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The Secular Enlightenment$
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Margaret C. Jacob

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161327

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161327.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 23 February 2020

The Setting

The Setting

Space Expanded and Filled Anew

(p.6) 1 The Setting
The Secular Enlightenment

Margaret C. Jacob

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the concept of space during the Enlightenment. Between 1500 and 1700, Westerners discovered two new worlds: one in the heavens, the other on earth. These discoveries coincided with and helped further a vast expansion of commerce that brought yet more peoples and places into the Western orbit. Celestial and terrestrial space were reconfigured. Christianity had to rise to the intellectual challenge presented by the new spatial reality. The findings of the new science displaced the earth from the center of the universe and thereby raised doubts about all traditional explanations. The discovery of new continents and peoples had an even more immediate effect. The Greek and Roman authorities long revered in Europe had not the slightest inkling of the existence of the Americas. Western peoples could no longer rely on the coherence and order long provided by Christian theology. In this way, the new spatial realities provided the setting wherein enlightened ideas first emerged.

Keywords:   Enlightenment, commerce, expansion, terrestrial space, Christianity, spatial reality, new science, Americas, Christian theology, enlightened ideas

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