The Pre-Postmodernism of Carl Becker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Becker wrote The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers, it was delivered first as the Storrs Lectures at the Yale School of Law in April 1931 and published the following year, at the peak of a distinguished career. Formed under Frederick Jackson Turner at Wisconsin and James Harvey Robinson at Columbia, he proved to be the most versatile of the Progressive historians, equally at home in American and European historiography. Adapting Richard Rorty's celebrated phrase, then, Becker might properly be seen as a 'pre-postmodern North Atlantic bourgeois liberal'. If The Heavenly City strikes us, in certain respects, as an uncanny premonition of the postmodern critique of the Enlightenment, the reasons for it are perfectly intelligible. Becker's philosophical roots lay squarely in the tradition of American pragmatism, which has enjoyed so remarkable a renaissance at the end of the twentieth century; and he suffered just the kind of political disenchantment that seems to have been a central prompting for the postmodern turn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPostmodernism and the Enlightenment
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives in Eighteenth-Century French Intellectual History
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781136696213
ISBN (Print)041592796X, 9780415927963
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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