Catalogue


Human nature, cultural diversity, and the French Enlightenment [electronic resource] /
Henry Vyverberg.
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, 1989.
description
xii, 223 p.
ISBN
019505864X (Cloth)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, 1989.
isbn
019505864X (Cloth)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
general note
Title from e-book title screen (viewed October 16, 2007).
catalogue key
7372316
 
Bibliography: p. [207]-216.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1990-04:
Earlier in his career, Vyverberg did an excellent job in demonstrating that contrary to popular belief the leading thinkers of the French Enlightenment could be quite pessimistic concerning the limits of human reason. Now Vyverberg performs a similar task, again running counter to present-day assumptions, in showing that there was a greater interest in the varieties of human experience and beliefs than most students of the Enlightenment have maintained. His argument is clear and documeted by abundant references to important texts of the period. Vyverberg points out again and again that it was cultural diversity that fascinated the philosophes, and not so-called notions of the universality of human nature. It is, indeed, by contrasting European culture to other cultures in time and space that the philosophes found significant support for their campaign on behalf of tolerance and freedom. This solid book contains some of the most sensible intellectual history to appear on the French Enlightenment since pursuit of popular culture captured the attention of many scholars in the 20 years. The book represents a healthy return to the careful examination of the history of ideas. Vyverberg overturns popular misconceptions with solid proof and great enthusiasm for the Enlightenment. Recommended to students at all levels. -V. G. Wexler, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Represents a healthy return to the careful examination of the history of ideas. Vyverberg overturns popular misconceptions with solid proof and great enthusiasm for the Enlightenment. Recommended to students at all levels."--Choice
"Represents a healthy return to the careful examination of the history ofideas. Vyverberg overturns popular misconceptions with solid proof and greatenthusiasm for the Enlightenment. Recommended to students at alllevels."--Choice
"The scholarship...is firm....Rewarding. To anyone who wishes to become acquainted with the multiplicity of Enlightenment thinking, it provides an erudite introduction."--American Historical Review
"The scholarship...is firm....Rewarding. To anyone who wishes to becomeacquainted with the multiplicity of Enlightenment thinking, it provides anerudite introduction."--American Historical Review
"The scholarship...is firm....Rewarding. To anyone who wishes to become acquainted with the multiplicity of Enlightenment thinking, it provides an erudite introduction."--American Historical Review"Represents a healthy return to the careful examination of the history of ideas. Vyverberg overturns popular misconceptions with solid proof and great enthusiasm for the Enlightenment. Recommended to students at all levels."--Choice
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 1990
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
Foremost among eighteenth-century European thinkers are the French philosophers Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Diderot who have left indelible marks on the pattern of modern intellectual history. Their crowning collaborative achievement was the Encyclopedie, a vast work which influenced generations of educated Europeans. Vyverberg's work reassesses several ideas long considered to be the central tenets of Enlightenment philosophy and challenges the prevailing view of theEnlightenment's supposedly rigid conception of human nature.
Long Description
In this work, Henry Vyverberg traces the evolution and consequences of a crucial idea in French Enlightenment thought--the idea of human nature. Human nature was commonly seen as a broadly universal, unchanging entity, though perhaps modifiable by geographical, social, and historical factors. Enlightenment empiricism suggested a degree of cultural diversity that has often been underestimated in studies of the age. Evidence here is drawn from Diderot's celebrated Encyclopedia and from a vast range of writing by such Enlightenment notables as Voltaire, Rousseau, and d'Holbach. Vyverberg explains not only the age's undoubted fascination with uniformity in human nature, but also its acknowledgment of significant limitations on that uniformity. He shows that although the Enlightenment's historical sense was often blinkered by its notions of a uniform human nature, there were also cracks in this concept that developed during the Enlightenment itself.
Main Description
In this work, Henry Vyverberg traces the evolution and consequences of a crucial idea in French Enlightenment thought--the idea of human nature. Human nature was commonly seen as a broadly universal, unchanging entity, though perhaps modifiable by geographical, social, and historical factors. Enlightenment empiricism suggested a degree of cultural diversity that has often been underestimated in studies of the age. Evidence here is drawn from Diderot's celebrated Encyclopedia and from a vast range of writing by such Enlightenment notables as Voltaire, Rousseau, and d'Holbach. Vyverbergexplains not only the age's undoubted fascination with uniformity in human nature, but also its acknowledgment of significant limitations on that uniformity. He shows that although the Enlightenment's historical sense was often blinkered by its notions of a uniform human nature, there were alsocracks in this concept that developed during the Enlightenment itself.
Main Description
Vyverberg traces the evolution and consequences of a crucial idea in French Enlightenment thought--the idea of human nature. He explains not only the age's undoubted fascination with uniformity in human nature, but also its acknowledgement of significant limitations on that uniformity.
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 3
From Nature to Human Naturep. 20
Nature as Fact or Normp. 20
Natural Law and the Laws of Naturep. 24
Human Naturep. 28
The Uniformity of Human Naturep. 34
The Questionp. 34
Reason and Passionp. 36
Instinctual Ethics and Religionp. 40
Uniformity Affirmedp. 46
The Diversity of Human Beingsp. 53
The Role of Experiencep. 53
Experiential Religion and Ethicsp. 55
Uniformity Challengedp. 58
Physical and Moral Influences on National Characterp. 64
Voyages and Travelp. 64
Climatep. 66
Institutions and Individualsp. 71
National Characterp. 76
Understanding Cultural Diversityp. 88
The Questionp. 88
Provisional Generalizationsp. 90
A Cultural Miscellanyp. 98
Russians and Othersp. 98
Jewsp. 103
Blacks and Native Americansp. 107
The Mildly Exotic Eastp. 116
The Islamic Worldp. 116
Indiap. 119
China and the Chinese Sagep. 121
The Waning of the Chinese Voguep. 126
Historical Diversityp. 136
The Place of Historyp. 136
Voltaire and Historyp. 139
History in the Encyclopediap. 146
The Case of Ancient Greecep. 155
Greece in the Enlightenmentp. 155
Greece in the Encyclopediap. 161
The Case of the Middle Agesp. 174
An Enlightenment Consensus?p. 174
The Middle Ages in the Encyclopediap. 185
Conclusionp. 194
Bibliographyp. 207
Indexp. 217
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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