The Dream of Enlightenment

  • by Anthony Gottlieb
  • Narrated by Derek Perkins
  • 10 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The author of the classic The Dream of Reason vividly explains the rise of modern thought.
Western philosophy is now two-and-a-half millennia old, but much of it came in just two staccato bursts, each lasting only about 150 years. In his landmark survey of Western philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance, The Dream of Reason, Anthony Gottlieb documented the first burst, which came in the Athens of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Now, in The Dream of Enlightenment, Gottlieb expertly navigates a second great explosion of thought, taking us to northern Europe in the wake of its wars of religion and the rise of Galilean science. In a relatively short period - from the early 1640s to the eve of the French Revolution - Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, and Hume all made their mark. The Dream of Enlightenment tells their story and that of the birth of modern philosophy.
As Gottlieb explains, all these men were amateurs: none had much to do with any university. They tried to fathom the implications of the new science and of religious upheaval, which led them to question traditional teachings and attitudes. What does the advance of science entail for our understanding of ourselves and for our ideas of God? How should a government deal with religious diversity - and what, actually, is government for? Such questions remain our questions, which is why Descartes, Hobbes, and the others are still pondered today.
Yet it is because we still want to hear them that we can easily get these philosophers wrong. It is tempting to think they speak our language and live in our world; but to understand them properly, we must step back into their shoes. Gottlieb puts listeners in the minds of these frequently misinterpreted figures, elucidating the history of their times and the development of scientific ideas while engagingly explaining their arguments and assessing their legacy in lively prose.
With chapters focusing on Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Pierre Bayle, Leibniz, Hume, Rousseau, and Voltaire - and many walk-on parts - The Dream of Enlightenment creates a sweeping account of what the Enlightenment amounted to, and why we are still in its debt.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fantastic book, left me wanting more

The chapters on Descartes, Locke and Hume were terrific, but the author kept teasing me with references to Montesquieu and Voltaire, so I was disappointed they did not get their own chapters.
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- Greg Gauthier

The Dream of Enlightenment

This is an excellent and informative study of the great philosophers of that era. The narrator is very good, although it is somewhat distracting when he pronounces Aristotle as 'Air - istotle'.
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- peter

Book Details

  • Release Date: 30-08-2016
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio