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"State of Nature, Stages of Society" – Enlightenment Conjectural History and Modern Social Discourse - Columbia Scholarship Online
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"State of Nature, Stages of Society": Enlightenment Conjectural History and Modern Social Discourse

Frank Palmeri


Frank Palmeri sees the conjectural histories of Rousseau, Hume, Herder, and other Enlightenment philosophers as a template for the development of the social sciences in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Without documents or memorials, these thinkers, he argues, employed conjecture to formulate a naturalistic account of society’s commercial and secular progression. Palmeri finds evidence of speculative frameworks in the political economy of Malthus, Martineau, Mill, and Marx. He traces the influence of speculative thought in the development of anthropology and ethnography in the 186 ... More

Keywords: conjectural history, Enlightenment, Progress, Modernity, knowledge

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780231175166
Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: September 2016 DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231175166.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Frank Palmeri, author