The Enlightenment was a movement of intellectual change that penetrated every European country as well as North America during the eighteenth century. It aimed to emancipate human reason from prejudice, superstition, and the assertions of established religion. It sought then to apply rationality to the cause of political and social reform, above all to progress - itself a key Enlightenment notion. In this wide-ranging introduction, Ulrich Im Hof describes the origins and development of Enlightenment ideas, and traces their effects on European and American thought, politics and society.The author begins with an account of eighteenth-century European and American intellectual, political, and social life. He describes the universities, academies, salons, and reading societies from which the principal ideas of the Enlightenment emerged and he examines their diffusion, interaction, and influence.
Enlightenment ideas provided a basis at once for democracy, enlightened despotism, and anarchy: they informed, even impelled, the great revolutions in France and America, as well as the regimes that followed them: they were at once the centre and the cause of the great flowering of learning that took place throughout the European world.Professor Im Hof concludes by examining the progress of Enlightenment thought in the nineteenth century, the counter-movement of Romanticism, and the degree to which reason and rationality continue to hold sway at the turn of the twentieth century. This account of the interaction of ideas and events will be widely welcomed by all students of what is perhaps the central intellectual movement of modern times.
Ulrich Im Hof studied at the University of Basle, and since 1965 has been lecturer in Swiss history and general modern History at the University of Bonn, as well as the Director of the Department of Swiss History at the University of Bern. Among his publications are
Das gesellige Jahrhundert. Gesellschaft und Gesellschaften in Seitalter der Aufklarung (1982) and
Geschichte der Schweiz (1987).