The Enlightenment Roy Porter Summary

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Traditionally, "The Enlightenment" has been associated with France, America, and Scotland rather than Britain, which, strangely enough, is thought not to have had an Enlightenment to speak of. Roy Porter effectively upsets this view in Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World. Porter's general concern is with "the interplay of activists, ideas, and society," and to this end he examines innovations in social, political, scientific, psychological, and theological discourse. The key figures (the "enlightened thinkers") read like a Who's Who of the 17th and 18th centuries--Newton, Locke, Bernard de Mandeville, Erasmus Darwin, Priestley, Paine, Bentham, and Britain's "premier enlightenment couple" Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, as well as the men who helped popularize and disseminate their ideas, such as Addison, Steele, Defoe, Pope, and Sterne. The book is peppered with brilliant quotes, and although it covers such vast ground in a rapid and sometimes breathless manner, Porter just about manages to hold it all together. There is a massive light that binges itself…show more content…
The philosophes established an casual society of men of letters who collaborated on a loosely defined project of Enlightenment. Represented by the project of the Encyclopedia. However, there are important centers of Enlightenment outside of France as well. There is a well-known Scottish Enlightenment (key figures are Frances Hutcheson, Adam Smith, David Hume, Thomas Reid), a German Enlightenment (die Aufklärung, key figures of which include Christian Wolff, Moses Mendelssohn, G.E. Lessing and Immanuel Kant), and there are also other centers of Enlightenment and Enlightenment thinkers scattered throughout Europe and America in the eighteenth
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