Toleration in Enlightenment Europe

Article excerpt

Toleration in Enlightenment Europe. Edited by Ole Peter Grell and Roy Porter. (New York: Cambridge University Press. 2000. Pp. ix, 270. $59.95.)

This volume collects the papers delivered at a conference held in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 1997, which was the culmination of a series of academic symposia dealing with the issue of religious toleration in England (1991) and the European Reformation (1996). In the eighteenth century, obviously, the notion evolved from a limited practice, religious tolerance, to a concept, toleration. This is the common theme of the different contributions, introduced by a synthetic presentation by the editors. Some of the papers have a more abstract perspective: M. Fitzpatrick, "Toleration and the Enlightenment Movement"; R. Wokler, "Multiculturalism and Ethnic Cleansing in the Enlightenment"; S. Tomaselli, "Intolerance, the Virtue of Princes and Radicals"; J. Israel, "Spinoza, Locke and the Enlightenment Battle for Toleration." They aptly present the theoretical basis for a form of acceptance of religious diversity. The level of discussion is, as expected, rather high and stimulating, Fitzpatrick's learned essay on the passage from toleration to religious Liberty being particularly illuminating in showing the limits-for lack of experience-of the Philosophes' concept of freedom of conscience.

The other contributions are geographical: E. van der Wall, "Toleration and Enlightenment in the Dutch Republic"; J. Champion, "Toleration and Citizenship in Enlightenment England: John Toland and the Naturalization of the Jews"; M. …