The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers

10 thoughts on “The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers

  1. Erik Graff Erik Graff says:

    I've always been attracted to books which challenge the received truths taught in the public schools I have attended We've all the tendency to view the past in terms of the present be it from our personal or social histories Becker particularly challenges albeit indirectly many of the myths held dear by Americans about our founders and their beliefs

  2. AC AC says:

    Just gave this a cursory read it is not interesting to me Better accounts of the thought of the period in Bury's The Idea of Progress and such books Becker's view that climate of opinion plays such a dominating role is doubtful it may seem to be what makes Dante or Thomas nearly unreadable though they are not in fact unreadable when one reads them slowly; but then if that were so one couldn't explain the utter clarity one gets from reading Plato where there is no obscuring climate of opinion to blame for one's incomprehension The problem with Thomas and Dante is simply that their presuppositions which can be grasped and rationally apprehended if one has the reuisite philosophical background are unfamiliar to the modern reader But so what?The broader implication though I didn't read the volume closely enough to be sure that the author actually does draw it viz that 18th cen rationalism is ultimately a matter of faith is either false or trite It is trite if it means to suggest that rationalism rests on unproven metaphysical assumptions Of course it does The foundations of rationalism in Plato for example are the Ideas which Plato states repeatedly are merely hypotheses just as the Categories of Kant are themselves merely hypothesized; that is there is no deduction of them In fact it is precisely in this context of discussing the theory of Ideas that Plato develops the so called 'hypothetical method' in the Meno the Phaedo and in Republic If on the other hand the claim is that rationalism has no rational basis that it is pari passu the same as Christian Faith then this statement is imo simply nonsense

  3. Lauren Albert Lauren Albert says:

    Not a dispassionate intellectual history but rather a strongly felt and well articulated argument that the Eighteenth Century was not an age of reason but rather the time when philosophers demolished the Heavenly City of St Augustine only to rebuild it with up to date materials Like the later Wicked Company which I recently reviewed Becker points out the contradictions in the supposedly tolerant and open minded positions of the philosophes They defended toleration valiantly but could with difficulty tolerate priests Their faith like the faith by which any age lives was born of their experience and their needs; and since their experience and their needs were in deadly conflict with the traditional and the established and still powerful philosophy of church and state the articles of their faith were at every point opposed to those of the established philosophy

  4. Jonathan Norton Jonathan Norton says:

    From 1931 this is an example of what we might call Enlightenment Dismantling the style of intellectual history that tries to undermine glib rationalist generalities by putting the 18th century in to context showing the religious origin of various strands etc John Gray has now found his niche purveying a pop version

  5. Jason Farley Jason Farley says:

    What a remarkable and helpful little book You could read it in a couple of sittings But it is so meaty that I would recommend reading it slow

  6. Alex Stroshine Alex Stroshine says:

    A brief blistering book that deconstructs and dismantles the typical Enlightenment narrative that the Age of Reason thoroughly expelled superstition and religion; rather Enlightenment thinkers merely replaced Christianity with their own ideal utopia This is witnessed in the optimism surrounding the idea of progress just like Christians set their hopes on Heaven the Enlightenment confidently declared that humanity was always improving The French Revolution virulently anti Christian created its own priests and holy days etcIn the end the Enlightenment is just as guilty of dogmatism as the Middle Ages This is a book I will need to re read especially if I ever work through some of the philosophers freuently mentioned by Carl Becker such as Hume Voltaire and Diderot

  7. Dirk Nachbar Dirk Nachbar says:

    good read could make arguments a bit clearer

  8. Graychin Graychin says:

    The goal of philosophy in the eighteenth century was to dismantle corrupted and corrupting civic and religious institutions and to reshape the individual and society according to objective standards of nature In place of St Augustine’s defunct city of God the philosophers would build a heavenly city of their own presided over not by an enthroned Christ and his saints but by glorified Reason and the immaculate judgment of enlightened posterityIn The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth Century Philosophers Carl Becker former professor of history at Cornell University deceased in 1945 argues that although the animating spirit of the period is still to a degree felt today the philosophers of the Enlightenment were actually nearer in their presuppositions and ideals to medieval precursors than to ourselves I think he’s only half successful in demonstrating this but the book hardly suffers for it thanks to the author’s nimble synthesis and pleasant William Jamesian proseThe four lectures that make up the book were originally delivered at Yale in the early 1930s The first and fourth of them haven’t aged so well Becker’s sense that religion has definitively spent itself as a moral and social force in the West seems premature and weakens the first lecture In the fourth his speculations about the future history of the Communist Revolution and what it may come to mean for future generations when its lessons are generalized across western society also feels flatBecker’s second and third lectures – the best parts of the book – focus on the eighteenth century’s radically revised notions of nature and history Nature in the broad sense of the term encompassing mankind and the material order as a whole is no longer approached by way of metaphysics It is no longer things as God intended them to be but as they are not due to sin and the devil Instead nature becomes things as they actually are and as they reveal themselves to empirical examination History severed from sacred myth and the burden of a transcendent unified narrative becomes an object of critical inuiryBy looking to nature things as they are to discover the essential elements of human identity and by reading history as a long cautionary tale what aspects of society do not invite revision? The past for Enlightenment thinkers becomes a story of mostly Greek curiosity smothered under two thousand years of superstition Nature encountered in the unfamiliar cultures of the Americas Asia and the South Pacific shows us the arbitrariness of our own institutions and customs What’s to stop us from turning the whole cart over and starting again? God may not condemn us for our failure but posterity will honor our successThere are problems of course If there is no God and if man is inescapably a product of nature then Christianized western culture is a product of nature too It could hardly be otherwise How can we therefore accuse it of deforming man? Whatever is must be according to nature And then by what measure is any cultural status uo or any particular innovation to be judged? Becker teases out these ironies rather effectively “They denied that miracles ever happened” he says of the philosophers “but believed in the perfectibility of the human race”

  9. Coyle Coyle says:

    An enjoyable little book about the thought of secular 18th century writers on heaven Becker writes well speaks since these are transcribed lectures in a clear and compelling tone leaving me in the rare position of wishing that a non fiction book was longer Becker's main argument is that for all their atheism and anti Christian even intentionally anti Christian beliefs the rationalist philosophers of the 18th century had just as much hope in a redeeming future as any fundamentalist Christian Also useful was Becker's description of the fundamental beliefs of the Enlightenment thinkers who held that1 Man is not innately depraved as against the Christian doctrine of original sin;2 life is its own end in this world we do not need a heaven to define the value of life on earth Becker's main point is that an idealized future takes the role of heaven for these philosophers;3 Man is capable of perfecting a good life on earth through reason and practical experience again against the Christian idea that the good life will only be achieved in heaven or at least only when heaven is brought to earth at the end of the world;4the good life can be achieved only by letting go of supersitition and oppression which are embodied by Christianity especially by the Catholic church according to these philosophersAlso interesting are Becker's predections that someday we might look at Soviet Communist ideas the same way we in his day look at the ideas of these Enlightenment philosophers that is despite the horrors and bloodshed their ideas lead to when applied to society we will refuse to let them go and hold on to them as if they are absolutely necessary whatever their conseuencesOverall an excellent and worthwhile little volume

  10. Cypress Butane Cypress Butane says:

    This book is about Eighteenth century philosophers with Enlightenment ideals coming out of the superstitious times where religion ruled trying with varying degrees of self consciousness to replace the sovereignty of God religion and the afterlife as the defining motivations teleology and philosophical underpinnings of mankind's development and artistic integrity The book has a lot of good information on this thesis especially on how certain philosophers were actually trying to not just replace God and religion but turn new secular filler philosophies into religious placeholders so that they could hold the exact same place As in trying to deify concepts that might fill the gap like knowledge philosophy revolutionary ideals even posterity It's a uick read and even though the copy I had was falling apart while I read it it was worth a reading and I highlighted a bunch of pages for future reference It has a pretty specific thesis and I picked it up because I was looking for something to relate to a theme in my writing of Angels interacting in a Sci fi scenario I wanted some background story in history to set up a kind of meta narrative of how the fall of the Angels and the fall of man is still an incomplete story and this book helped fill in some ideas in that concept along with another book I'm reading at the moment called 'Natural Supernaturalism' by MH Abrams which is amazing

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The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers ❰Reading❯ ➶ The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers Author Carl Lotus Becker – Based on the Storrs lectures delivered at Yale University A distinguished American historian challenges the belief that 18th century was essentially modern in its temper In crystalline prose Carl L Be Based City of the Eighteenth-Century ePUB ´ on the Storrs City of PDF/EPUB ¶ lectures delivered at Yale University A distinguished American historian challenges the belief that th century was essentially modern in its The Heavenly Kindle - temper In crystalline prose Carl L Becker demonstrates that the period commonly described as the Age of Reason was in fact very far from that Heavenly City of Kindle Ø Voltaire Hume Diderot Locke were living in a medieval world They demolished the Heavenly City of St Augustine only to rebuild it with up to Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Kindle - date materials PrefaceClimates of OpinionThe Laws of Nature of Nature's GodThe New History Philosophy Teaching by ExampleThe Uses of Posterity.

  • Paperback
  • 196 pages
  • The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers
  • Carl Lotus Becker
  • English
  • 04 March 2016
  • 9780300101508

About the Author: Carl Lotus Becker

Carl City of the Eighteenth-Century ePUB ´ Lotus Becker was City of PDF/EPUB ¶ an American historian He is best known for The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth Century Philosophers four lectures on The Heavenly Kindle - The Enlightenment delivered at Yale University His assertion that philosophies in the Age of Reason relied far upon Christian assumptions than they cared to admit Heavenly City of Kindle Ø has been influential but has also been much attackedCornell has recognized h.