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The Enlightenment and Religion The Myths of Modernity by S. Barnett

The Enlightenment and Religion The Myths of Modernity


The Enlightenment and Religion The Myths of Modernity by S. Barnett

This title offers a critical survey of religious change and its causes in eighteenth-century Europe, and constitutes a radical challenge to the accepted views in traditional Enlightenment studies. Focusing on Enlightenment Italy, France and England, it illustrates how the canonical view of eighteenth-century religious change has in reality been constructed upon scant evidence and assumption, in particular the idea that the thought of the enlightened led to modernity. For despite a lack of evidence, one of the fundamental assumptions of Enlightenment studies has been the assertion that there was a vibrant Deist movement that formed the intellectual solvent of the eighteenth century. The central claim of this book is that the immense ideological appeal of the traditional birth-of-modernity myth has meant that the actual lack of Deists has been glossed over, and a quite misleading historical view has become entrenched.


'This book makes an important case for rethinking the relationship between the Enlightenment and religion. It contributes to a new understanding of familiar material by treating it in an original and stimulating manner and will be valuable to both specialists and general readers.'
Jane Shaw, New College, Oxford

About the Author

S.J. Barnett is Subject Leader in History of Ideas, University of Kingston-Upon-Thames -- .

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Book Info

Publication date

29th January 2004


S. Barnett

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Manchester University Press


256 pages


European history
Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900
History of religion
History of ideas



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