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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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The 1790s

The 1790s

(p.233) 8 The 1790s
The Secular Enlightenment

Margaret C. Jacob

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the Italian Enlightenment. From the time of Galileo onward, the new science was ill understood on the Italian peninsula. The heresy hunters stood guard against a system that they believed led to atheism and materialism. The breakthrough toward Enlightenment came in Rome in 1707, when Celestino Galiani (1681–1753) and his coterie began experiments in Newtonian optics. Still, Galiani had little confidence that the new science would thrive in an Italian setting. Nevertheless, by the 1720s, the new enlightened culture with its European sources had arrived in Italian intellectual circles, despite the best efforts of the Inquisition to suppress it. The chapter then focuses on the distinctive intellectual vitality of Naples and Milan.

Keywords:   Italian Enlightenment, new science, atheism, materialism, Celestino Galiani, Newtonian optics, Italian intellectual circles, Inquisition, Naples, Milan

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