• The Dream of Enlightenment

  • The Rise of Modern Philosophy
  • By: Anthony Gottlieb
  • Narrated by: Anthony Gottlieb
  • Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (182 ratings)

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The Dream of Enlightenment

By: Anthony Gottlieb
Narrated by: Anthony Gottlieb
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Publisher's Summary

The author of the classic The Dream of Reason vividly explains the rise of modern thought.

Western philosophy is now two-and-a-half millennia old, but much of it came in just two staccato bursts, each lasting only about 150 years. In his landmark survey of Western philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance, The Dream of Reason, Anthony Gottlieb documented the first burst, which came in the Athens of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Now, in The Dream of Enlightenment, Gottlieb expertly navigates a second great explosion of thought, taking us to northern Europe in the wake of its wars of religion and the rise of Galilean science. In a relatively short period - from the early 1640s to the eve of the French Revolution - Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, and Hume all made their mark. The Dream of Enlightenment tells their story, and that of the birth of modern philosophy.

As Gottlieb explains, all these men were amateurs: none had much to do with any university. They tried to fathom the implications of the new science and of religious upheaval, which led them to question traditional teachings and attitudes. What does the advance of science entail for our understanding of ourselves and for our ideas of God? How should a government deal with religious diversity - and what, actually, is government for? Such questions remain our questions, which is why Descartes, Hobbes, and the others are still pondered today.

Yet it is because we still want to hear them that we can easily get these philosophers wrong. It is tempting to think they speak our language and live in our world; but to understand them properly, we must step back into their shoes. Gottlieb puts listeners in the minds of these frequently misinterpreted figures, elucidating the history of their times and the development of scientific ideas, while engagingly explaining their arguments and assessing their legacy in lively prose.

With chapters focusing on Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Pierre Bayle, Leibniz, Hume, Rousseau, and Voltaire - and many walk-on parts - The Dream of Enlightenment creates a sweeping account of what the Enlightenment amounted to, and why we are still in its debt.

©2016 Anthony Gottlieb (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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Enlightenment meets Neuroscience

As a Clinical Neuroscientist, I’m interested in examining the Enlightenment’s luminaries through the the lens of recent research findings. I found Gottlieb’s integrated work very informative but likely only suited for those long familiar with the philosophers. Even so, an easy 5 stars.

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Great overview of the history of the Enlightenment

I especially liked the last few chapters on Hume, Voltaire, and Rousseau. It was helpful to get sketches on how they thought. Rousseau comes off looking worse, not good at dealing with other people and seeing imagined conspiracies.

Hume seems impressive. He tried to reason about many questions and yet his personality was congenial. It was interesting to see how much Hume in particular needed to hide part of his beliefs on religion. Also, Adam Smith built on Hume's thinking.

Gottlieb does a good job of trying to explain what were positive effects of the Enlightenment thinkers. They tried to be more reasonable and this attempt was important, even if they didn't figure out all that much. It was their attitude that we should try to think more rather than just accept traditional beliefs that was one of their biggest contributions.

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Excellent excellent excellent!!!

Highly recommend. Especially for anyone who is just beginning to dive into the world of philosophy

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Wonderful tour of enlightenment thinking

Gottlieb allowed me to get to know the central concerns and innovations of several enlightenment era thinkers in about ten hours. It was very well structured, clear and struck a good balance between thorough and succinct. I would love a similar look at thinkers after Rousseau and Voltaire, where he ended.
A good sequel might look at Nietszche, Kant, Camus, Russell, HDT among others. Loved it!

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Very enlightening

I enjoyed the book. I also learned many things I was unaware of. It was a good read.

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well narrated by its pacing contextual refernces

perfect for long drives with little scenery or the dreary 30 minutes on the daily elliptical

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  • Tom O'Rourke
  • 10-16-21

superb

the love of learning and the unending list of exceptional audiobooks with excellent readers

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  • Alex
  • 09-19-22

Fantastic book

Despite diving into and loving many of the origin texts, this book is really a layer of appreciation of one of the most consequential and fascinating periods in history, science & philosophy.
I'm not sure anything else I've read stays so consistently relevant, information dense and thought provoking.

Not only does Anthony touch on all of the aspects of the enlightenment you would expect thoughtfully, framing ideas and events in the context of the time (which I have to admit can be hard to piece together living in such vastly different times), but also skillfully illustrates the deeper meanings and broader ramifications.

Definitely a worthwhile read for both newcomers a those who are just looking for something new on the subject.