Released on 09 May 2013
How the modern Western view of the world was born
In The Enlightenment, cultural and intellectual historian Anthony Pagden explains how and why the ideal of a universal, global, and cosmopolitan society became a central part of the Western imagination in the ferment of the Enlightenment – and how these ideas have done battle with an inward-looking, tradition-orientated view of the world ever since.
Cosmopolitanism is an ancient creed; but in its modern form it was a product of the Enlightenment attempt to create a new “science of man”, based upon a vision of humanity made up of autonomous individuals, free from all the constraints imposed by custom, prejudice, and religion. The conclusion was that despite the many tribes and nations into which humanity was divided there was only one “human nature”, and that the final destiny of the species could only be the creation of one universal, cosmopolitan society.
This new “human science” provided the philosophical grounding of the modern world. It has been the inspiration behind the League of Nations, the United Nations and the European Union. Without it, international law, global justice, and human rights legislation would be unthinkable. As Anthony Pagden argues in this book, it is a legacy well worth preserving – and one that might yet come to inherit the earth.
Anthony Pagden is Professor of Political Science and History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His last book, Worlds at War: The 2,500 Year Struggle Between East and West, was also published by Oxford University Press and was described by the Spectator as “exemplary”.
978-0-19-966093-3 | £20.00 in hardback | 9 May 2013
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