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Radical EnlightenmentPhilosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750$
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Jonathan I. Israel

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206088.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.2) (p.3) 1 Introduction
Source:
Radical Enlightenment
Author(s):

Jonathan I. Israel

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206088.003.0001

This introductory chapter begins with a discussion of radical thought in the Early Enlightenment. It argues that Europe's war of philosophies during the Early Enlightenment down to 1750 was never confined to the intellectual sphere and was never anywhere a straightforward two-way contest between traditionalists and moderni. Rather, the rivalry between moderate mainstream and radical fringe was always as much an integral part of the drama as that between the moderate Enlightenment and conservative opposition. In this triangular battle of ideas what was ultimately at stake was what kind of belief-system should prevail in Europe's politics, social order, and institutions, as well as in high culture and, no less, in popular attitudes. The discussion then turns to the ‘Crisis of the European Mind’, which denotes the unprecedented intellectual turmoil which commenced in the mid-17th century, with the rise of Cartesianism and the subsequent spread of ‘mechanical philosophy’ or the ‘mechanistic world-view’, an upheaval which heralded the onset of the Enlightenment proper in the closing years of the century.

Keywords:   Early Enlightenment, radical thought, Europe, Cartesianism, mechanical philosophy

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