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Natural Law and Toleration in the Early Enlightenment, Hardback Book

Natural Law and Toleration in the Early Enlightenment Hardback

Edited by Jon (St Hugh's College, Oxford) Parkin, Timothy (University of York) Stanton

Part of the Proceedings of the British Academy series


The early enlightenment has been seen as an epoch-making period in the development of modern Europe, marking the beginnings of the transition from a 'religious' to an essentially 'secular' understanding of human relations and generating in the process new accounts of the relationship between religion and politics, in which the idea of toleration figured centrally.

In this volume of essays, leading scholars in the field challenge that view and explore the ways inwhich some of the most important discussions of toleration in the western tradition were shaped by understandings of natural theology and natural law.

Far from representing a shift to non-religious ways of thinking about the world, the essays reveal the extent to which early enlightenment discussions oftoleration presupposed a world-view in which God-given natural law established the boundaries between church and state and provided the primary point of reference for understanding claims to religious freedom.

The book offers significant new interpretations of the relationship between natural theology and toleration in the works of Samuel Pufendorf, John Locke, G.

W. Leibniz, Christian Thomasius, Jean Barbeyrac, and Francis Hutcheson.

These interpretations suggest sometimes extensive revisions to contemporary thinking about these works and to the assumptions about the early enlightenment and its role in shaping liberal modernity it embodies.

By carefully examining the arguments of these writers intheir original contexts, without the interference of modern categories, and by setting those arguments in sequence, this book reveals an important transformation in modern thought, one that is yet continuous with the past and which poses some pointed questions for both the present and thefuture.



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