Enlightenment

Gibbon: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Edward_Emily_GibbonThe History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon is an influential enlightenment account of Roman history from the peak of prosperity under the Antonine Emperors in the second century CE. Originally published in six volumes between 1776 and 1789, the later books bring the story all the way up to the fall of Constantinople in the fifteenth century, taking in the rise of Islam and the Crusades on the way.

Although his methods were soon overtaken by new standards of historical criticism emanating from Germany, Gibbon's preference for primary sources was notable by the standards of his own day. Then and later, most controversy attached to his assessment of the role of Christianity in Rome's decdine. More recently, scholarship of the period now known as Late Antiquity has defined itself against the image of the Dark Ages which Gibbon helped to popularise.

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Gutenberg: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, edited by H.H. Milman. 
Internet Archive: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol I | Vol II, edited by J. B. Bury (1914). EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
University of Adelaide: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, with Notes by the Rev. H.H. Milman. EPUB, HTML and MOBI formats.
Wikisource: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Multiple editions, though each currently incomplete. HTML and other formats.

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Milton: Areopagitica

Areopagitica_1644bw_gobeirneAreopagitica is a 1644 polemical essay by the poet John Milton arguing for freedom of the press. Written early in the English Civil War, at a moment when Parliament had broken the authority of Charles I's controls on publishing, it was unsuccessful in dissuading the dominant Presbyterian faction from instituting its own censorship. It nevertheless became a formative influence on later arguments for freedom of speech in the  liberal tradition.

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Dartmouth College: Areopagitica. HTML format.

Gutenberg: Areopagitica. HTML, EPUB, Kindle and TXT formats.

Internet Archive. English Minor Poems, Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes, Areopagitica. Britannica Great Books edition. EPUB, TXT, MOBI and PDF formats.

Internet Archive. Areopagitica. Clarendon (1894) with notes by John W. Hales. EPUB, TXT, MOBI and PDF formats.

Internet Archive: Essays Civil and Moral and The New Atlantis by Francis Bacon, Areopagitica and Tractate on Education by John Milton and Religio Medici by Thomas Brown. Harvard Classics, Vol 3. EPUB, TXT, MOBI and PDF formats.

University of Adelaide: Areopagitica. PDF, EPUB, TXT and Kindle formats.

Wikisource: Areopagitica. HTML and other formats. See also Harvard Classics edition.

Other Resources

Librivox: Areopagitica | Areopagitica (version 2) - public domain audiobooks.

Wikipedia: John Milton - Areopagitica

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Euripides: The Suppliants - quoted at the start of the text.

Isocrates: Areopagitikos - the inspiration for the title of Milton's work.

John Aubrey: Brief Lives - includes a life of Milton.

Harold Bloom's Western Canon: includes the Areopagitica.


Swift: Gulliver's Travels

800px-Captain_lemuel_gulliverGulliver's Travels is a 1726 work by Jonathan Swift, now most often read in versions adapted for children, but originally a sharp satire of contemperary Europe.

Gulliver's successive encounters with the people of Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa and with the Houyhnhnms, raise questions about the nature and influence of society that contrast, perhaps deliberately, with the individualism of Swift's contemporary, Daniel Defoe, in Robinson Crusoe.

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Gutenberg: Gulliver's Travels Into Several Remote Nations of the World. HTML, EPUB, Kindle and TXT formats.

Internet Archive: Gullivers' Travels. EPUB, Kindle and PDF formats.

University of Adelaide: Gullivers Travels. HTML, EPUB, and MOBI formats.

Wikisource: Gulliver's Travels

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Kant: The Critique of Pure Reason

Immanuel_Kant_(painted_portrait)The Critique of Pure Reason (German: Kritik der reinen Vernunft), often known as the First Critique, is a 1781 work by Immanuel Kant. It is a foundational text of modern Western philosophy, proposing a 'Copernican turn' in the approach to central questions posed by previous thinkers. Rather than assuming that the mind must conform to its objects, Kant posited that objects must conform to our minds. Objects must conform to the conditions of possible experience to be experienced at all, and so we can know that they will conform to them, but that knowledge does not extend beyond our experience, to things as they are in themselves, limiting our ability to make many traditional metaphysical claims.

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Early Modern Texts: The Critique of Pure Reason, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg: The Critique of Pure Reason. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Critique of Pure Reason, translated by J.M.D. Meiklejohn (Everyman's Library edition, 1934). Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: The Critique of Pure Reason, translated by J.M.D. Meiklejohn. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Multiple English translations including J.M.D. Meiklejohn, F. Max Müller and Norman Kemp Smith. HTML and other formats.

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Berkeley: Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous

George_Berkeley._Line_engraving._Wellcome_V0000473Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous is a 1713 philosophical work by George Berkeley, written as a dialogue in which the characters discuss the metaphysical ideas which Berkeley had previously propounded to some criticism in A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.

The two characters are given Greek names which reflect their respective commitments. Hylas is named after the Greek word for matter and takes a materialist position. Philonous, 'lover of mind', defends an idealist stance which is largely Berkeley's own.

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Early Modern Texts: Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg: Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous (1901). Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. HTML and other formats.

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Berkeley: A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge

George_Berkeley_by_Jonh_SmibertA Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge is a 1710 work by George Berkeley, which sets out an idealist theory of knowledge, similar to that of Locke, in the service of a radically different idealist metaphysics. Berkeley argues that the source of our ideas cannot be material things, but only other ideas, and the ultimate basis of objective reality is therefore the existence of ideas in the mind of God.

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Early Modern Texts: The Principles of Human Knowledge, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg : A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Principles of Human Knowledge (1907). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Principles of Human Knowledge, with works by Locke and Hume. (Great Books of the Western World edition, 1937). Multiple formats.

Trinity College Dublin: A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. Multiple Formats.

Wikisource: A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. HTML and other formats.

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Hume: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

DavidHumeDialogues Concerning Natural Religion, by David Hume (1711-1776), was first published  in 1779. The choice of the dialogue form, modelled on Cicero, as well as its posthumous appearance, reflected the work's far reaching implications for contemporary religious authority.

The three central characters are Cleanthes, an 'experimental theist', typical of eighteenth century progressive theologians, Demea, a traditionalist mystic, and Philo, a radical sceptic, whose views are often taken to be closest to Hume's own. While there is some debate over whether Hume's position entailed strict athiesm, or allowed for some philsopophical conceptions of God such as deism, he is generally seen as hostile to organised religion.

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Early Modern Texts: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, edited by Henry D. Aitken (Hafner Library of Classics, 1948). Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. HTML and other formats.

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Hume: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Painting_of_David_HumeAn Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is a 1748 work by David Hume. It is often known as the First Enquiry, as distinguished from the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Human Morals. Both works provide succinct accounts of aspects of the philosophy originally developed in Hume's Treatise on Human Nature.

The opening sections of the Enquiry offer a theory of knowledge which owes much to Locke, while making a clearer distinction between sense impressions and ideas. Hume's more fundamental departure was his conclusion that there was no rational justification for our making judgements about the world based on cause and effect, and that we do so simply out of custom and habit.

In the latter part of the book, Hume applied his scepticism to a variety of metaphysical and religious beliefs, concluding however with a chapter recommending the approach of the more moderate Academic sceptics among the ancients, rather than that of the more radical Pyrrhonians.

He ends with a paragraph whose precise significance, as a criterion of truth or of meaningfulness, has been much debated by later analytic philosophers:

When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

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Early Modern Texts: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, and Selections from A Treatise of Human Nature (1907). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, with works by Locke and Berkeley. (Great Books of the Western World edition, 1937). Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding. HTML and other formats.

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Hume: A Treatise of Human Nature

David_Hume_EsqrA Treatise of Human Nature, published in three books in 1739-40, was the first major philosophical work by David Hume, who famously said that it 'fell dead-born from the press', leading him to recast his ideas in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals.

Hume's mature philosophy was nevertheless substantively that of the Treatise, which sought to put philosophy on an experimental basis like that of the physical sciences, rejecting metaphysical speculation as futile. It includes Hume's first account of his famous problem of induction, arguing that our belief in cause and effect is based on habit rather than rational justification. It was this sceptical attack which Kant later said ' first interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave my investigations in the field of speculative philosophy a completely different direction.'

A Treatise of Human Nature at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Early Modern Texts: A Treatise of Human Nature, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg: A Treatise of Human Nature. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: A Treatise of Human Nature Vol I | Vol II. Everyman's Library edition. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: A Treatise of Human Nature. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Treatise of Human Nature. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time: David Hume. Melvyn Bragg with Peter Millican, Helen Beebee and James Harris.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: David Hume (1711-1776) - Hume on Causation.

Librivox - A Treatise of Human Nature, Vol I | Vol II - public domain audiobook.

PhilPapers: Hume - A Treatise of Human Nature - bibliography with open access option.

Philosophy Bites: Paul Russell on David Hume's Philosophy of Irreligion. Podcast with Nigel Warburton.

Physics Today: Albert Einstein to Moritz Schlick - comments on the influence of the Treatise on the theory of relativity.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: David Hume - Kant and Hume on Causality.

Wikipedia: David Hume - A Treatise of Human Nature.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

John Locke: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

Hume: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.

Hume: An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals.

Kant: Critique of Pure Reason.

Kant: Prologomena to Any Future Metaphysics.


Vico: The New Science

GiambattistaVicoThe New Science (Italian: La Scienza Nuova) is a work by the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico, originally published in 1725 and expanded in several later editions. It provides a history of civil society, interpreted, in opposition to contemporary Cartesian rationalism, through the principle of verum factum that what has been made by humans can be understood by humans.

Vico's account of human progress and his insight into the difference between ancient and modern ways of thinking has led many to credit him with being the first true philosopher of history.

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Internet Archive: The New Science, translated by Thomas Goddard Bergin and Max Harodl Frisch (Cornell, 1948). Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Italian text. HTML and other formats.

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