The Heretical Origins of the American Republic
W. W. Norton & Company, Hardcover, 9780393064544, 566pp.
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
The ideas that inspired them were neither British nor Christian but largely ancient, pagan, and continental: the fecund universe of the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius, the potent (but nontranscendent) natural divinity of the Dutch heretic Benedict de Spinoza. Drawing deeply on the study of European philosophy, Matthew Stewart pursues a genealogy of the philosophical ideas from which America's revolutionaries drew their inspiration, all scrupulously researched and documented and enlivened with storytelling of the highest order. Along the way, he uncovers the true meanings of "Nature's God," "self-evident," and many other phrases crucial to our understanding of the American experiment but now widely misunderstood.
Stewart's lucid and passionate investigation surprises, challenges, enlightens, and entertains at every turn, as it spins a true tale and a persuasive, exhilarating argument about the founding principles of American government and the sources of our success in science, medicine, and the arts.
The U.S. was not founded as a Christian nation, says historian Matthew Stewart. He tells NPR's Arun Rath about his book Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic. More at NPR.org
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