Wednesday, October 15, 2014

So even the Institute nods?

With Democratic Enlightenment and now Revolutionary ideas, Jonathan "Israel has taken himself out of contention as a trustworthy historian of origins and character of the French Revolution, perhaps of the Enlightenment as well.  Worse, the cavalier and partial handling of evidence in this and the previous volume inevitably raise retrospective questions about the reliability of the first [(Radical Enlightenment)], from which most historians including this one thought they had profited. . . . Israel is entitled to his materialistic, monistic, and atheist Spinozan worldview, including his schismatic conviction that none of us who arrive at political positions similar to his ever legitimately do so without his Spinozan starting points.  But ontology is not history, and no historians have so far succeeded in getting this elemental verity across to Israel, among them historians as 'secular' as he is."

     Dale van Kley, "The French Revolution and the Radical Enlightenment:  a cautionary tale for Christian historians," Books and culture (September/October 2014):  17 (14-17).

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