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However, these individuals’ lives were not overtly dramatic despite their supposed radicalism: This was a really compelling read for a social history. A very out of the blue look at the Enlightenment that takes everything I’ve been taught so far and turns it on his head. Zijn oordeel over Rousseau is vernietigend en daarin slaagt hij de bal mis.

De passage van Diderot aan het hof en bij Katharina de Grote is hilarisch. He is best known for his novel, The Simmons Papers I was moved to consider the unintentional ways Gent simplify my understanding of the belief in rationalism, atheism, and science within this milieu. Blom sets out the problem at the beginning peligroea the book. Het is een fantastisch werk. This guy needs a fact checker.

Those of the radical Enlightenment were not afraid to take reason, science, and materialism to its ultimate limits: I wish books like this were around when I was a philosophy major. His work is ignored … His own philosophy — so fresh, so humane, so liberating — does not even appear in many histories of philosophy. There are few things that I would die for, but I would lay my life down to keep my country from adopting a state religion.

His message was too disquieting, too anarchic, too dangerous to be released into the world at large. Blom heeft wellicht zoveel prestige dat geen redacteur hem nog durft terecht te wijzen. The ideas expounded on by these protagonists are presented more or less historically in relation to the specific players involved; phillipp of the ideas themselves Blom points out are not necessarily all that new at all, some extending at least as far back as to Epicurus and Lucretius and the author briefly presents these ideas within their own specific histories — so there is often some overlapping involved but certainly not to the extent of creating confusion.

All brilliant minds, full of wit, courage, and insight, their thinking created a different and radical French Enlightenment based on atheism, passion, reason, and truly humanist bblom. Materialism is supported by more scientific evidence than ever but it is widely disparaged and regarded as a dangerous doctrine. Holbach enrolled at the University of Leiden in where he became a friend of John Wilkes, who went on to become a notorious English radical.


A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment

I found the account of their lives and those in their Paris circle engaging and saddening. Philipp Blom is a German novelist who currently lives and works in Vienna, Austria. But the book strikes a chord, and confirms my biased opinion that the radical, atheistic, hedonistic Enlightenment thought with its emphasis on the individual in a social context, going back to Epicurus, and influencing amongst others Nietzsche, Shelley, and dare I even suggest it, Dawkins, is a much better guide for today than the soft, watered down and much better known version with its deistic emphasis on Reason and System.

Rousseau was not, like Diderot and Holbach, an atheist or materialist, but that did not save him from condemnation. Ok, off to find some socio-cultural intellectual histories of the concept of the European salon in philosophical thought from BCE to the current day.

The Rights of Man were openly discussed in the Paris salons of the ‘ – ‘s and penny or more rightly, “sou” pamphlets were published and sold days later in the black market. The second volume in contains a number of articles by Holbach, he would eventually write more thanand the title page pays tribute to an unnamed person who is almost certainly Holbach.

Speculation aside, what I can say for sure is this book is very thought-provoking and piqued my curiosity regarding the Enlightenment and its thinkers. I wish books like this were around when I was a philo Pelifrosa account of radical French Enlightenment intellectuals, Diderot and d’Holbach, whom the author believes history has forgotten, partly because they were bold enough to be atheists.

I did like the extra information regarding their lives, how they changed, and the reflectivity of viewing their lives through their respective philosophies. Blom demonstrates that his ideas were at best a retreat from Enlightenment values and at worst sowed the seeds for peligross ideology.

Forgive my unmentionably irritating pun, but this is sacred to me: He is highly critical of Rousseau, whose theist position arguing for a social contract enforced by benevolent dictatorship because the modus vivendi preferred by Robespierre and his successors.


Even today, this vision has lost none of its persuasiveness and appeal. A Wicked Company is an attempt to portray Holbach and the circle that gathered around him.

A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment by Philipp Blom

This is explained clearly and at length, in a highly sympathetic and appealing style. Rousseau was a deist who rejected materialism and atheism. Quotes from A Wicked Company For optimisism’s sake, I’ll hope the rest of the book is nothing like it. But if you’re determined, keep your eyes open.

The absolute monarchies of early modern Europe were legitimised philopp the Church but the general will was a secular concept that ran entirely counter to official politics. There’s some valuable stuff in here, but it feels kind of muddled, since it’s such a mix between the intellectual history and the personal stuff. It was a dangerous idea, because a moral code based on the pursuit of happiness in this life had truly revolutionary implications.

Of particular interest for me was the clarification of different types of Enlightenment that Blom outlines towards the end of his book: A must-read for historians seeking to understand the underlying philosophies of the French Revolution and 20th Century philosophy. It became more prevalent in liberal circles following the Russian Revolution when Rousseau was seen as an inspiration for Bolshevism.

The weird thing is that his dislike of Voltaire and Rousseau his hobby h I have quite mixed feelings about this book. Superb account of radical French Enlightenment intellectuals, Diderot and d’Holbach, whom the author believes history has forgotten, partly because they were bold enough to be atheists.

However these would become precursors to our own sentiments on the subject: Even the form of the book would be revolutionary since its entries were arranged alphabetically giving no precedence to subjects such as theology, church history or social ranks. It certainly detracts from it as I would have given it four stars otherwise. The Baron and Diderot are at the centre of events, but there is an impressive cast of intellectual worthies including Hume and Rousseau, stretching even as far as the nascent USA.