We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Individualism and individual freedom comes out of the Scottish Enlightenment. And both Judaism and Christianity, although I've yet to complete Os Guinness' recent book on the topic.
Os Guinness argues that we face a fundamental crisis of freedom, as America's genius for freedom has become her Achilles' heel. Our society's conflicts are rooted in two rival views of freedom, one embodied in "1776" and the ideals of the American Revolution, and the other in "1789" and the ideals of the French Revolution. Once again America has become a house divided, and Americans must make up their minds as to which freedom to follow. Will the constitutional republic be restored or replaced?
This grand treatment of history, civics, and ethics in the Jewish and Christian traditions represents Guinness's definitive exploration of the prospects for human freedom today.
If one reads David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed one sees that the four successive, regional British groups that settled America each had a different definition of liberty. They overlapped, but were not the same.
Pinker's case is good, but not watertight. He tries to extract what he thinks best of the interrelated writers and call that The Enlightenment, and follow that. It is fair to not take every bad idea that any of them ever had and add that to the score of The Enlightenment, because those ideas did come from a dozen other places. However, some of the evil is not separable from the good, it flows from the same ideas and must be counted against The Enlightenment, even in context.
When one set of ideas is rebelling against the previous set, it seldom recognises that it is actually accepting 90% of the assumptions of the fathers and grandfathers, and could as well be considered an imitation as a rebellion. The Enlightenment was deeply beholden to what it claimed to be replacing.
Assistant Village Idiot