The physical garden was to Sir William Temple and other Epicureans a reflection of one’s mental landscape, and in the best of all possible worlds, one would stay in the garden–a position that Voltaire would later and more famously endorse in Candide. Like seventeenth-century definitions of wit, Temple’s philosophy of the garden expresses a balance of judgment and fancy, those gendered faculties of the mind, and an appropriate blend of reason and passion. The act of gardening for Temple was the practice of freeing the self from the disordered passions, unavoidable but capable of being subdued like wild weeds. One needs only a patch of earth, a shovel, and a life of the mind.
Thomas Willis (1621-1675) thought there were two equal and opposite impulses at work when a person blushed, a modest retreat and an aggressive advance. In his book on mimicry, Dazzled and Deceived (2009), Peter Forbes has argued that all systems…
A small but significant body of English-language writing on Iceland started appearing in the last decades of the eighteenth century and the early years of the nineteenth, much which proclaims itself to be the product of exactly the sort of scientific and philosophical curiosity that…
The non-Western world was the “common” of 18th-century Europe, territory to be gradually colonized—fenced off, walled off, or hedged off—by powers looking to raise the value (and the rents) of their respective empires.
The concept of Africa as a unified region whose inhabitants share a common identity developed alongside the transatlantic slave trade of the eighteenth century.
In the wake of last summer’s debt-ceiling crisis, Republicans blamed America’s slow economic recovery on big government – or rather, the threat of big government. They claimed that a “climate of uncertainty” - a fear of future regulations and taxation – was keeping “job [...]
The memory began like a fairytale or Greek myth. A young soldier walked along a forest road in the Highlands in the summer of 1780, the fifth year of the war. Turning a corner, about forty yards off, he saw a young [...]