2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Was there an English Enlightenment? ¾¾Historians on Eighteenth-Century England and the Enlightenment

Su-hsien Yang

Department of History, National Taiwan University

This article is a historiographical study. Its goal is to analyse the discussion of the “English Enlightenment” among historians. “Did England have an enlightenment?”, this is the usual reaction among historians. Although scholars hold that the Enlightenment was a pan-European movement, research on the Enlightenment usually focuses on the typical French case while ignoring other regions. There have been huge differences between historians on the English case. Some historians, taking the French Enlightenment as an example, argue that England did not experience the Enlightenment at all. Others think that the Enlightenment was multifaceted, allowing for a unique English experience in the eighteenth-century. This article discusses the historians’ dialogue on this matter. It is hoped that in this way a deeper understanding of the Enlightenment in eighteenth-century England will be achieved.


Key Words: eighteenth-century, reason, England, France, the Enlightenment