Reason's Children: Childhood in Early Modern Philosophy

Anthony Krupp

261 pages
ISBN 1611483161
Bucknell Studies in Eighteenth Century Literature and Culture

FINALIST for the 2010 Oscar Kenshur Book Prize

We still know little of childhood in early modern European thought. By reconstructing philosophies of childhood in the works of rationalists not known to have reflected upon children, Reason's Children expands our understanding of philosophical reflection on childhood in early modern Europe. Central aspects of early modern philosophical systems - Descartes's prejudice and method, Leibniz's divine justice,Wolff 's rationality, Baumgarten's aesthetic cognition - are reexamined in light of the peripheral status of childhood in their works. Furthermore, Krupp carefully examines the various children of Locke's Essay, most of whom have been neglected in histories of childhood. Beyond illustrating the blank slate thesis, Locke's children play other significant roles as well: as not-yet persons, as deficient speakers, and as changelings. The absence of Locke's actual statements concerning children from the intellectual history of childhood is a wrong that here finds some redress. This erudite and valuable work of scholarship examines concepts of childhood in European thought between 1630 - 1750 and aims to bring the topic of childhood to the attention of historians of philosophy while also contributing, historically and philosophically, to the newly burgeoning field of Childhood Studies.


"Moving easily between philosophical and literary-critical analyses,Krupp offers an interdisciplinary study that should have broad appeal. In prudently avoiding the temptation to subsume the many questions his work raises under one master narrative, he allows his reader to see the interactions between the different histories of childhood that have been written and that remain to be formulated. If the test of academic research is whether it serves as both a reference and a standard of analytic rigor for the scholars who follow, Reason's Children passes with flying colors on both counts."
--Jan Mieszkowski, Reed College (German Quarterly, Fall 2009)

"His well-written narrative is a valuable addition to a growing interdisciplinary discourse on children and rationality."
--Ines Meier, Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth.

"Krupp's book is enlightening and often exciting."
--Daniela Caselli, NEWF, 74 2011)

About the author:

Anthony Krupp is an independent scholar in Miami, FL. His seminar on the history and philosophy of childhood was among the winners of the 2006 Innovative Course Design Competition of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and is available online. He is currently researching childhood in Spinoza and in German-American thought from Kant to Kindergarten.


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