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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Making Man in Reason's Image: The Enlightenment and the Birth of Modern Humanity by James Schmidt: an Audio Lecture Review

This is a series of audio lectures on the Endarkenment (what most people call the Enlightenment) put together by Barnes & Noble. The lecturer is Professor James Schmidt of Boston University. It is good so far as surveys go, though with a few faults. Since it has been a while since I studied the Enlightenment, for instance, I would have found it more helpful if the professor had spent a little more time discussing the details of the French Revolution. Also, the second to last lecture contains a discussion of the nature of revolution. Unfortunately, the professor tended to lean towards the perspective that confuses the philosophy of Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the American Revolution (better titled the American War for Independence) with other movements that bear the name "revolution". To his credit, he did spend some time discussing Edmund Burke's views on this, and he did his best to maintain a neutral position on the question. Nonetheless, his own views were apparent. He obviously believes that the Enlightenment was a good thing, and believes a pluralistic view of religion is a positive thing. And since one can only be so thorough in a survey, I was left with at best a surface-level view of the ideas of the Enlightenment. In spite of all this, I still found this a helpful overview, and recommendable to the discerning listener.

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