- Format: Paperback
- ISBN: 978-0-7190-6741-9
- Pages: 256
- Price: £16.99
- Published Date: January 2004
This book offers a critical survey of religious change and its causes in eighteenth-century Europe, and constitutes a challenge to the accepted views in traditional Enlightenment studies. Focusing on Enlightenment Italy, France and England, it illustrates how the canonical view of eighteenth-century religious change has in reality been constructed upon scant evidence and assumption, in particular the idea that the thought of the enlightened led to modernity. For, despite a lack of evidence, one of the fundamental assumptions of Enlightenment studies has been the assertion that there was a vibrant Deist movement which formed the "intellectual solvent" of the eighteenth century. The central claim of this book is that the immense ideological appeal of the traditional birth-of-modernity myth has meant that the actual lack of Deists has been glossed over, and a quite misleading historical view has become entrenched.
Preface: The Enlightenment and modernity The rationale of this book The structure of this book 1. The myth of Enlightenment deism The myth of the deist movement The deist myth and modern historians The myth and the historical record The myth and the construction of modernity Historians, religion and the historical record The origins of Enlightenment anticlericalism John Toland, Pierre Bayle and the problem of influence Enlightenment from within or without Christianity? The elite and the written record Scaremongering, public opinion and the construction of the deist scare 3. The English deist movement: a case study in the construction of a myth Post-restoration context. Deists and dissent confused John Toland and Christianity not mysterious Early modern politico-religious propagandists and modern historians Dissent and Enlightenment 4. France: the revolt of democratic Christianity and the rise of public opinion Bourbons, Huguenots and Jansenists The nouvelles ecclesiastiques and Bourbon miscalculation The revolt of the 1750s Popular victory against the Jesuits and the call for toleration The final decline of the absolutist dream 5. Italy: Roman 'tyranny' and radical Catholic opposition Jansenism and Catholic Enlightenment Anti-curial polemic and its context Regalism and Jansenism The temporal imperative: Roman theology and politics fused Radical Jansenism 1770s-1790s 6. The 'public sphere' and the hidden life of ideas The hidden life of ideas Public opinion and the top-down model of intellectual change Anachronism and toleration Appendix - Indicative bibliography of Protestant thought on natural religion Selected bibliography
S.J. Barnett is Subject Leader in History of Ideas, University of Kingston-Upon-Thames