Thus, under all circumstances Gibbon attempts to conform to certain patterns regarded as 'philosophic'. These ethical patterns he owes primarily to his study of ancient philosophers, among whom he always refers to Cicero with particular respect. Now, the ideal of a true philosopher, as propounded by Gibbon, derives important elements from a different source. He feels himself not only as a descendant of the Ciceros and the Marcus Aureliuses, but as a partisan in the intellectual movement of the Enlightenment. His allegiance to this latter ideology is far more wavering and conditional, and he does not choose his place in the fore-front of the battle-array. But his frequent use of the term philosophy not only in a moral, but also in an intellectual sense, and even more the quite monotonous recurrence of the words reason and rational make it clear where his sympathies lie. Again and again he refers to the darkness of the past centuries, and to the blessings of the new era. Already in his 'Essai' he flaunts triumphantly 'le flambeau de la philosophie'. In the autobiography he expresses his gratitude for 'the bounty of nature, which cast my birth in a free and civilized country, in an age of science and philosophy'.1
Unfortunately, the self-styled philosopher Gibbon refuses to impart to his readers the foundations of his intellectual position. As a moralist he occasionally enlarges on
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Publication information: Book title: Edward Gibbon:His View of Life and Conception of History. Contributors: Per Fuglum - Author. Publisher: Akademisk forlag. Place of publication: Oslo. Publication year: 1953. Page number: 20.
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