Historicism applied to the 18th century. Like Bailyn, Becker believes
that the commitment of these men to the ideal of liberty has been underestimated,
but unlike Bailyn, Becker sees this commitment as a defect rather than a virtue. He considers
it naive to believe in justice, and he shows that they made a pseudo-religion of
enlightenment. He criticizes them for trying to interpret history to support their
philosophy. He implies that there is an alternative, which he likes to think of
as objective history.
The book is well written and thought provoking. A good, but skeptical, overview
of 18th century political and moral thought.
Year Read: 1974
Libertarian Essays by Roy Halliday
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