Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Craitu on the Moderate Enlightenment
A Virtue for Courageous Minds: Moderation in French Political Thought (Princeton 2012), my IU colleague Aurelian Craitu counters the rather negative portrayal of "moderate" Enlightenment thinkers, such as Voltaire and Hume, in recent political history books. For example, Princeton Professor Jonathan Israel's celebrated series of books on the Enlightenment (see here) celebrates more "radical" thinkers, such as Spinoza, Bayle, and Diderot, while dismissing the "moderates" as little more than apologists for the Ancient Regime. Craitu, by contrast, celebrates the courage of moderation, which he describes as "the quintessential political virtue." An indication of the quality of Craitu's scholarship is found on the book's back cover, where Israel, with whom Craitu fundamentally disagrees, praises the book.