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  1. Darwin8u Darwin8u says:

    Of all the audacities of science the most daring is the attempt to fling its measuring rods around the stars, to subject those scintillating beauties to nocturnal spying, to analyze their constituents across a billion miles, and to confine their motions to man made logic and laws Mind and the heavens are the poles of our wonder and study, and the greatest wonder is mind legislating for the firmamentWill Durant, The Age of Voltaire Volume 9 of Durant s Story of Civilization focuses on the pOf all the audacities of science the most daring is the attempt to fling its measuring rods around the stars, to subject those scintillating beauties to nocturnal spying, to analyze their constituents across a billion miles, and to confine their motions to man made logic and laws Mind and the heavens are the poles of our wonder and study, and the greatest wonder is mind legislating for the firmamentWill Durant, The Age of Voltaire Volume 9 of Durant s Story of Civilization focuses on the period of the Age of Enlightenment surrounding Voltaire It primarily deals with the philosophy, religion, arts, wars, science and politics of the period between 1715 and 1756 in France, Britain, and Germany I gave it five stars because so many interesting people, philosophy, and ideas can be found in this period One difficulty with this volume was it lead me to buy, in reverse order 1 Rameau s Nephew D Alembert s Dream2 Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely3 Voltaire A Very Short Introduction4 Joseph Andrews Shamela5 The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling6 Selected Letters by Mary Montagu7 Selected Letters by Horace Walpole8 Lord Chesterfield s Letters9 Memoirs of Duc de Saint Simon, 1691 1709 Presented to the King10 Memoirs of Duc de Saint Simon, 1710 1715 The Bastards Triumphant11 Memoirs of Duc de Saint Simon, 1715 1723 Fatal Weakness12 Political Writings by Pierre Bayle13 Various Thoughts on Occasion of a Comet by Pierre BayleSo, I guess this is a new way for me to judge a history book How many new books does it directly inspire me to worm into my library I also now own some French coins of Pierre Bayle, Roger Bacon, Voltaire, and Montaigne, but that is a whole other French rabbit hole caused primarily by my last couple weeks floating in Volume 9.Anyway, I enjoyed the book Durant still doesn t appear tired of his subject This is his third book related to the enlightenment and the only soft part of it and it s probablyexperimental than soft is the last chapter s dialogue between Voltaire and Pope Benedict It was good, but a bit too abstract for a Universal History But I love it, so like all my loves, I will overlook its small faults because I hope for my own to disappear in time


  2. Roy Lotz Roy Lotz says:

    I do not wish to belittle reason, but it should be the servant of love, not of pride With this volume we reach the third chapter in the Age of Reason, culminating in the figure of Voltaire, who died a decade before the French Revolution The Age of Voltaire is somewhat different from the preceding volumes in that it isn t simply a narrative history of Europe during a given time period, divided by country and topic, but instead structures itself around the life of one man Voltaire This prove I do not wish to belittle reason, but it should be the servant of love, not of pride With this volume we reach the third chapter in the Age of Reason, culminating in the figure of Voltaire, who died a decade before the French Revolution The Age of Voltaire is somewhat different from the preceding volumes in that it isn t simply a narrative history of Europe during a given time period, divided by country and topic, but instead structures itself around the life of one man Voltaire This proves to be an excellent organizational principle, since Voltaire touched nearly every aspect of life during that busy age.Voltaire grows up during the regency, after the death of Louis XIV but when Louis XIV was too young to govern, a time of economic boom and bust Voltaire writes some plays, poems, and satires, all with much wit and little wisdom, and ends up in the Bastille Though shut up, he doesn t shut up Eventually the French authorities tire of the impish scribbler and banish him to England There, Voltaire learns the language and explores the little island He has mixed feelings about Shakespeare but idolizes English liberties While in England, Durant introduces us to Alexander Pope, who thinks that all partial evil is universal good, despite his curved spine Henry Fielding, who writes of picaresque foundlings and founds the London police and Handel, whose hallelujah still brings us good tidings of great joy We also meet David Hume, who proves that nothing causes anything and that nobody exists but despite these limitations, people have an innate moral sense that causes them to act virtuously.After that, Voltaire moves back to France As usual, he writes satires with too much fire, and flees from Paris to settle down with his famous paramour, milie du Ch telet, who translates Newton while Voltaire attempts to be a scientist The translation succeeds, the experiments in both science and love fail, and Voltaire eventually moves on to Prussia on the invitation of Frederick the Great.Durant takes this opportunity to cover the life and music of Johann Sebastian Bach, who is neither witty nor fashionable, and consequently not famous during his lifetime, but whose works will nevertheless survive long after Voltaire s vanish Johann Sebastian s son Carl Philipp Emanuel hassuccess, and finds his way to the court of Frederick the Great, who plays at playing the flute Frederick, for his part, is philosopher enough to be a skeptic, skeptical enough to be a cynic, and cynical enough to be an effective king.Voltaire, like always, writessharply than he thinks, and loses his welcome at Frederick s court He eventually decides to move to Geneva and cultivate his garden.Durant here pauses the narrative to give us an overview of the advances in science and mathematics during this time Three people claim to discover oxygen, Scheele, Priestley, and Lavoisier, although it seems unfair that they get the credit, since our bodies discovered oxygen long before our minds caught up Euler, Lagrange, and d Alembert analyze, formulate, and discombobulate, and Laplace describes the system of the world while helping to develop the metric system Volta and Benjamin Franklin make some shocking discoveries, Lamark solves the mystery of the giraffe s neck, and Linnaeus helps with Voltaire s garden by giving flowers their Latin names.From there, Durant leads us to the philosophes These are the French intellectuals, not necessarily philosophers in the strict sense, who attempt to reform the world with reason They are not academics but public intellectuals, who write with grace and charm Many write against Christianity most philosophes are deists or atheists The outstanding work of the philosophes is the Encyclop die, a massive attempt to systematize and rationalize our understanding of the world Diderot, the editor of this project, is the most important of this crowd after Voltaire, although there are many others d Holbach, d Alembert, Helv tius, Grimm, and La Mettrie, who thinks men are just fancy machines.Durant is particularly drawn to the conflict between reason and religion he thinks it is the defining struggle of our age He rehearses the arguments for and against religion to exhaustion, and even appends an imaginary dialogue between Pope Benedict XIV and Voltaire to examine the argument onceAs usual, Durant shows himself a sloppy and unoriginal thinker when he ventures to put forward his own theories He seems to know this, which is probably why he hides his opinions in side remarks and an imaginary dialogue As far as can be gleaned from these comments and this dialogue, Durant thinks that the most compelling case for religion is its ability to scare the populace into acting morally and accepting the social order Personally I have serious doubts that religion improves morals and besides it seems tremendously condescending to believe that most people need supernatural terrors in order to do the right thing.In any case, as a history of Voltaire s life and his times, this book is excellent, one of the strongest books in the series Durant may not be much of a thinker, but he can certainly write


  3. Margitte Margitte says:

    Voltaire, oh Voltaire, how I love thee, let me count the waysQuotesProboty and honesty are chimeras with which people deck themselves, but which have no existence Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities In satirizing the Royal RegentWhen Philippe reduced by a half the horses in the royal stables, Arouet Voltaire quipped that he would have done better to dismiss half the asses that crowded his Highness s court Rebel, yes Satirist, for sure Voltaire, oh Voltaire, how I love thee, let me count the waysQuotesProboty and honesty are chimeras with which people deck themselves, but which have no existence Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities In satirizing the Royal RegentWhen Philippe reduced by a half the horses in the royal stables, Arouet Voltaire quipped that he would have done better to dismiss half the asses that crowded his Highness s court Rebel, yes Satirist, for sure Social justice warrior, supreme Theist, surprisingly Actually, he regarded himself as a DeistI may not believe that noses were made as convenient bridges for spectacles, but I am convinced that they were made to smell with When a young author knocked at the door of Les D lices 1757 , and introduced himself to Voltaire as a young atheist ready to serve him, Voltaire replied, And I have the honor to be a deist employer but though our professions are so opposed, I will give you supper today and work tomorrow I can make use of your arms, though not of your head Quote In conclusion the poet invites Uranie to make up her own mind on religion, in full trust that God, who has placed natural religion in your heart, will not resent a simple and candid spirit Believe that before his throne, in all times, in all places, the soul of the just man is precious believe that the modest Buddhist monk, the kindly Moslem dervish, findgrace in his eyes than a pitiless predestinarian Jansenist or an ambitious pope If you haven t visited Wikipedia yet, here it is Fran ois Marie Arouet 1694 1778 , known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit, his criticism of Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church to be replaced byand his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and separation of church and state.In fact, like Hume and Gibbon, Voltaire believed in exposing superstition, rejecting supernatural explanations, and identifying progress with the development of knowledge, manners, and arts.That s not all he had to say about the 17th century churches and plutocracy Aristocracy was on its way out Money replaced birth as a title to power The vultures moved in The rest of France suffered Voltaire was in vogue He understood.The European society was as vibrant as it was volatile at the time Thanks to Martin Luther 1483 1546 , an unusual birth rate existed A German jurist thought that the increase in northern Europe was largely due to the transfer of monks and nuns from celibacy to parentage by the Protestant Reformation, and urged that a statue be erected to Luther as the preserver of the speciesSeriously, there wasto it than that improvements in agriculture and transport, augmenting the supply and distribution of food, and advances in sanitation and medical treatment reducing the death rate in infants and adults.Nevertheless, Voltaire, as we already know, was a tour de force Mmmm, really His opponents thought he was a scroundel, wallowing in the dirtiest sink of freethinking Jacob Nicolas Moreau s satire, Nouveau M moire pour servir l histoire des cacouacs 1757The Cacouacs, said Moreau, were a species of barely human animals who carried a pouch of poison under their tongues when they spoke, this venom mingled with their words and polluted all the surrounding air.He called them atheists, anarchists, immoralists, egoists but it was the term cacouac that pained them most keenly it suggested the cacophony of quacking ducks, the bedlam of insane prattlers, sometimes as the word intended the odor of latrines Voltaire struggled to reply, but who can refute a smell He was a relatively peaceful rebellion until the age of 57, when, lo and behold, an earthquake hit Portugal and North Africa Thirty thousand people died Thirty churches and numerous homes were destroyed.A Portuguese Jesuit, Malagrida, explained that the quake, and the calamitous tidal wave that had followed it, were God s punishment for the vice that had prospored in Lisbon Why had so many holy priests and dedicated nuns perished in the quake and confligration The Moslems would have hailed the catastrophe as Allah s revenge upon the Portugues Inquisition, but the quake had destroyed Mosque of Al Mansur in Rabat Some Protestant dominees in London ascribed the disaster to divine reprobation of Catholic crimes against humanity but in the same year, November 19, an earthquake damaged fifteen hundred houses in Boston, Massachusetts, home of the Pilgrims and the Puritans William Warburton announced that the massacre in Lisbon displayed God s Glory in its fairest colors John Wesley preached a sermon on The Cause and Cure of Earthquakes sin he said, is the moral cause of earthquakes, whatever their natural causes may be they are the effect of that curse which was brought upon the earth by the original transgression of Adam and Eve You will have to read this unbelievably well researched and meticulously detailed work to experience Voltaire s lividness Voltaire s war was on Candide was eventually the big result His most perfect production, the world thought, although Voltaire denied authorship He had better occupations than write a pack of nonsense like that he declared Well, he did usethan 100 speudonyms to get his message out His followers and admirers, most of France, and soon the rest of the world, thought differently Here was that deceptively simple, smoothly flowing, lightly prancing, impishly ironic prose that only he could write here and there a little obscenity, a little scatology everywhere a playful, darting, lethal irreverence if the style is the man, this had to be Voltaire Voltaire had managed to put into small compass, within the frame of a story of adventure and love, a telling satire of Leibniz theodicy, Pope s optimism, religious abuses, monastic amours, class prejudices, political corruption, legal chicanery, judicial venality, the barbarity of the penal code, the injustice of slavery, and the destructiveness of war Candide was composed while the Seven Years War dragged through its hither and thither of victory, devastation, and death Flaubert called Voltaire s masterpiecele r sum de toutes ses oeuvres,the summary of all his works It had the defect of most satires, absurd exaggeration but Voltaire knew quite well that few men ever encounter so bitter a concatenation of catastrophes as Candide sVoltaire is without question the most brilliant writer that ever lived Was he second in every field, as Diderot charged Second in philosophy to Diderot, yes, and in drama to Corneille and Racine but he was first and best in his time in his conception and writing of history, in the grace of his poetry, in the charm and wit of his prose, in the range of his thought and his influence His spirit moved like a flame over the continent and the century, and stirs a million souls in every generation Perhaps he hated too much, but we must remember the provocation we must imagine ourselves back in an age when men were burned at the stake, or broken on the wheel, for deviating from orthodoxyJean Calas was one of a small group of Huguenots Calvinist Protestants left in Toulouse after a century of persecution, confiscation of property, and compulsory conversion to CatholicismThe law of France not only excluded Protestants from public office, it declared them ineligible to be lawyers, or physicians, or apothecaries, or midwives, or booksellers, or goldsmiths, or grocers If they had not been baptized they had no civil rights whatever If they had not been married by a Catholic priest they were held to be living in concubinage, and their children were accounted illegitimate Suffice to say, this ninth volume of author and sociologist, Will Durant s The Story of Civilization series, was one of the best books I have ever read on Voltaire s life and times It was THIS VIDEO that had me find the author s writings, and in particular his immaculate research on Voltaire.There is much of Voltaire in Christopher Hitchens, and probably a large dollop in Mark Twain s rebellion against the establishment Needless to say, I LOVE LOVE LOVE their work Ok, I confess, I not only adore their work, I m a free speech rebel myself And satire is my beat Sarcastic satire is even better And yes, Voltaire, actually DID say I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it just a little bit differently You get the drift though.I rest my case I hope I provided enough reasons for you to love Voltaire as well This book is an absolute MUST READ for all Voltaire groupies Oh yes, and for those who don t know where freedom of speech originated from


  4. W.D. Clarke W.D. Clarke says:

    A stunning achievement of erudition, intellectual sympathy, and skepticism the latter always tempered by unparalleled moderation I cannot recommend thisheartily, and am only sad that I will not be reading its sequel Rousseau and Revolution for a while, as I want to fill in some of the gaps that this book has raised in my 1715 56 reading life which is pretty much everything from 1715 56, tbh While reading, I had the distinct impression that he favoured the history of music somewhat A stunning achievement of erudition, intellectual sympathy, and skepticism the latter always tempered by unparalleled moderation I cannot recommend thisheartily, and am only sad that I will not be reading its sequel Rousseau and Revolution for a while, as I want to fill in some of the gaps that this book has raised in my 1715 56 reading life which is pretty much everything from 1715 56, tbh While reading, I had the distinct impression that he favoured the history of music somewhat over the history of the novel, and in terms of pages this was true enough, but my feeling that he focused muchon France than on England is a false one if you extract the 200 or so pages that close the volume which focus upon the attack upon Christianity by the French Philosophes Voltaire, Diderot, et al , which the subtitle to this volume does warn us is a special emphasis here.Again, to be honest, I find that military history you know, those endless battles and interchangeable Seventy times nine years Wars of the Blah blah Succession to be both wearisome and vertiginous, and Durant, concerned with Civilization in all that that term implies, only gives us small doses of the battlefield, for which I am eternally grateful.But seriously, if there is one book to rule them all in terms of panoptic synoptic history, this might be it Each section be that on the novel, the life of the salons, or even geodesy no, I did not know what that meant before, and have almost forgotten it now as I type this leaves you wanting, and that can never be a bad thing If you know me at all, then you know that I always wantpolitical economy, and the sections on the South Sea Bubble England, 1720 and the collapse of Lord s Systeme in France also 1720 amounted to nothan petits amuse bouches spfor me, alas


  5. Ron Ron says:

    A terrific find at a used book sale I have seen this at antique markets but the seller usually wants to unload a full set This is old school history, as opposed to the revisionism peddled today The section about Georgian London with all its highs and lows is especially compelling Absolutely first rate, it s a shame that we don t see these great volumes in ePub format Written in 1965 Just 13 reviews here while pure junk gets tens of thousandsoh wellUPDATE I found this series on the A terrific find at a used book sale I have seen this at antique markets but the seller usually wants to unload a full set This is old school history, as opposed to the revisionism peddled today The section about Georgian London with all its highs and lows is especially compelling Absolutely first rate, it s a shame that we don t see these great volumes in ePub format Written in 1965 Just 13 reviews here while pure junk gets tens of thousandsoh wellUPDATE I found this series on the Kobo site in Epub format, now reading the Louis XIV volume


  6. Erik Graff Erik Graff says:

    Will and Ariel Durants Story of Civilization series is unlike most histories in that they pay considerable attention to the lives of ordinary persons, and women, in addition to describing the political, cultural and scientific accomplishments of great men Will Durant is especially good in explicating the history of ideas as this volume demonstrates, primarily in the field of political philosophy.


  7. Bev Bev says:

    I love this series however I ve read so much history that I skipped things that are familiar, concentrating on the historical characters and their interaction It is the story of western European history from the early 1700 s to about 1750 Interesting to see how all the countries connected and what issues resulted in immigrating to America and other countries, especially I didn t know much about the smaller countries Why was this called the age of Voltaire He was a philosopher and the Durran I love this series however I ve read so much history that I skipped things that are familiar, concentrating on the historical characters and their interaction It is the story of western European history from the early 1700 s to about 1750 Interesting to see how all the countries connected and what issues resulted in immigrating to America and other countries, especially I didn t know much about the smaller countries Why was this called the age of Voltaire He was a philosopher and the Durrants see this as a period when these countries threw off their religious beliefs and that Voltaire was a great influence in that Previously countries picked one religion and governed by that With so many beliefs governments expelled the ones they didn t like and ignored others I love the detail The books pack a lot of excitement in telling the stories


  8. Bruce Knotts Bruce Knotts says:

    Wonderful book that does much to explain the age we live in now The book ends with an interesting discussion of the Age of Reason and the reasons for faith As a Unitarian Universalist, it is fascinating to me how much Unitarianism weaves into Will Durant s later volumes of his History of Civilization I also adore Will Durant s use of language which is full of humor and interest, which adds so much life and vitality to his topic Can t wait to read his remaining two volumes However, I will gi Wonderful book that does much to explain the age we live in now The book ends with an interesting discussion of the Age of Reason and the reasons for faith As a Unitarian Universalist, it is fascinating to me how much Unitarianism weaves into Will Durant s later volumes of his History of Civilization I also adore Will Durant s use of language which is full of humor and interest, which adds so much life and vitality to his topic Can t wait to read his remaining two volumes However, I will give them a break for a while, but will definitely return to read the final volumes


  9. Keeko Keeko says:

    The authors bring the 18th Century to life It seems very much like our time because there are financial scandals and incredible scientific progress in the midst of wars and extreme poverty, and there s a lot of energy by people who are trying to make the world a better place What I like best about the Durant books is the gentle humor and feeling of kindness You can feel that they loved writing the books.


  10. James Violand James Violand says:

    This review applies to all Durant s History of Civilization The author does not follow a strictly chronological approach, but emphasizes those events personages that have developed our Western civilization He tends to emphasize certain personalities some of whom I take exception to but he stresses those things which make Western man unique The arts have a prominent place in developing our culture and Durant convinces the reader how important they are.


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The Age of Voltaire ➶ The Age of Voltaire Free ➬ Author Will Durant – Buyprobolan50.co.uk subtitle A History of Civilization in Western Europe from to , With Special Emphasis on the Conflict Between Religion and Philosophy subtitle A History of Civilization in Western Europe fromto , With Special Emphasis on the Conflict Between Religion and Philosophy.