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Enlightenment against Empire
Sankar Muthu

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"This is a remarkable book to come from a young scholar. Sankar Muthu has recovered a lost history of Enlightenment anti-imperialism, and shown us how its great exponents--Diderot, Kant and Herder--were able to combine a keen sense of cultural diversity with a steady awareness of what may be morally universal. The book is not only a virtuoso piece of historical reconstruction, but also a lesson in how a proper understanding of history equips us in unexpected and powerful ways to make sense of our own time."--Richard Tuck, Harvard University

"An impressive work of scholarship with a fascinating line of argument, Enlightenment against Empire is an important contribution to contemporary debate and a necessary corrective to one of its main tendencies. In very readable prose, Muthu demonstrates that the characterization of Enlightenment humanism as Eurocentric and exclusionary does not fit the three very important thinkers examined, and indeed that Enlightenment humanism provides valuable resources for rethinking moral, social, and political theory today."--Thomas A. McCarthy, Northwestern University

"Through close readings of Diderot, Kant, and Herder, Muthu analyzes an anti-imperialist strand in eighteenth century political thought. He sees these thinkers as providing a novel view of what it means to be human: 'humanity as cultural agency,' that is, membership in diverse social units with distinctive practices and beliefs. From Muthu's emphasis upon the thick notion of culture shared by these authors, he derives general arguments for human worth and respect, and rejects facile indictments of 'The Enlightenment' or 'The Enlightenment Project.'"--Melvin Richter, Hunter College

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File created: 11/22/2015

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