Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity by Stephen Edelston Toulmin

By Stephen Edelston Toulmin

Within the 17th century, a imaginative and prescient arose which used to be to captivate the Western mind's eye for the following 300 years: the imaginative and prescient of Cosmopolis, a society as rationally ordered because the Newtonian view of nature. whereas fueling impressive advances in all fields of human pastime, this imaginative and prescient perpetuated a hidden but power schedule: the fable that human nature and society can be equipped into certain and attainable rational different types. Stephen Toulmin confronts that agenda—its illusions and its outcomes for our current and destiny world.

"By displaying how diversified the final 3 centuries could were if Montaigne, instead of Descartes, were taken as a kick off point, Toulmin is helping damage the semblance that the Cartesian quest for simple task is intrinsic to the character of technological know-how or philosophy."—Richard M. Rorty, college of Virginia

"[Toulmin] has now tackled probably his such a lot formidable topic of all. . . . His goal is not anything below to put earlier than us an account of either the origins and the clients of our distinctively smooth international. by means of charting the evolution of modernity, he hopes to teach us what highbrow posture we should undertake as we confront the arriving millennium."—Quentin Skinner, manhattan evaluation of Books

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Human modesry alone (they argued) should teach reflective Christians how limited is their ability to reach unquestioned Truth or unqualified Certainty over all matters of doctrine, As Etienne Pasquier foresaw, the risk was that, pressed into the service of worldly politicd interesfg, doctrinal issues wOrlld betome fightirg,mafiffi: in the 1560s,he was alreadydeploringname callingberween the rwo sidlesof the debatewith "papists" denouncing "heretics", and uice uersa-and he foretold the disasters to which such name calling would lead.

The humanists hadspecial reasonsto deplore, condemn, andtryto head off the religious warfare that was picking up intensity throughout the 16th century, as antagonism between the wo branches of Vestern Christianity deepened. Human modesry alone (they argued) should teach reflective Christians how limited is their ability to reach unquestioned Truth or unqualified Certainty over all matters of doctrine, As Etienne Pasquier foresaw, the risk was that, pressed into the service of worldly politicd interesfg, doctrinal issues wOrlld betome fightirg,mafiffi: in the 1560s,he was alreadydeploringname callingberween the rwo sidlesof the debatewith "papists" denouncing "heretics", and uice uersa-and he foretold the disasters to which such name calling would lead.

The variety in political affairs is, in his view, an inescapable aspect of civic life, and, as such, it is also proper grist for the philosopher's mill. So matters remained up to the 16th century. When modern philosophers dismissed ethnography and history as irrelevant to truly "philosophical" inquiry, they excluded from their enterprise a whole realm of questions that had previously been recognized as legitimate topics of inquiry. From then on, abstract axioms were in, concrete diuersity was ouL From tbe Timely to the Timeless Finally, like medieval theologians, Renaissance humanists gave equal weight to concrete issues of legal, medical, or confessional practice, and to abstract issues of theory.

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