The Enlightenment, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Armed with the insights of the scientific revolution, the men of the Enlightenment set out to free mankind from its age-old cocoon of pessimism and superstition and establish a more reasonable world of experiment and progress.

Yet by the 1760s, this optimism about man and society had almost evaporated.

In the works of Rousseau, Kant and Goethe, there was discernible a new inner voice, and an awareness of individual uniqueness which had eluded their more self-confident predecessors.

The stage was set for the revolutionary crisis and the rise of Romanticism.

In this book, Norman Hampson follows through certain dominant themes in the Enlightenment, and describes the contemporary social and political climate, in which ideas could travel from the salons of Paris to the court of Catherine the Great - but less easily from a master to his servant.

On such vexed issues as the role of ideas in the "rise of the middle class" he provides a new and realistic approach linking intellectual and social history.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: European history
  • ISBN: 9780140137453

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This overview of eighteenth century thought highlights the development of ideas from 1715 through the revolutionary year of 1789. With appendices on the writers and main works of the enlightenment this book provides a useful guide to the thought of this era of change in Europe. The enlightenment project to open the minds of men to the power of reason is displayed by highlighting the important themes of the century. It discusses the social and political climate in which these themes arose and in doing so provides a practical basic intellectual history of the era.