Modern Paganism Revisited

England was an outlier in the age of Enlightenment. It saw neither the emergence of an adversarial intelligentsia nor the rise of a new science of society. If there was an English Enlightenment, it was understated, unobtrusive and of a peculiarly conservative cast. These lectures approach the topic by way of eighteenth-century England’s acknowledged fascination with classical antiquity, focussing in particular on critical philology, pagan philosophical schools and ancient genres.

Lecture 3: Modern Paganism Revisited

The philosophies of ancient paganism informed English deism. More surprisingly, perhaps, ancient philosophy also occupied an honoured place in the arguments of the Church of England’s defenders. This lecture explores the significance of pagan antiquity in a Christian society, focussing in particular on the absorption of certain modes of scepticism.