The Enlightenment: A Very Brief History - Anthony Kenny
‘If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.’
Montesquieu, Hume, Voltaire, Diderot, Smith, Gibbon, Bentham . . . These are among the great thinkers who contributed to the dramatic developments in religion, science and philosophy that we now call the Enlightenment. They dominated the second half of the eighteenth century and their writings continue to shape the intellectual and political worlds we now inhabit.
Written by a world authority, this brief history of the Enlightenment concludes with a perceptive assessment of the cultural, religious, ethical and political dimensions of its legacy.
‘A remarkable short tour of the Enlightenment that is brisk but never hurried, covering more than seems possible. Kenny is as spirited and opinionated as the age he describes, tempered by a moderation and breadth of knowledge that comes from experience and hindsight.’
Julian Baggini, founder editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine
Sir Anthony Kenny FBA was born in Liverpool in 1931, and was educated at Upholland College and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. From 1963 to 1989 he was at Balliol College, Oxford, first as Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy, and then as Master. He later became Warden of Rhodes House, President of the British Academy and of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, and Chair of the Board of the British Library. In 2006 Kenny was awarded the American Catholic Philosophical Association's Aquinas Medal for his significant contributions to philosophy.