The Islamic World and the Radical Enlightenment

Toleration, Freethinking and Personal Liberty

In the 1660s and onward, the Radical Enlightenment pushed for full freedom of thought, religious freedom, and personal liberty together with democracy and the principle of equality. In this public lecture, Jonathan Israel, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the School of Historical Studies addresses how this part of the Western Enlightenment used medieval Islamic freethinkers and their ideas, and interpreted the special features of Islamic society and politics to illustrate and broaden its own arguments for transforming the Western World. In recent years, this intellectual movement has been much more intensively studied and better understood, and this lecture -- the outgrowth of a highly innovative colloquium recently held at the Institute, Islamic Freethinking and Western Radicalism -- highlights recent research into what might be broadly termed the Democratic Enlightenment.