbury by Francis Hutcheson, the Irish-born father of the Scottish moral sense school, to combat the ideas of Mandeville. The reluctance of nationalists to embrace the Scottish Enlightenment is one of the major ironies of Scottish intellectual life. Other nations of the British Isles receive very short shrift. The Welsh contribution to the British Enlightenment was marginal, though some mention might have been made of the polymath Edward Lhuyd, whose work in Celtic philology would in the long run help to clear away the lumber of self-serving ethnic origin myths.

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Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World

The omission of Ireland, however, is more serious. Churchmen of dubious orthodoxy who could not safely be elevated to the episcopate on the mainland tended to be dispatched across the Irish Sea.


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In Ireland the heterodox were not only out of sight, but, surrounded by an indifferent, if not actively hostile, Catholic population, they could presumably do little harm. In the end, his heterodoxy was deemed too outrageous for an English diocese, and he was awarded the safe consolation prize of the bishopric of Derry. It is made up out of the rubbish of old heresies; of a much ranker cast than common Arianism.

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As one might expect, Mr. Nevertheless, this readable book could be useful to readers searching for, yes, lowercase enlightenment, and finding accurate summaries of the main ideas of the figures covered.

Enlightenment Thinkers

Porter can be one-sided, too. Swift is simply put down as a reactionary.

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Porter scores the poet for acting as a prince of the pen looking down at the Grub Street drones, foot soldiers of the print Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves.

The Enlightenment. Roy Porter. The eighteenth-century Enlightenment was one of the most exciting and significant currents of European culture. Battling against tyranny, ignorance and superstition, it formulated the ideals which still inform our society today: a belief in reason, criticism, freedom of thought, religion and expression, the value of science, the pursuit of progress.