By Sophie Bourgault
A spouse to Enlightenment Historiography offers a survey of an important historians and historiographical debates within the lengthy eighteenth century, studying those debates' stylistic, philosophical and political value. The chapters, a lot of which have been specifically commissioned for this quantity, provide a mix of available creation and unique interpretive argument; they're going to therefore attraction either to the student of the interval and the extra common reader. half I considers Gibbon, Hume, Robertson, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Herder and Vico. half II explores wider subject matters of nationwide and thematic context: English, Scottish, French and German Enlightenment historians are mentioned, as are the strategies of historic growth, secularism, the origins of historicism and the deployments of Greek and Roman antiquity inside 18th century historiography. members are Robert Mankin, Simon Kow, Jeffrey Smitten, Rebecca Kingston, Siofra Pierse, Bertrand Binoche, Donald Phillip Verene, Ulrich Muhlack, David Allan, Noelle Gallagher, Francois-Emmanuel Boucher, Sandra Rudnick Luft, Sophie Bourgault, C. Akca Atac, and Robert Sparling.
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However, his career was hardly less serendipitous than Hume’s, who went from philosopher to political and economic essayist and finally to historian. One suspects that history was only a form of expression for Hume, an interpretation of the problem rather than its solution, whereas Gibbon’s experience of becoming the historian of all six volumes of the Decline was intended as his comprehensive answer to the problem of how to read the present. ) But to stay with history, although it is interesting to assess how the Decline may or may not still be valid on particular facets of ancient, medieval or Renaissance history, we must be careful not to assess it simply from the vantage of our established discipline, and a codified, less esteemed sub-discipline, historiography, as both are practiced today.
Gibbon announces early on (ch. 3), no doubt programmatically, that the reign of Antoninus Pius “is marked by the rare advantage of furnishing very few materials for history; which is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind” (1:102). Gibbon will seem to embrace this eighteenth-century commonplace about the content of history37—and thus have little more to say about Pius. But there were other options. What I have called the narrative of corruption brutally emerges as a return to history.
173. Cp. 37). 20 Gibbon, Autobiographies, pp. 142, 173. 21 Gibbon’s treatment of the “Manners of the Pastoral Nations” in space is characteristically critical of this aspect of the philosopher: “Montesquieu, who has used, and abused, the relations of travellers, deduces the revolutions of Asia from this important circumstance”, the absence of a temperate zone buffering warm and cold climates (1:1029 n. 11); or “Montesquieu labours to explain a difference, which has not existed, between the liberty of the Arabs, and the perpetual slavery of the Tartars” (1:1032 n.