Cover: Power, Pleasure, and Profit: Insatiable Appetites from Machiavelli to Madison, from Harvard University PressCover: Power, Pleasure, and Profit in HARDCOVER

Power, Pleasure, and Profit

Insatiable Appetites from Machiavelli to Madison

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Product Details


$35.00 • £28.95 • €31.50

ISBN 9780674976672

Publication Date: 10/08/2018


400 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

13 photos, 1 table

Belknap Press


Explains how European thought came to abandon the old virtues and accept the ‘selfish system’ of utility… Wootton explicates complex social and political theories with admirable lucidity.—Jeffrey Collins, The Wall Street Journal

Wootton does not wish to take sides in the controversy between detractors and defenders of the Enlightenment: his purpose is rather to retrace the emergence of the intellectual and cultural revolution that radically transformed modern Western societies… Power, Pleasure, and Profit is an erudite book, full of learned asides.The Times Literary Supplement

More relevant to our current political and cultural circumstance than any other I’ve read in the last four years… Truly wonderful.—Lewis Lapham, The World in Time

Wootton’s notion of modest, practical Aristoteilian-esque virtue in the face of limitless appetite is a compelling one, and he stakes his claims methodically and persuasively.—Nicholas Cannariato, The Millions

Wootton presents the conceptual shift that gave birth to our life today in a book that is ambitious and impressive in its sweep… A gripping story of how ideas can change the world.—John Gray, New Statesman

Valuable as a wide-ranging…investigation into the philosophical revolution that made the modern Western world.American Conservative

This is decidedly not a traditional history of the Enlightenment as a philosophical or political project… Wootton’s Enlightenment ushered in a moral universe of unstoppable excess—one in which the pursuit of power, pleasure, and profit had no limit, for individuals or for societies… An unusual but fascinating foray into all the great themes of moral and political philosophy, from happiness to politics to commerce to love.—James Chappel, Commonweal

His erudition is impressive and his range of inquiry is vast… Wootton traces the development of three interrelated notions that together, in his view, displaced the moral and religious inheritance bequeathed by classicism and Christianity.—Darrin M. McMahon, Literary Review

Gripping… A fascinating story… The Enlightenment spawned a series of assumptions about what human beings are, why they do what they do, and what the good life looks like. We’re still hostage to those assumptions, whether we know it or not, and Wootton’s book asks us to consider the consequences.—Sean Illing, Vox

In the brilliant, penetrating and amazingly erudite study by David Wootton…readers are treated to an engaging tour of the ‘Enlightenment paradigm’ gaining in the process a more profound understanding of our modern political economy and ethical situation… This book is essential reading for understanding the climate in which we still live and which is exported worldwide through neoliberalism and globalization.—David Lorimer, Wall Street International

Through the writings of great thinkers, Wootton describes the birth of a new concept of human nature during the years 1500 to 1800… Wootton demonstrates a consistent ability to make complex intellectual ideas approachable… A surprisingly lucid examination of a dramatic revolution in human thought.Kirkus Reviews

In this deliciously written, stunningly erudite, and enchantingly combative book, one of our most free-spirited and original intellectual historians has helped us see the roots of the Enlightenment and thus our contemporary world with entirely new eyes.—Stephen Holmes, New York University

Full of spirited engagement, Wootton’s writing exemplifies iconoclasm, imagination, and verve.—Christopher Brooke, University of Cambridge

A work of exceptional merit. Wootton is one of the best intellectual historians in the Anglo-American world today.—Steven Smith, Yale University

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