Conclusion: radical no more

Jeffrey R. Wigelsworth

in Deism in Enlightenment England

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780719078729
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703304 | DOI:
Conclusion: radical no more

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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Steven Shapin described the interlocking spheres of intellectual enquiry in early modern England as theology, politics and natural philosophy. These overlapped because they were connected in legitimations, justifications and criticisms, especially in the use of conceptions of God and nature to comment upon political order. This chapter presents these relationships by reconstructing the intertwined erudite endeavours of John Toland, Anthony Collins, Matthew Tindal, Thomas Chubb and Thomas Morgan. At this point the perceived threat of deism is acknowledged to have declined in Britain. Furthermore, this chapter explores the generally held view of English deists. The deists were not modern. Nonetheless, generations of Enlightenment historians have positioned them as the founding fathers of the movement leading to the French Revolution and modernity. If the portrait of deism is accepted, then a reassessment of deism in England is necessary, especially in light of the characterizations of the English Enlightenment as clerical and strongly religious.

Keywords: Enlightenment; Britain; French Revolution; deism; modernity

Chapter.  2445 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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