The Eighteenth century is often represented, applying Tom Paine's phrase, as 'The Age of Reason': an age when progressive ideals triumphed over autocracy and obscurantism, and when notions of order and balance shaped consciousness in every sphere of human knowledge. Yet the debates which surrounded the development of Eighteenth-century thought were always open to troubling doubts. Was nature itself truly an ordered entity, as Newton had argued, or was it a mass of chaotic, randomly moving atoms, as some materialist thinkers believed? This book explores the tensions and conflicts in these debates through a series of interdisciplinary essays from leading international scholars, each challenging the idea that the Eighteenth century was an age of order.
DAVID ADAMS Professor of French Enlightenment Studies, University of Manchester, UK
BARBARA ANDERMAN Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of the History of Art, Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania, USA
COSTICA BRADATAN Postdoctoral Fellow, Miami University, Ohio, USA
JONATHAN C. D. CLARK Professor of History, University of Kansas at Laurence, Kansas, USA
JUDITH HAWLEY Senior Lecturer in English, Royal Holloway College, University of London, UK
JONATHAN SIMON Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany
ROSEMARY SWEET Lecturer, School of Historical Studies, and Deputy Director of the Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester, UK