Enlightenment and Catholicism in Europe
A Transnational History
494 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268022402 | May 2014
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268075958 | May 2014
In recent years, historians have rediscovered the religious dimensions of the Enlightenment. This volume offers a thorough reappraisal of the so-called “Catholic Enlightenment” as a transnational Enlightenment movement. This Catholic Enlightenment was at once ultramontane and conciliarist, sometimes moderate but often surprisingly radical, with participants active throughout Europe in universities, seminaries, salons, and the periodical press.
In Enlightenment and Catholicism in Europe: A Transnational History, the contributors, primarily European scholars, provide intellectual biographies of twenty Catholic Enlightenment figures across eighteenth-century Europe, many of them little known in English-language scholarship on the Enlightenment and pre-revolutionary eras. These figures represent not only familiar French intellectuals of the Catholic Enlightenment but also Iberian, Italian, English, Polish, and German thinkers. The essays focus on the intellectual and cultural factors influencing the lives and works of their subjects, revealing the often global networks of intellectual sociability and reading that united them both to the Catholic Enlightenment and to eighteenth-century policies and projects. The volume, whose purpose is to advance the understanding of a transnational "Catholic Enlightenment," will be a reliable reference for historians, theologians, and scholars working in religious studies.
Jeffrey D. Burson is assistant professor of history at Georgia Southern University.
Ulrich L. Lehner is associate professor of theology at Marquette University.
"An undoubted landmark in Enlightenment studies, this is certainly the best volume that we have in English on the ‘Catholic Enlightenment.'" —Jonathan I. Israel, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
"The nature of the interaction between established religion and Europe's Enlightenment remains deeply problematical. This notably well-planned collection of studies of well-known and less familiar figures brings the Catholic Enlightenment squarely into focus. Nuanced, informative, and wide-ranging, it provides the best introduction currently available to a central topic in eighteenth-century European history." —Hamish Scott, University of Glasgow
“But the book’s great contribution is that it supplies English-language accounts of some of the most significant Catholic writings of the eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries from many European countries, not only France, Italy, and Germany but also Spain, Austria, Poland, and Scotland. In each case a bibliography is also supplied. No other book conveys so well the pan-European nature of Catholic discussion, or its range and depth. . . . The editors deserve congratulation for having ranged so widely and for having insisted on publishing short accounts of works by many authors, so that their variety and geographical range can be appreciated.” —The Catholic Historical Review
“Overall, these articles cast light on the attempts of some Catholics to engage with the issues of their day, and also address the opposition to these lines of thought by Catholic contemporaries.” —Choice
“It has only been possible to draw attention to some of the riches contained in this stimulating volume. All the works cited are set in their social, cultural, and intellectual contexts. The transnational approach helps to set 18th-century Catholicism and the Enlightenment in a new perspective and to draw attention to some thinkers who are not well known in the English-speaking world. There are comprehensive bibliographies on all the authors treated in the volume. This book will be an invaluable source of reference for philosophers, theologians, historians, and students of European literature.” —Irish Theological Quarterly
“This collection of brief biographies by European and American scholars challenges the misconception, both lay and scholarly, that the Enlightenment was uniformly secular and anticlerical by exploring the lives and works of twenty men and one woman who embraced aspects of Enlightenment science and philosophy in a Catholic context. Organized into nine parts based on nationality, the subjects span the breadth of Europe from the British Isles to Poland, illustrating the complexity of Catholic attitudes toward liberal currents in eighteenth-century thought.” —Catholic Library World
“The editors intend this book to introduce the subject and to provoke further research. The biographical organization helps achieve that; and each essay answers just enough questions, and leaves just enough hanging, to encourage working through the full bibliographies concluding each one. Most of these chapters were commissioned for this volume, and some of this research appears in English for the first time. Several of these chapters could easily be used in a class on the Enlightenment—and should be.” —Fides et Historia
“This book argues for a robust, frequently positive, often complex, relationship between Roman Catholicism and Enlightenment. It does so through a series of essays on individual figures, lay and ordained, male and female, from almost all parts of Europe that had a significant Roman Catholic presence, illustrating many aspects of Enlightenment culture, thought and politics. . . . This is a landmark book and will form an important basis for future work on Roman Catholicism’s relationship with, and contributions to, the European Enlightenment.” —The Journal of Ecclesiastical History
“Study of the “Catholic Enlightenment” flourishes as never before. . . . Charging at the gallop are Jeffrey D. Burson and Ulrich L. Lehner. . . . Taken as a whole this welcome book will stimulate further discussions of a subject that no serious dix-huitiémiste, ecclesiastical or otherwise, can afford to ignore.” —Journal of Jesuit Studies
“What one gleans from a reading of the volume as a whole is how very many ways of being Enlightened there were, and how at least some Catholic thinkers reconciled within their life spans…an Enlightened approach to knowledge and traditional Catholicism. [The] introduction by Jeffrey D. Burson . . . should be required reading for anyone interested in the Enlightenment as a whole or its many aspects.” —H-Net Reviews