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L'Esprit des Lumières

This brilliant and concise book from internationally renowned historian Tzvetan Todorov establishes the Enlightenment as the philosophical cornerstone of the modern world and argues that the wisdom of those times is just as relevant today Although our liberal democracies are the offspring of the Enlightenment they also illustrate the ways in which its ideas can be distorted and. I don t think I can praise this work highly enoughIn a mere 150 pages with wide spacing Todorov examines what we mean by the Enlightenment what it meant to the people articulating its ideals in the 18th century and the differing arguments they raised in their discussions and essays on the new ideas arising from the collapse of the Middle Ages the Renaissance the rise of science developments in technology the Reformation which resulted in at least a further two types of Christianity there were already two East and West etc and the implications of those developments All of this is done in simple lucid prose beautifully rendered by the translator Gila Walker The modern world is one of the conseuences as wellSome Conservatives usually of the extreme type both secular and religious advocate openly or snidely suggest that the many bad things one can find in today s society have their origins in the Enlightenment They imply that we need to move away from these corrupting ideas perhaps they want to return to the purity of the feudal Middle Ages Todorov reminds us that such thinkers are grossly mistaken and that there is much to cherish and hold fast to as a result of the many dissertations provided in the Age of Enlightenment He also examines modern Enlightenment distortions and their misapplications such as can be found in scientism individualism racial desacralisation loss of meaning and wholesale relativism None of these are conducted in the true spirit of the Enlightenment and its core values which he examines in five chapters one each on autonomy secularism truth humanity and universality All of these ualities are certainly what we would all characterise as Western values and ideals and in a sense without them we have no real identityIt is perhaps sad that we need to defend these values but it would be a serious mistake to simply disregard them or to denigrate them As Todorov points out at the end the process of defending these ideals is an interminable one a task we need to take up willingly every day This is not to say that there may be dangers in the process all the reason for having clear ideas about what we are on about This little book is a perfect starting point Read it

Download ¸ PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB Ä Tzvetan Todorov

Perverted People living in these democracies today are often baffled by a host of phenomena which they don't know how to judge globalisation and media omnipotence state sponsored torture and lies moralism and the right of intervention the domination of economics and the triumph of technology Is it possible to distinguish between the Enlightenment' legitimate and illegitimate h. Despite being little over one hundred and fifty pages in length In Defence of the Enlightenment offers a surprisingly wide ranging critiue of the Enlightenment and in Tzvetan Todorov s view what it means for us as citizens of the modern world Todorov examines the writings of the main Enlightenment thinkers and links them to the present day arguing throughout that these ideas remain as relevant now as they were in the eighteenth centuryComing as it did in the wake of the global financial crisis and during a period in which right wing populist parties were starting to find their feet In Defence of the Enlightenment is a timely reminder of the ideas and morals that we as citizens of liberal democracies are sometimes guilty of taking for granted Todorov not only explains how much the modern world owes to the Enlightenment thinkers but also offers a vigorous defence of these values against those that even today uestion their worthTodorov also tackles the ways in which the Enlightenment s ideas have been distorted and perverted and by doing so both criticises those that dispute the period s achievements and the actors who have used its name to enslave and terrorise The sections dealing with these issues are particularly interesting but unfortunately far too short and their extension by the author would have been greatly appreciatedOverall however In Defence of the Enlightenment is an illuminating and thought provoking examination of a fascinating period of history one that resonates today as we continue to grapple with what it means to be citizens in a liberal modern forward thinking world

Tzvetan Todorov Ä 6 Read

Eirs We cannot learn lessons from the past unless we know how to relate them to the present In this brilliant and concise book internationally renowned historian TT shows that what remains relevant to us today of the 18th century debates is their spirit as expressed in a number of crucial principles and values 'It is by criticizing the Enlightenment that we remain faithful to i. A very short dense yet highly readable book that is well worth picking up As the title implies this is not an in depth exposition or analysis of enlightenment philosophy Rather it is a polemic an argument for the importance of enlightenment ideas in the world today Along the way Todorov provides many original perhaps provocative and always thought provoking insights into what enlightenment philosophy really means along with a litany of criticisms of the enlightenment to which he provides a vigorous response Maybe I enjoyed this book so much precisely because Todorov provides such a compelling case for much of what I believe and articulates it so well But considering how central the enlightenment is in modern discourse I would recommend this book to anyone with a modicum of curiosity about contemporary political and moral thinking Side note I heard an interview with Todorov on Philosophy Bites which got me interested in the book When I went to find it I was shocked to discover I had to order this from UK for some bizarre reason it s not available in US


10 thoughts on “L'Esprit des Lumières

  1. says:

    I don't think I can praise this work highly enoughIn a mere 150 pages with wide spacing Todorov examines what we mean by the Enlightenment what it meant to the people articulating its ideals in the 18th century and the differing arguments they raised in their discussions and essays on the new ideas arising from the collapse of the Middle Ages the Renaissance the rise of science developments in technology the R

  2. says:

    Original review here almost bought this book when it came out in December 2009 but I had read at least one review which was not very positive I wish I could find whatever I had read to see whether I agree with it I have tried but I failedI h

  3. says:

    35 stars More a Beginner's Guide to the Enlightenment than anything else I was hoping it would directly engage with specific aspects of contemporary culture but it was broader and general in scope and aimed at a historical overview of Enlightenment philosophies Not a waste reading it by any means but not what I was hoping for The traditional adversaries of the Enlightenment – obscurantism arbitrary authority and fanaticism

  4. says:

    Not a perfect book Todorov sets up easily dismissed strawman versions of the internet's potential and actual impact on human co operation and the space program's relevance to our fate as a species There's also a sense that his vision

  5. says:

    This book is a relatively easy reading and a very good defense of the enlightenment ideas According to Todorov enlightenment is not a comprehensive or a single project as it is often proclaimed to be Enlightenment is rationalist and empiricist emphasizing universality and particularity it is a open debate rather than an achieved consensus In

  6. says:

    Despite being little over one hundred and fifty pages in length In Defence of the Enlightenment offers a surprisingly wide ranging critiue of the Enlightenment and in Tzvetan Todorov's view what it means for us as citizens of the mode

  7. says:

    A very enjoyable and very uotable short book I dont remember being taught about the enlightenment in school to be honest i wasnt paying much attention but what the enlightenment gave us in terms of critical thought and the freedom to express those thoughts should be a key part of our education The importance of a plurality of ideas was somet

  8. says:

    A very short dense yet highly readable book that is well worth picking up As the title implies this is not an in depth exposition or analysis of enlightenment philosophy Rather it is a polemic an argument for the importance of enlightenment ideas in the world today Along the way Todorov provides many original perhaps provocative and always thought provoking insights into what enlightenment philosophy really means along with a litany of crit

  9. says:

    This is a good analysis and summary of the values of the enlightenment and its enduring influence today Tzvetan Todorov argues passionately that these central values and concerns are still relevant still valuable and still worth defending both against anti enlightenment forces and those who have distorted the k

  10. says:

    An interesting read relating the ideas of the enlightenment to modern day life Even the points I disagree with are elouently put forward and understandable so it isn't a pain even if you have conflicting views Not that such a thing should be a reason not to read but for some it is so anyway Only one chapter was really a slog and it's very small I read it in one sitting

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