Placing the Enlightenment: Thinking Geographically about the by Charles W. J. Withers

By Charles W. J. Withers

The Enlightenment was once the age during which the realm grew to become glossy, difficult culture in desire of cause, freedom, and significant inquiry. whereas many features of the Enlightenment were conscientiously scrutinized—its origins and motivations, its significant characters and defining good points, its legacy and smooth relevance—the geographical dimensions of the period have beforehand mostly been neglected. putting the Enlightenment contends that the Age of cause was once not just a interval of pioneering geographical research but additionally an age with spatial dimensions to its content material and concerns.Investigating the position house and site performed within the production and reception of Enlightenment principles, Charles W. J. Withers attracts from the fields of paintings, technological know-how, heritage, geography, politics, and faith to discover the legacies of Enlightenment nationwide identification, navigation, discovery, and information. finally, geography is published to be the resource of a lot of the uncooked fabric from which philosophers formed theories of the human condition.Lavishly illustrated and engagingly written, putting the Enlightenment will curiosity Enlightenment experts from around the disciplines in addition to any pupil serious about the position geography has performed within the making of the trendy global. (20071201)

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They draw from—and they draw together—the current concerns of numerous disciplines. My argument about the placed and mobile nature of the Enlightenment goes beyond the nation as the sole scale of inquiry, and above and beyond the merely local. Thinking about the Enlightenment geographically demands attention to questions of space—as real territory, as “imagined” space, as social space, and as epistemological space—and to the difference that space makes. Questions of place, to sites of production and of reception, become important.

They had internal geopolitical meaning for the changing entity that was Europe. As Prussia expanded south and eastward under the acquisitive policies of Frederick William I between 1713 and 1740, Russia grew westward, first under Peter the Great and, more extensively, under Catherine the Great from 1762 to 1796. Squeezed in the middle, Poland lost further land to Austria and effectively ceased to exist by 1795 before being restored as the Grand Duchy of Warsaw in 1815. Italy in the eighteenth century was a territorial patchwork of church lands and lands under Austrian and Bourbon dominion.

The Enlightenment took place somewhere. Thinking about the Enlightenment as a locatable and not just datable thing—as dynamic, mobile, and cosmopolitan, not just static and national—is to enlarge our own consciousness as to what the Enlightenment is and was and how it should be thought of. ” Admittedly this is not the same as saying there were many nations but only one Enlightenment. Yet for Gay, the Enlightenment’s “what” and its “where” did mean much the same thing. It was an essentially philosophical and French enterprise, embodied in those Voltairean radicals—“the party of humanity,” that “little flock of philosophes,” as he variously terms them—bound together from the 1730s by the promotion of atheism, republicanism, and materialism.

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