Lessing and the Enlightenment: His Philosophy of Religion and its Relation to Eighteenth Century Thought [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 23 (1):123-123 (1969)
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This is an articulate and intelligent book on the greatest German thinker of the period between Leibniz and Kant. Lessing's position had been a rather complex one. Irritated by the flatness of the Aufklärung and its deism yet opposed to the historical claims of Christianity, he attempted to elaborate a philosophy of history in which the tenets of historical religion would receive their just appreciation. The author of the present book is extremely well versed in the philosophical and theological context of Lessing's thought and it is only after a most valuable first part on "Historical Background" that he initiates us into Lessing's thought proper. Attacks on Lessing, especially after the publication of Reimarus' writings, were frequent and we are given our share of some of the best or at least most interesting criticisms raised against Lessing. At the end of the book there is a particularly fine chapter on the Leibnizean roots of his philosophy of religion.--M. J. V.



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