O Intermitente<br> (So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, good-bye)

O Intermitente
(So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, good-bye)

terça-feira, agosto 31, 2004

The Roads to Modernity: Crítica

O San Francisco Gate publicou uma crítica ao novo livro de Gertrude Himmelfarb "The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments".

Her critique of the French Enlightenment is twofold: First, the French philosophes, from Rousseau to Voltaire to Diderot and the rest, were anti-religious, and second, they were elitists who scorned the common people. The French so worshiped reason that they denied the value of faith, thus cutting themselves off from the multitudes.

The great Voltaire, Himmelfarb points out, opposed education for the children of farmers on the grounds that they were mired in religious superstition and thus largely unredeemable. This kind of elitist thinking, Himmelfarb tells us repeatedly, pervaded the French Enlightenment. So did totalitarian impulses, impulses embodied in the French Revolution and "the Terror." Himmelfarb spends much space describing Rousseau's concept of the "general will" and how it influenced Robespierre and hence "the Terror."

Most of the book is dedicated to praising the British Enlightenment, especially those two heroes of latter-day neoconservatives, Adam Smith and Edmund Burke. Unlike the "revolutionary" French intellectuals, Burke had a profound respect for established institutions. Smith, for his part, believed that religious toleration and religious freedom were essential for a coherent society and were preservative of all other freedoms. Himmelfarb shows how British philosophers such as Smith and David Hume (Scotsmen both) believed in a kind of "natural equality" between people. Both men also viewed commerce as a civilizing influence.


The final part of Himmelfarb's narrative is devoted to the American Enlightenment. Its dominating characteristic was its unique blending of philosophy and practicality. Unlike the French philosophers, who Himmelfarb views as alienated worshipers of abstraction, the American philosophers were also leaders of governments, men of action. And like the British, the American philosophers possessed a long-standing respect for the role religion played in people's lives.

Regarding religion in America, Himmelfarb favorably quotes Tocqueville: "Among us [the French] I had seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom almost always move in contrary directions. Here I found them united intimately with one another." In Himmelfarb's estimation, religion was so interwoven into 18th century American society and mores that it hardly needed to be mentioned explicitly in the Constitution. Religion thus supported the American Enlightenment, much as it did the British.

Nota: caso tenham conhecimento de outros artigos sobre o livro agradeço que me enviem o respectivo link.
posted by Miguel Noronha 3:56 da tarde

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"A society that does not recognize that each individual has values of his own which he is entitled to follow can have no respect for the dignity of the individual and cannot really know freedom."

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