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a fantastic read By Ann Thomson

original site Reading the advance of a mundane, only fabric perception of humans within the early Enlightenment, our bodies of concept presents a clean standpoint at the highbrow tradition of this era, and demanding situations convinced influential interpretations of irreligious concept and the "Radical Enlightenment."

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The Committee’s report on Toland’s work on 20 March 1701, incriminating a long series of passages denying mystery and affirming the sole use of reason in matters of religion,³⁶ was sent to the Upper House, which appointed another committee to examine the case. When it concluded that it did not have a licence to proceed against it,³⁷ the affair was quietly buried despite the Lower House’s reminders, and the case against Burnet was never brought. The Lower House’s continued pestering of the Upper House about heretical books, largely at Atterbury’s instigation, and the continued reluctance of Archbishop Tenison and the Upper House to proceed against them while condemning irreligion are a permanent feature of the early years of the century.

This study tries to demonstrate that the questions raised, despite their subversive nature, continued to exercise minds and play a role not only in polemical works such as the Syst`eme de la nature, but even for authors who rejected their irreligious connotations. Despite their neglect by historians and sometimes despite their authors’ intentions, these speculations contributed gradually and unobtrusively to the elaboration of a secular conception of humans in different fields. They are crucial to an understanding of later developments, however far removed the preoccupations of late seventeenth-century thinkers may at first sight seem from those of nineteenth- or twentieth-century scientists.

Davenant, The True Picture of a Modern Whig, 62. ²³ Holmes, British Politics in the Age of Anne, p. xxi. ²⁴ They feared both that toleration would allow irreligion to flourish and that the power of dissenters in Church and State would increase if dissenting mayors and others could hypocritically attend church services in order to remain in place. They accused those who defended toleration of favouring dissent and endangering the Church. ²⁶ The attacks on freethinkers and the accusations of irreligion were a stick with which to beat the Whigs and the latitudinarian church hierarchy, in particular Archbishop Tenison.

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