The Dream of Enlightenment is not quite the long-awaited sequel, since it only advances to the middle of the 18th century. Based on the evidence so far, however, even if the third volume does not appear for another 16 years it will be worth the wait ... [Gottlieb] wears his learning lightly with an engaging and entirely comprehensible sequence of crystal-clear paragraphs ... Gottlieb succeeds in the task he sets himself to place these thinkers in their contemporary context.
Gottlieb is fully aware of the monsters in the dream, but doesn’t allow them to dominate his book. He is committed to the positive aspects of inquiry, especially where scientific advances are involved...Gottlieb often makes fun of his philosophers, but gently, as a way of bringing us closer to them, and they emerge as brilliant, vulnerable humans rather than monsters of any kind.
Anthony Gottlieb focuses on some of the great Enlightenment thinkers, including Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Hume, Rousseau and Voltaire. He offers engaging summaries of their main ideas and choice details of their lives ... Mr Gottlieb has, surprisingly, chosen to end his book with Voltaire and Rousseau, leaving Kant for a later volume, a decision that some might question. That aside, The Dream of Enlightenment is an entertaining introduction to a range of daring thinkers of the long Enlightenment from Descartes to Rousseau. The author has a light touch, and his book is a joy to read.
He [Anthony Gottlieb] is on a mission to show that the great dead philosophers have been misunderstood and that they deserve to be taken seriously ... The Dream of Reason is now joined by this much-anticipated sequel, which picks up the story with Descartes and carries it forward to the beginnings of the French Revolution ...rejects the view of Descartes as a 'rationalist' who refused to acknowledge the significance of the empirical sciences: he was, on the contrary, a bold advocate of the principle that physical phenomena are generated by the mechanical interactions of tiny particles ... Dozens of other myths get their comeuppance in this well-written and fast-moving book ...Gottlieb risks undermining his defence of the great philosophers by depicting them as incorrigible fantasists, lost in their dreams of reason and enlightenment.