Introduction The Enlightenment—Questions of Geography

in Placing the Enlightenment

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780226904054
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226904078 | DOI:
Introduction The Enlightenment—Questions of Geography

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This book is about understanding the Enlightenment—or to use one parallel term among many, the Age of Reason—geographically. It is, in several senses, an argument about and extended review of the Enlightenment's “where,” about how one may “place” the Enlightenment, and about why it matters that one thinks about the Enlightenment in terms of geography. For its contemporaries it was then, and for modern scholars it is now, an intellectual movement distinguished by critical, analytic, and scientific concerns and by claims that the power of reason could improve the human condition. Rather than being a fixed set of beliefs, the Enlightenment—as a moment and a movement—was a way of thinking critically in and about the world. Ancient authority and tradition were open to challenge. Philosophical inquiry would yield useful practical ends; science social benefit.

Keywords: Enlightenment; Age of Reason; geography; reason; human condition; authority; tradition; philosophical inquiry

Chapter.  8103 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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