The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth

The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind [Epub] ➛ The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind By A.C. Grayling – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk The Age of Genius explores the eventful intertwining of outward event and inner intellectual life to tell, in all its richness and depth, the story of the th century in Europe It was a time of creativ The Age of Genius: Epub ß of Genius explores the eventful intertwining of outward event and inner intellectual life to tell, in all its richness and depth, the story of the th century in Europe It was a time The Age Kindle - of creativity unparalleled in history before or since, from science to the arts, from philosophy to politics Acclaimed philosopher and historian AC Grayling points to three primary factors that led to the rise of vernacular popular Age of Genius: PDF/EPUB ã languages in philosophy, theology, science, and literature the rise of the individual as a general and not merely an aristocratic type and the invention and application of instruments and measurement in the study of the natural worldGrayling vividly reconstructs this unprecedented era and breathes new life into the major figures of the seventeenth century intelligentsia who span literature, music, science, art, and philosophy Shakespeare, Monteverdi, Galileo, Rembrandt, Locke, Newton, Descartes, Vermeer, Hobbes, Milton, and Cervantes, among many During this century, a fundamentally new way of perceiving the world emerged as reason rose to prominence over tradition, and the rights of the individual took center stage in philosophy and politics, a paradigmatic shift that would define Western thought for centuries to come.


10 thoughts on “The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind

  1. Jonfaith Jonfaith says:

    The Age of Genius is a strange book, the arguments are layered in enormous amounts of detail, whether it be the troop movements in the Thirty Year war or the particulars of a Rosicrucian treatise Ultimately Grayling asserts it was the defeat of Catholicism and other static, autocratic tendencies which allowed skeptical discourse to improve upon science and government Grayling lifts the possibility that this trend continued into the arts but abandons it almost immediately Grayling appears to e The Age of Genius is a strange book, the arguments are layered in enormous amounts of detail, whether it be the troop movements in the Thirty Year war or the particulars of a Rosicrucian treatise Ultimately Grayling asserts it was the defeat of Catholicism and other static, autocratic tendencies which allowed skeptical discourse to improve upon science and government Grayling lifts the possibility that this trend continued into the arts but abandons it almost immediately Grayling appears to echo Niall Ferguson in noting the significance of certain networks of people who proliferated these liberal ideas and mostly avoided the ultimate punishment I enjoyed great parts of this text and yet groaned throughout entire chapters


  2. Dee Dee says:

    This book is basically the non fiction backstory to Neal Stephenson s Baroque Cycle starting with Quicksilver Except the Baroque Cycle manages to cover a lotof the world But this was up front about its restrictions of location and scope it was going to cover Western Europe in the 17th century and the changes that society underwent.And it does it hard It s a solid both sturdy and dense history book It s often somewhat opaque not assisted by the author s fondness for somewhat old This book is basically the non fiction backstory to Neal Stephenson s Baroque Cycle starting with Quicksilver Except the Baroque Cycle manages to cover a lotof the world But this was up front about its restrictions of location and scope it was going to cover Western Europe in the 17th century and the changes that society underwent.And it does it hard It s a solid both sturdy and dense history book It s often somewhat opaque not assisted by the author s fondness for somewhat old fashioned syntax and construction especially when the author digs enthusiastically into the nitty gritty of philosophy obviously a favourite of his not so much of mine , but in general it does a great job of laying out the moving and shaking elements of the period, with lots of interesting asides The power of postal services Sweden s stint as a world power The self defeating stupidity of the Holy Roman Emperor It was, all in all, a good overview of the many ways in which 17th century mindset change manifested.And then the conclusion of the book tacks on the compulsory looking forward bit about the ease of myth and the challenge of education that honestly made me wish that was the point of the book But oh well I didn t power through 20% of the book in one sitting a lot of that page length was the notes section


  3. Haider Hussain Haider Hussain says:

    History extends the period of Renaissance from 14th to 16th century Renaissance marks the transition from middle ages to modernity where the seeds of reason were sown in human mind and it attempted to gain the freedom of thought and religion This period was marked by man s strides in the fields of arts, architecture, poetry and drama What follows after Renaissance was the Age of Enlightenment between 17th and 18th century Where Renaissance focused on the artistic side of human mind, Age of E History extends the period of Renaissance from 14th to 16th century Renaissance marks the transition from middle ages to modernity where the seeds of reason were sown in human mind and it attempted to gain the freedom of thought and religion This period was marked by man s strides in the fields of arts, architecture, poetry and drama What follows after Renaissance was the Age of Enlightenment between 17th and 18th century Where Renaissance focused on the artistic side of human mind, Age of Enlightenment concentrated on its intellectual side where the focus wason science and logic Enlightenment was marked by skepticism where every aspect of human life became subject to scrutiny.In this book, Grayling argues that 17th century merits its own unique place in the history Instead of just lumping it in the Age of Enlightenment, we need to single out 17th century because no era or epoch have the greater influence on humankind than the Seventeenth century Grayling says that so profound seventeenth century s influence was that the world before and since can arguable be claimed as two different worlds.Though the list of influential figures of Seventeenth century is long, Grayling singles out four key individuals that helped the transition of mind from old ways of thinking to modernity These were Marin Mersenne, Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes and John Locke.The transition from Renaissance to Enlightenment contained an important element influence of magic and occultism Many great scientists of the seventeenth century, including Newton and Boyle, were also involved in magical or occultist practices According to Newton s Papers that J M Keynes bought in 1963, a great number of Newton s writings were concerned with alchemical and magical speculations Both Newton and Boyle were extensively involved in alchemy and believed that alchemy can help acquire wealth and immortality However, many of these last of occultists also helped to remove science from the entanglement of occultism by focusingon empirical and methodical investigations.Grayling says that Rosicrucian movement in the early 17th century was the end point of the incubation period of modern mind a period that started with the Renaissance At that point, critical thinking started escaping from religious and occultist influences Whether or not natural philosophy science was born out of occultist philosophy, or was always separately coexisting, the first decades of 17th century saw the disentanglement of the two This disentanglement was done by means of a focus on method, and there were three key figures behind it Bacon, Descartes and Mersenne.Grayling calls Marin Mersenne as the internet server of 17th Century Mersenne used to receive letters from the great thinkers of his time and then copied and disseminated them across Europe to spread news, opinions and discoveries Moreover, he also made available the copies of his correspondence in his lodgings for any visitor to read This way, he created the reputations of many great minds Descartes, Hobbes, for example with Descartes became famous in Paris circles long before his first publication In 1635, Mersenne gave its circle of acquaintance with whom he corresponded regularly a semi formal name of Academia Parisienne which consisted of nearly 150 philosophers, scientists and mathematicians including the likes of Descartes, Hobbes, Galileo, Pascal, Gassendi, Beekman, Toricricelli etc Academia Parisienne was arguably the inspiration for Academia de Science that Jean Baptiste Colbert setup in 1666, and Royal Society of London that was founded in 1660.Francis Bacon s life spanned an era in which England started the course to become a superpower for several centuries to come This was the time of agricultural reforms and industrial development and Bacon played his part in this changing world as a lawyer, statesman, author and philosopher of the new ways of thinking Bacon s significant contributions lie in his concept of science as a cooperative enterprise and not just the work of lonely and secretive scientists which can ensure institutional exchange of ideas This was revolutionary thinking at that time Through his novel The New Atlantis in 1627, he suggested the idea of Solomon s House idea of an institute for collaborative scientific works This was the idea that directly inspired the founding of Royal Society in 1662.Bacon was of the view that science must be based on observation of facts from which theory can be obtained via inference His method, which is known as Baconian Method, is an example of inductive reasoning Baconian Method consists of a series of steps, which allow for systematic collection of facts and careful induction from those facts in order to support or refute a hypothesis A striking feature of Baconian Method is its insistence on the collection of facts bottom up i.e., strictly through investigation of the works of practical crafts and trades the works of farmers, sailors, butchers, cabinet makers who have practical knowledge of how things work Bacon rejects top down a priori reflections He was of the view that the foundation of scientific enquiry must be based on how things actually work, not how we fancy them to.Before Bacon, the standard view was to review with awe the achievements of ancients and think of progress as the improvement upon what has already been done by the ancients Bacon rejected this view and believed that science is not just reviving the past but to start afresh Therefore, Bacon s significance also lies in his thinking that scientific knowledge is not confined to just rediscovering and copying it means discovering and making new and practical advancements.Ren Descartes method was the method of doubt His method is to proceed from one clear idea to the next until you reach the truth Descartes method instructs one to start from the most clear, doubtless and absolutely certain idea and then to remove the doubts each step of the way Moreover, despite his skeptical arguments, he was not a skeptic Descartes skepticism is investigative skepticism, not problematic skepticism He doubts not for the sake of denying per se, but to get to the ideas that are free from doubts.In the late 16th century, a combination of Christian theology and Aristotelian view was the acceptable view of the nature acceptable because Church was comfortable with it The major author of this viewpoint was Thomas Aquinas, who brought the material and spiritual together by combining Aristotalian science Ptolemaic astronomy with Church s teaching in an attempt to make science a servant of theology and a very successful attempt at that time Any scientific attempt that disagree with orthodox view of nature was punishable by the Church the trial of Galileo was an example of that kind This trial was also important because it was the last significant attempt of the Church to suppress the free thinking of science Grayling argues that, as the trial of Galileo shows, there was a pressing need to free the science from slavery of religion It was the need of that time to show that the spheres of science and religion are different and that science can progress without inflicting any moral damage to the religious teachings This matter is personally important for Descartes who wished that his teachings and research became acceptable for the Church and are taught at Jesuits schools So, science was facing two battles to free itself from the clutches of occultism and to free itself from religion Both of these challenges were accepted by the same persons Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes The solution to the problem of different spheres of religion and science lays in Descartes theory in his Meditations on First Philosophy he argued that mind and matters are essentially two different things though this created problem as to how mind and matter interact Descartes point was that the God Himself laid down the laws of science, which the material realm is following Therefore, separation of matter from mind or science from religion is perfectly acceptable to God Francis Bacon, on the other hand, gave rise to the view that the ultimate aim of scientific knowledge must not be the subjugation of faith but the servitude of humanity through improvement in practical applications Emergence of scientific revolution also changed wars Demand for new types of weaponry and better logistics forced the craftsmen to improve their skills In addition, Thirty Years War and its outcome also forced thinkers to rethink the role of states, institutions and governance structures in a society 17th century was the time when world started shifting from the love of monarchy to the rejection of absolutism one of the key architect of this shift was John Locke.Absolute monarchy was the passage between feudalism and democracy In the medieval period, there were feudal lords with absolute control over a part of the land As their power grew, conflicts arose among the feudal lords From there came the need for absolute monarchy to maintain the order A central question in political theory is what determines the right of a ruling government or ruler to govern From fifteenth century onward, a new kind of governing authority was needed might or power wasn t enough to justify the rule That justification was found in the seal of approval of the Church the divine right of a ruler to govern I think that was a turning point, a decisive moment Before the need of backing a ruler, Church s own claim on the authority based on religion was absolute However, as soon as Church started involving into governance politics, fragmentations occurred within it, making its authority weaker Soon came a time when absolute monarch s power exceeded that of the Church Soon the need was felt for a new system of governance, which must reject the concentration of power in one or few hands Locke s influential anti absolutist, pro liberal political philosophy was the answer to that need.Grayling culminates his book on the note that, despite the evolution of human mind, there are two major twists First, with the advancements of science and technology, the world view has becomeandcomplex, often out of the reach of an average mind The average mind thus find solace in old world view of pre seventeenth century old world view that contains simpler religious explanations and simple to do and not to do lists Second, the architect of chaos are using the fruits of mind s evolution, namely technology, to revert people back to the old world view in order to gain control Grayling argues that the solution to both the problem lies in the uplifting of average mind through education despite the fact that this solution sounds clich d, this is true like most of the clich s


  4. BookBrowse BookBrowse says:

    Building a book length argument around his contention that the seventeenth century is the moment when one world view was displaced by another because the scientific displaced that of faith, Grayling paints a picture of astronomers, mathematicians, medical doctors, and even alchemists often reaching conclusions that even they dearly hoped weren t true because the answers meant opposing Christian doctrine, unwise if you wanted to keep your job, freedom or headTo my ear, though, the tone of Building a book length argument around his contention that the seventeenth century is the moment when one world view was displaced by another because the scientific displaced that of faith, Grayling paints a picture of astronomers, mathematicians, medical doctors, and even alchemists often reaching conclusions that even they dearly hoped weren t true because the answers meant opposing Christian doctrine, unwise if you wanted to keep your job, freedom or headTo my ear, though, the tone of the Grayling s prose is rather flat think textbook and you ve pretty much got it so many of these unexpected sidelights are not presented as compellingly or dramatically as one might hope But on balance, Grayling has put forward a powerful argument for independent thinking as a vehicle of salvation, and if he gets lost in the weeds from time to time, at least it s nice to be in the presence of someone who hasn t mistaken the grasslands of the earth for the fabled Garden of Eden James Broderick, BookBrowse.com Full review at


  5. Bertrand Bertrand says:

    Disclaimer I found this book in my local tube station I picked it up knowing only of Grayling as one of the apostles of new atheism, and thus expected an arrogant panegyric to the self evident progress of rational mankind, couched under the guise of a sweepingly broad brush popular history It turned out to be somewhat less arrogant than expected, but not quite as sweeping as I would have liked All in all, I started prejudiced, but was quite pleased with the book The book endeavours to descr Disclaimer I found this book in my local tube station I picked it up knowing only of Grayling as one of the apostles of new atheism, and thus expected an arrogant panegyric to the self evident progress of rational mankind, couched under the guise of a sweepingly broad brush popular history It turned out to be somewhat less arrogant than expected, but not quite as sweeping as I would have liked All in all, I started prejudiced, but was quite pleased with the book The book endeavours to describe the seventeenth century as a whole, which the author claims to be the turning point in human history He of course falls short of such an encyclopedic project, but does so in style The book is divided in three sections, the first examining the politics of the Thirty Years War, a conflict of apocalyptic proportions both materially and intellectually the second looking at the transition between occultism and modern science, analysing the divorce settlement between alchemy and chemistry, if you will and the third concerned with the early history of the scientific revolution proper Of Grayling s three themes, that is probably the one I was most familiar I ve read some Frances Yates back in the days, and I have maintained a peripheral interest in the puzzling subsistence of older systems within modernity Contrary to my low expectations, Grayling pours relatively little scorns on those beliefs, and does not overly indulge his readership with long lists of inane superstitions , solitary eccentric and other spiritual exotica there is a little of that, but it is the Church and the thomist aristotelian worldview that gets the brunt of it I know little about it so that kind of reduction bothered me less Grayling is actually quite frank and open in his approach, acknowledging repeatedly the two theories on the relation between Renaissance science and the occult that science itself evolved from such occult doctrines as astrology or alchemy, or that they were separate endeavours but intertwined since ancient times Grayling goes for the later, and I would rather lean toward the first, but his analysis of the shift is both interesting and balanced With that said, there is here no escaping from the pitfalls of popular history the terms occult or magical thinking are thrown around quite a bit without ever being defined, for example To his credit he does make the crucial distinctions between natural magic and conjuration , as well as between alchemy and spagyria Similarly he contrasts Bacon s emphasis on the free circulation of learning and the need for public institutions to foster science, with the occultist emphasis on secrecy and solitude, which I m inclined to see as one of thedetermining moments of the move from occult to science yet had he sought to define occultism , he might also have recognised that those very rosicrucians and other apocalyptic protestant groups of the earliest XVIth c., preached both secrecy while advocating revelation The dialectic of secrecy and spectacle exists on both side of the occult science divide, and is deeply embedded in the politico religious context of the age this he hints at regularly, spending the first third of the book aptly chronicling the European situation, but ultimately does not do much to tie those aspects with the rest of his narrative The most interesting section, on the transition from occult to science proper focus on three characters, Descartes, Mersennes and Bacon Mersennes s main contribution, of which I don t think I had heard of before, was to circulate ideas and to between European scholars, effectively laying the foundations of a republic of letters capable to transcend national boundaries in its quest for universality Grayling evokes the relationship between science, religion and occultism as a kind of love triangle, where each sides with the one or the other according to circumstances Mersennes frequently embodied the alliance of science and religion against occultism, but that aspect is very little explored, andon his religious belief would have been welcome Grayling has written a biography of Descartes, so it comes as no surprise to find him playing a central role in the process, and his account is pleasantly subtle, arguing for example that Descarte probably owedto rosicrucian ideas than he was ready to acknowledge More on the distinction between rationalism and empiricism would however would have been welcome, especially on their respective borrowing from the older occult traditions, but this part is still the highlight of the book To conclude, I was pleasantly surprised Grayling does hold the views I expected, but argues for them in asensible than sensationalist fashion The book does have some short comings, in particular the unclear relation between the first part chronicling in some detail the political and military history of the Thirty Years War, and the other two, concerned respectively with the occult tradition and with the emergence of science proper This, I take it, springs from Grayling sgeneral worldview one in which orthodoxies, and religious orthodoxies most of all, constitute impediments to the triumphal march of progress until, at least, arises the titular Genius, who through the sheer strength of his ascetic will, can abstract himself from the world and its prejudices toward the pure and impersonal kingdom of objectivity This is of course a very naive account, one which might not account for Grayling s actual ideas, but which transpires from much pop science, because the common taste, shaped as it is by hollywoodian standards, has long craved for the stories of Great Men and their Eur ka moments Such an account conveniently obscures both the limits and internal contradictions of the scientific method s and the central place that ideology political but also religious plays in scientific discovery I will, to conclude, jot down a few of my own thoughts on the subject, as they arose when reading Grayling s book This is probably incoherent and poorly written, so feel free to skip if you are not in the mood Those limits and contradictions of the scientific method would for example include the point that the facts observed at the outset of the inductive process, for example, are neither self evident nor immediately given they come to our consciousness already assembled into concepts, rather than as discreet sense data, so that I see, however much I strive for objectivity, a bottle on a table, rather than a meaningless assemblage of coloured surfaces, as the bottle would be projected upside down on my retina Those concepts are inherited, they are part of our culture and for some of them, of our evolutionary make up Maybereadily than the outcomes of science, we might acknowledge that they are shaped by our social, political or religious allegiances This inherited culture, in my view, as socio economic processes ledandmen to invest in their time and money in the future rather than the past, came to be called tradition and defined as modernity s constitutive other In the dark ages , as Grayling is want to call them, this tradition was relatively monopolised by the Church by means of the revelation narrative Both later became thoroughly hypostasised, with tradition somehow claimed, both by its defenders and modern opponents to be unitary, stable and peaceful, while modernity was painted as impersonal flux I suspect that the XVIth XVIIth century constitute a transition period The real point of contention between occultism and science was the role played by tradition.Occultists understood it diversely as biblical or apocryphal revealed knowledge in medieval fashion, as ancient wisdom Renaissance style, and maybe also as natural historical a third paradigm in which man is seen as part of the natural world, rather than observing it from the outside Actual scientists in that period, an ideal type, much like the occultists also inescapably relied on tradition, in their practice, but unlike the occultists attempted to negate the importance of tradition rather than appropriate it to their particular purpose As the conflict between the two became increasingly violent, everyone had eventually to take side We ended up by the XVIIIth c with modern science on the one hand, which claimed for itself absolute objectivity, and had developed highly efficient institutions and methods to approach this ideal However, in order to maintain a neutral and fa ade of neutrality and inevitability, it had to redefine science away from the whole including the big questions of philosophy and politics and to rely on a fanciful liberal humanist subject On the other hand, we had occultism here rejected knowledge would make a better term , which was eminently diverse and contradictory because it did not go through the same institutionalisation as modern science, but which was both inclined to acknowledge and sometimes venerate the importance of tradition, and in a good position to engage those holistic issues which actual science had discarded This heterodox branch spent much of the century underground surfacing occasionally and unexpectedly in Leibniz, Newton or the early vitalists, andpredictably in Martinism or Mesmerism before coming back, with romanticism in the broadest sense, to the front of the stage So on the whole, this is not a groundbreaking book but it does make for a nice and accessible survey of its subject It feels a little disconnected at times, but for some readers this might be also one of its strength Grayling is not nearly as overweening as I d expected him to be, and I will consider readingof his work in the future


  6. Gary Beauregard Bottomley Gary Beauregard Bottomley says:

    To understand who we are one must first understand where we came from and how we got there Nothing providesinsight into our current human condition than a well thought out history about a critical century of thought such as this book provides I ve noticed that my Scientific American during the last two issues has commented on how the two statements recently made by actual politicians Climate change is a Chinese Hoax , and that philosophers are not as important as welders , show a co To understand who we are one must first understand where we came from and how we got there Nothing providesinsight into our current human condition than a well thought out history about a critical century of thought such as this book provides I ve noticed that my Scientific American during the last two issues has commented on how the two statements recently made by actual politicians Climate change is a Chinese Hoax , and that philosophers are not as important as welders , show a complete detachment from reality Critical reasoning and rational thought based on empirical facts are universally accepted by subscribers to Scientific American and they owe a debt a gratitude to the 17th century pre Enlightenment age as outlined in this book.The book provides a very good narrative for describing how we went from magic to science in such a short time He ll bring in the elements from the 16th century which are necessary for telling the story and takes the story into the 18th and beyond when required He never forces the reader into the artificial boundaries created by the 17th century as such.There is one criticism I did have on this book It was how he presented the 30 year war 1618 1648 He is muddled There are much better books and lectures on the subject matter, but don t allow yourself to get discouraged by his incoherence on that most interesting of all wars and realize it does matter for understanding today Students of understanding modern times often make the major mistake of starting their studies with the beginning of the 20th century Today s world did not happen in a vacuum and this book provides an excellent starting point for understanding today s world.Progress leading to critical reasoning and rational thought based on empirical methods and logical principles were not guaranteed for humanity This book shows some of the paradigm shifts in thinking that were necessary before they became the norm It took a confluence of different approaches to lead from the point where witches were considered real and burnt alive after all if hell fire awaits them in the after life, they might as well enter hell through fire in this life to the point were truth based on superstition, myth, magic, alchemy, Kabbalism and Hermeticism became ignored and irrelevant.Overall, I m for anything that shows the importance of critical reasoning, and I love the 17th century because of how critical it is for us in understanding who we are today BTW, climate change is real and is not a Chinese Hoax, and welders are valuable, but society to properly function will always provide a place for critical thinkers such as philosophers and readers of books like this one


  7. Peter Thomason Peter Thomason says:

    This is a book that deserves to be studied, annotated, digested, and referenced, not just read Grayling is an excellent and unpretentious writer and a master at distilling important and complex issues in intellectual and cultural history for amateurs like me and I suspect for those who areadvanced also The first section on the Thirty Years War 1618 1648 was hard to get through but a necessary backdrop for what follows as it puts the whole century in context and perspective He make This is a book that deserves to be studied, annotated, digested, and referenced, not just read Grayling is an excellent and unpretentious writer and a master at distilling important and complex issues in intellectual and cultural history for amateurs like me and I suspect for those who areadvanced also The first section on the Thirty Years War 1618 1648 was hard to get through but a necessary backdrop for what follows as it puts the whole century in context and perspective He makes a solid argument for the 17th century being the epoch in human history that brought us the modern mind out of, and due to, the political and social chaos and upheaval wrought by the wars that plagued 98 of its 100 years His belief is that it was the turmoil itself that opened the way for an unprecedented exchange of ideas resulting in the development of scientific method and progress on one hand and republican democracy on another Like all good historiography it introduced me to some obscure things, gave me a deeper understanding of things I only knew a little about, and made me want to dig deeper into some primary sources that I only had a passing knowledge of or have put off reading because they seemed too daunting The section on Hobbes and Locke and social contract theory was especially thought provoking in that it got me thinkingabout the development of human society and government from our primate origins, which was not something those writers would have considered as pre Darwinian thinkers Like the intelligencers of the period that the author covers, who played a critical role in collecting and distributing ideas via letters and manuscripts like human internet servers , Grayling brings a lot together here with the purpose of getting the reader to think deeply about our human condition and modern challenges to the scientific revolution from a pre Seventeenth century mindset that still exists in many parts of the world and while functional in modern terms is opposed to the idea of progress For example, he points out that with a growing gap between the knowledge of scientists and technologists and the rest of us, there is a tendency to want to fill the gap with the old stories myths, religious fundamentalism, the way things used to be that have a beginning, a middle, and an end purpose, are much easier to understand, and can be generally explained in about half an hour I highly recommend the book


  8. Jo Walton Jo Walton says:

    A thorough and interesting account of both the political and intellectual developments of the seventeenth century, focused on Europe but aware of the whole planet The last chapter surprised me by turning into an impassioned plea for civilization, but hey, I m for civilization too.


  9. Sam Qiu Sam Qiu says:

    Interesting book, that starts with the catalyst events of the thirty years war and religious ferverence in the 16th 17th century and how push back from occultists and scientist brought about a new way of empirical testing and scientific discoveries to create the epoch of modern society.The authors theory is that the battle for Europe between the Protestants and Catholics created a tumultuous environment that allowed new thoughts to begin from the likes of Locke, Hobbes, Galileo, Newton etcI Interesting book, that starts with the catalyst events of the thirty years war and religious ferverence in the 16th 17th century and how push back from occultists and scientist brought about a new way of empirical testing and scientific discoveries to create the epoch of modern society.The authors theory is that the battle for Europe between the Protestants and Catholics created a tumultuous environment that allowed new thoughts to begin from the likes of Locke, Hobbes, Galileo, Newton etcIn my opinion, although some people opine that Christianity was the basis for modern societal foundations, the real ingenuity stemmed from the push back of repressive methods by the church not because of it.A bit dry at the beginning the author says so himself in his meticulous breakdown of the thirty years war I really enjoyed the book as it gained momentum


  10. Andy Andy says:

    I finished this book moments ago Two immediate reactions simmering throughout my reading, however 1 There is major point in the last couple of chapters, about some parts of the contemporary world failing to update their world view allowing, in effect, theism to dominate reason, and superstition to hold off modern scientific methods To Grayling, this means that swaths of the world are held in the kind of unenlightened mental state that characterized the world before the 17th century brough I finished this book moments ago Two immediate reactions simmering throughout my reading, however 1 There is major point in the last couple of chapters, about some parts of the contemporary world failing to update their world view allowing, in effect, theism to dominate reason, and superstition to hold off modern scientific methods To Grayling, this means that swaths of the world are held in the kind of unenlightened mental state that characterized the world before the 17th century brought reason to the fore and relegated mysticism to its role governing religion, but not government or science If Grayling were writing today, I imagine he d place some of the outdated, uneducated populace right here in the good old U S of A At least, I hope he would, because we re living in a willful Dark Ages that rejects science along with progressive democratic practice, and in its place, the uneducated among us would reassert the primacy of theist, incurious and non rigorous thinking This has always been true in pockets, but today those pockets include the seats of governance This is twist that readers of Grayling can add to the two twists he describes in his final chapter And it brings with it, fear, ignorance and intolerance that are directly damaging the principles that Locke described, which underlay the shift from the old Divine Right of Kings to arecent Consent of the Governed, as the bases for government chapter 19.2 Grayling devotes the first third of this book to an overly detailed then this happened narrative of the Thirty Years War that adds nothing but reading time to the book He does advise readers, early on, to consider skimming that part, but then really, why add it The individual troop movements of the major armies is not critical to understanding the effects of the battles outcomes He could have ascended to a higher historical altitude to provide broad outlines of the trends and outcomes of the War, without the tactical information that spans at least 100 pages here


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