Philosophical Precursors to the Radical Enlightenment: Vignettes on the Struggle Between Philosophy and Theology From the Greeks to Leibniz With Special Emphasis on Spinoza

Anthony DeSantis
University of South Florida
My dissertation lays out some of the chief philosophical precursors to Jonathan Israel's Radical Enlightenment. It investigates the principal question of Will Durant's The Age of Voltaire: "How did it come about that a major part of the educated classes in Europe and America has lost faith in the theology that for fifteen centuries gave supernatural sanctions and supports to the precarious and uncongenial moral code upon which Western civilization has been based?" The aim of this project is both broad and specific: the first is to provide a general history of the philosophical precursors to the Radical Enlightenment up until the early modern period, and the second is to highlight one of these precursors in detail, which I do in the large Spinoza part. With the assistance of a great deal of scholarship in philosophy of religion, history of philosophy, theological analysis, biblical criticism, and historiography, my dissertation contends that the major philosophical precursors against orthodox faith in revelation and for the Radical Enlightenment have been derived primarily from several forces. I present some of the general arguments of some of the pre-Socratics and Greek philosophers, especially Socrates and Plato, emphasizing their rationalist and non-theological thinking. Then I point out how some of this Greek philosophical literature led to new philosophical and theological elements in some of the teachings of the Church Fathers, some of the medievals, and some of the scholastics, up to the early modern period. The core of my argument, however, begins to pick up steam at the Renaissance. With the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, and the early Enlightenment New Philosophy, everything changes. Renaissance textual criticism of ancient texts leads to the beginnings of some genuine biblical criticism. The explosion of naturalist-leaning explanations of nature via Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes and many others in the Scientific Revolution leads many to wonder if God is needed. The rejection of Aristotelian and Scholastic metaphysics by the New Philosophers, most notably, Descartes, undermine what for many provided the philosophical underpinnings for the Church and theology. And then "the most unkindest cut of all," the revolutionary historical and textual criticism of the Bible which utterly undermines and refutes Judaism and Christianity
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 42,369
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

.Eleonore Stump (ed.) - 1993 - Cornell Univ Pr.
.Marjorie Garber - 1999 - Critical Inquiry 25 (4):653-679.

View all 17 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Theological-Political Treatise.Benedictus de Spinoza - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
Illuminating the Radical Democratic Enlightenment. [REVIEW]Ericka Tucker - 2012 - Studies in Social and Political Thought 20:138-141.
Hume et les «Lumières radicales».Alexandre Simon - 2010 - Dialogue 49 (3):381-394.
Radical Cartesian Politics: Van Velthuysen, De la Court, and Spinoza.Tammy Nyden - 1999 - Studia Spinozana: An International and Interdisciplinary Series 15:35-65.


Added to PP index

Total views
5 ( #997,039 of 2,255,273 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #580,168 of 2,255,273 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature