Rival Enlightenments

Civil and Metaphysical Philosophy in Early Modern Germany

Rival Enlightenments

Rival Enlightenments is a major reinterpretation of early modern German intellectual history. Ian Hunter treats the civil philosophy of Pufendorf and Thomasius and the metaphysical philosophy of Leibniz and Kant as rival intellectual cultures or paideia, thereby challenging all histories premised on Kant's supposed reconciliation and transcendence of the field. This landmark study argues that the marginalization of civil philosophy in post-Kantian philosophical history may itself illustrate the continuing struggle between the rival enlightenments. Combining careful scholarship with vivid polemic, Hunter presents penetrating insights for philosophers and historians alike.


"...we should thank Hunter for a provocative and valuable book..." Paul Saurette, University of Ottawa

"Hunter's rereading of German intellectual history is original and controversial..." Review of Metaphysics

"Rival Enlightenments is a study of the German Enlightenment by one of the leading scholars of the history of European political, legal, and moral philosophy. It is a work of outstanding scholarship and originality." Economy and Society

'By this complex and fascinating structure of philosophical and historical argument. Hunter hopes to free his readers from captivity to the dominant Kantian picture of Enlightenment and modernity … This ambitious historical project is pursued through the interpretation of a wide range of major and minor primary texts over two centuries … This is an invaluable study for anyone interested in the Enlightenment and its continuing influence. In virtue of its scholarship and refreshingly provocative theses it should be at the centre of any debate over 'What is Enlightenment?'.' Economy and Society

'… a work of outstanding scholarship and originality …' Economy and Society

'… a book Kant scholars should definitively take notice of. Based on intensive historical analysis, Hunter rejects the common notion that the German enlightenment found its high point in Kant. He does so in favour of a reconsideration of authors such as Pufendorf and Thomasius.' Kantian Review

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