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Historians of the Enlightenment are recovering their nerve. Until recently, it seemed that most of them had lost it in the face of the postmodern critique of the “Enlightenment project.” The critique itself had little to do with history, being loosely based on the disillusionment of the Frankfurt School and a general retreat from the celebration of supposedly “universal,” but really western, male values. But it was enough to disconcert historians, especially in the English-speaking world. Scholarship continued, but with a disinclination to speak of “the Enlightenment.” Instead of one Enlight-enment, historians talked of many, and played down their significance…

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