1st Edition

European Thought and Culture, 1350-1992 Burdens of Knowing

By Michael J. Sauter Copyright 2021
    498 Pages
    by Routledge

    498 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores the main currents of European thought between 1350 and 1992, which it approaches in two principal ways: culture as produced by place and the progressive unmooring of thought from previously set religious and philosophical boundaries.

    The book reads the period against spatial thought’s history (spatial sciences such as geography or Euclidean geometry) to argue that Europe cannot be understood as a continent in intellectual terms or its history organized with respect to traditional spatial-geographic categories. Instead we need to understand European intellectual history in terms of a culture that defined its own place, as opposed to a place that produced a given culture.

    It then builds on this idea to argue that Europe’s overweening drive to know more about humanity and the cosmos continually breached the boundaries set by venerable religious and philosophical traditions. In this respect, spatial thought foregrounded the human at the unchanging’s expense, with European thought slowly becoming unmoored, as it doggedly produced knowledge at wisdom’s expense. Michael J. Sauter illustrates this by pursuing historical themes across different chapters, including European thought’s exit from the medieval period, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment and Romanticism, the Industrial Revolution, and war and culture, offering a thorough overview of European thought during this period. The book concludes by explaining how contemporary culture has forgotten what early modern thinkers such as Michel de Montaigne still knew, namely, that too little skepticism toward one’s own certainties makes one a danger to others.

    Offering a comprehensive introduction to European thought that stretches from the late fourteenth to the late twentieth century, this is the perfect one-volume study for students of European intellectual history.

    Introduction: Nosce Te Ipsum

    1. Imagining Europe

    2. Ancient Thought and the Medieval Synthesis I

    3. Ancient Thought and the Medieval Synthesis II

    4. Borrowed Syntheses—Medieval Muslim and Jewish Thought

    5. Post-Medieval Syntheses

    6. The Spatial Reformation

    7. Humanism and the Southern Renaissance

    8. Humanism and the Northern Renaissance

    9. The Protestant Revolution

    10. Tolerance and the Culture of Doubt

    11. Law, God, and Magic

    12. A New Certainty

    13. The Scientific Revolution I

    14. The Scientific Revolution II

    15. Jesuits, Jansenists, and other Heretics

    16. Science as Religion

    17. From Nature to State

    18. Platos Many and Varied

    19. A World of Numbers

    20. The Invention of History

    21. The Power of Reason

    22. Progressive Intolerance

    23. The Production of Isms

    24. The Industrial Revolution and its Discontents

    25. Space and Race

    26. From Urbanization to Urbanity

    27. Novels, Writers, and Readers

    28. Sex, Gender, and the Critical Mind

    29. Prophecy from the Margins

    30. Situating the Social

    31. The New Social Science

    32. The First World War and European Culture

    33. The Science of Rootlessness

    34. The Vacuum of Knowledge and its Isms

    35. From the Ashes

    Conclusion: Good-Bye to All That


    Michael J. Sauter is a professor of history at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in Mexico City. He is the author of Visions of the Enlightenment: the Edict on Religion of 1788 and the Politics of the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century Prussia (2009) and The Spatial Reformation: Euclid Between Man, Cosmos and God (2018).