In the seventeenth century, a vision arose which was to captivate the Western imagination for the next three hundred years: the vision of Cosmopolis, a society . In Cosmopolis, Stephen Toulmin initially gives a series of proposed dates for the origin of modernity (see p. 5). Proposed dates: Gutenberg and the. Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity. by Stephen Toulmin. Free Press, pp., $ Stephen Toulmin has always been a.

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In the seventeenth century, a vision arose which was to captivate the Western imagination for the next three hundred years: While fueling extraordinary advances in all fields of human endeavor, this vision perpetuated a hidden yet persistent agenda: Stephen Toulmin confronts that agenda—its illusions and its consequences for our present and future world.

Rorty, University of Virginia “[Toulmin] has now tackled perhaps his most ambitious theme of all. His aim is nothing less than to lay before us an account of both the origins and the prospects of our distinctively modern world. By charting the evolution of modernity, he hopes to show us what intellectual posture we ought to adopt as we confront the coming millennium. Paperbackpages. Published November 1st by University of Chicago Press first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

To ask other readers questions about Cosmopolisplease sign up. Lists with This Book. May 13, Richard Newton rated it really liked it Shelves: I find this a difficult book to sum up. It opened my eyes to seeing philosophical, cultural and scientific theories in context -i.

The book is relatively academic, but I think anyone with a moderate smattering of intellectual and philosophical knowledge will find it accessible. It I find this a difficult book to sum up.

It is not like anything else I have read and that is usually a positive for me. It reawaken my interest in a couple of authors – especially Montaigne who I intend to go back to. A couple of issues. I could not at the end of the book exactly say what the hidden agenda of modernity is.

Perhaps I have a greater sense of looking beneath the surface of what concepts like Modernity apparently mean, versus a deeper cosmopoils. Additionally, the book was published inand presumably much of the research was done before then. View all 5 comments.

Stephen Toulmin

May 24, Homo rated it it was amazing. May 24, Jonathan Norton rated it it was ok. The first half is an excellent and convincing study of Descartes in the context of France in the early 17th century. This shows that Rene was well aware of the turmoil in the world around coxmopolis and that this gave the backdrop in which he found the earlier scepticism of Montaigne to be unacceptable. It also shows why his intellectual project would be attractive to other thinkers looking for a way to salvage or reconstruct the edifice of civilisation that seemed to be toppling in apocalyptic times.

Toulmin is less successful in the second half, when he tries to stretch these ideas very thinly as an “agenda of modernity” this is supposed to explain much of the cultural politics of the next years. This gets awfully silly and at its worse it descends in to dreadful pop-Hegelianism that seems to be assuming History toulkin a natural telos toward western liberal humanism, which is precisely the kind of de-particularised facile universalism that is “rationalism” at its worse – his ostensible target.

Of course at the end of 80s all sorts of people were thinking this way, Francis Cosmopoliis God help us being the most prominent. Some of the “looking ahead” musings here got dated awfully quickly – the 90s turned out to see a revival of interest in nationalism, rather than the inexorable progress of trans-nationalism expected.

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And Stephen seems to be expecting Gorbachev to be around much longer than he was. On a positive note, he had moments when he was quite aware that things are not always rosy and we might not be slouching towards Eden. He is also keen to stress that his is not concerned for any kind of constructionist trivialism of science or glib anti-rationalism – he was a serious coamopolis, not a tuppence ha’penny hack like Bryan Appleyard or any of the dozens of dreary windbags with their second-hand never-read references to Kuhn and “scientism”.

He was a former student of Wittgenstein who made his name with the influential “anti-logic book” as Strawson called it “The Uses Of Arguments”, which first drew attention to how real debates function in dimensions beyond simple battles between alternative sets of propositions and their formal entailments.

Trouble is, he forgets his own lesson, and treats “the modern world view” as if it were precisely such a bundle of axioms, rather than anything to live by. Didn’t that and Aristotelianism serve any conservative polemical purposes? In any case, who are the constituency that held these views?

It is ridiculous to suggest that any kind of cultural consensus existed in the s or 30s on logical positivism or guided by the Vienna Circle; plenty of movements were pulling in other directions. What both writers would agree about is a scepticism about reports of a “post-modern toulmmin or distinctive rupture, as opposed to modernity’s continued evolution.

STEPHEN TOULMIN: Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity

In that respect they were both correct, but with different arguments. Berman’s modernity lives in the streets of New York; Toulmin remained in the abstract cloud-city of Cosmopolis, even when he desired to escape from it.

But there are plenty of worthwhile ideas in here, just read the final chapters as a period piece. Mar 02, thad. Highly recommended read for those interested in this stuff. Toulmin traces back the start of Modernity and the Quest for Certainty and stability. Contrary to the popular narrative, he finds that Modernity actually started in the 16th century with a more humanistic flavor in Erasmus, Montaigne, Shakespeare, etc.

Looking at the writings of these writers and others in the 17th century, in their context rather than in the abstracthe argues that Descartes and Newton’s Quest for Certainty which Highly recommended read for those interested in this stuff. Looking at the writings of these writers and others in the 17th century, in their context rather than in the abstracthe argues that Descartes and Newton’s Quest for Certainty which is still with us began in part due to the circumstances they lived in — e.

Descartes, and subsequetly natural science and philosophy, sought universal, stable theories that would rise above the conflicts of the day. Toulmin ends by arguing that we must humanize Modernity or the post-modern and return to the diversity and plurality that marked the writings of the 16th century writers.

Jun 13, Imen added it Shelves: After reading Cosmopolis, i couldn’t write down my thoughts in a full paragraph or essay, but rather than just a disordered peom if i am allowed to call it a poem.

Mar 16, cognisant rated it liked it. A good under-grad level book on modernity. It wasn’t as original or as radical as I’d hoped.

Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity by Stephen Toulmin

Toulmin tries to distinguish himself from Habermas but really his argument and position is cosmopoli. Just a step closer to the bourgiosie and further from the prole to use cowmopolis that just about still made sense in 92 than Habermas. The argument essentially is that there were rationalist and humanist strands to modern thought and the Cartian won out over the Mointaignian because it made practical sense to A good under-grad level book on modernity.


The argument essentially is that there were rationalist and humanist strands to modern thought and the Cartian won out over the Mointaignian because it made practical sense to the ruling elite as a response to the disasters of the Thirty Years War.

Fair enough but he’s not convincing that the children of that elite have strong practical reasons to soften their surface allegiance to the “logic” of “scientific” “rationalism”. Neither, to be fair, is Habermas. Interesting, but for all the lip service to supranational cooperation and the legitimacy of “the lower orders'” demands this account still woefully and wilfully avoids any serious attempt to flatten or reverse inequalities toulminn resources and political voice.

Oct 09, Sagely rated it really liked it.

Brian O’C Leggett

I read Toulmin’s Cosmopolis for a DMin course. I heartily enjoyed the story Toulmin weaves. Below find my “working outline” of Toulmin’s text. Already in the Preface, Toulmin suggests that a better narration of Modernity starts not with Descartes and Galileo but coemopolis 16th-century humanist like Montaigne.

From the very first pages of Cosmopolis Toulmin also establishes the forward-reaching effects of how we choose to narrate Modernity.

As Toulmin returns to in ch 5, midth-century narrations of Modernity echo ways in which 17th-century folk opted to describe their times. Ch One Toulmin enters his re-narration of Modernity by searching out more definite beginning and end points for Modernity. He goes on, “age-old traditions are sometimes conjured into existence cosmopollis after the event, and the circumstances of their creation throw as much light on the times in which they were invented and accepted as they do on the times to which they ostensibly refer.

The start of the 17th century saw a Northern Protestant Europe bathed in prosperity and leisure. Print technology expanded literacy. Culture broke free from religious strictures. The maxims of Scholasticism no longer satisfied those who wished to think and learn for themselves.

This context gave rise to new methods in philosophy and natural science. But Toulmin proceeds to trouble or unseat each of these assumptions about the 17th- century context. The 17th century was not prosperity but crisis for Europe: Far from breaking away from religious censure, theologian and philosopher both became more doctrinaire and dogmatic as ideological battlelines hardened between Protestant and Catholic. And literacy was already widespread by the 16th century, with the 17th century witnessing a narrowing of literary creativity.

Toulmin suggests that the 17th century actually witnessed a restriction of rationality, from an Aristotelian interest in practical, instantiated science to a Platonic devotion to abstracted theory. From here Toulmin turns to the 16th-century Humanists, particularly Montaigne. In this view, phase two Modernity effects something of an anit-Renaissance. Specifically, Toulmin maps a shift from pre fascination with rhetoric to a post obsession with logic, from case law and case ethics to universal moral theology, from ethnographic accounts of the local to abstract model of how societies ought to run, from timely application to the matter at hand to a timeless truths.

The 17th century marks the ascendancy of theory. To begin to answer this question, he directs the reader to the assassination of Henry of Navarre in The fabric of cosmopolis was felt to be unraveling.

The political, economic, and social crises laid the groundwork for an intellectual and theological turn toward certainty, modeled on Eculidean geometry. This turn reverberated in understandings of natural science and physics cf.