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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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Secular Lives

Secular Lives

(p.66) 3 Secular Lives
The Secular Enlightenment

Margaret C. Jacob

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks at secular lives, focusing on the ordinary, literate, reasonably educated eighteenth-century people who may be described as enlightened. They may not have been original thinkers like the great philosophes, but they enable one to see the Enlightenment at work in more “ordinary” lives. Secular and enlightened, they occupied time and space differently from their very religiously inflected contemporaries. Indeed, as participants in different activities, such men and women brought a set of interests different from those motivated by religion; one might say that their agendas were worldly and enlightened without being overtly hostile toward the religion into which they had been born. Secularity, like religiosity, entailed more than a set of doctrines, or heresies; it meant being at ease in this world with little thought about any other.

Keywords:   secular lives, enlightened people, Enlightenment, religion, secularity, religiosity

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