Introduction

  • Florian Schui

Abstract

Industry has been at the centre of some of the most formidable political and economic debates of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. This book is concerned with the pivotal decades of the eighteenth century in which industry became, for the first time, the focus of heated debates in France and in many other European countries. Voltaire and other prominent thinkers of the enlightenment1 were involved in these controversies in which the modern concept of industry developed. However, the concept of industry and the great accounts of the rise of industry are not normally associated with the authors of the enlightenment. Many historians have even questioned whether the contemporaries were at all aware of the great economic changes that began to happen under their eyes. In a way this book is an attempt to rehabilitate the thinkers of the enlightenment who stand accused of ignoring the beginnings of one of the greatest transformations in the history of humanity. This study aims to contribute to a more complete picture of the debates of the enlightenment by concentrating on an extensive public controversy about industry that occurred in the second and third quarters of the eighteenth century: many contemporary observers were keenly aware of the rise of industry and tried to understand, predict, and shape its development.

Keywords

Manifold Europe Steam Topo Defend 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    The question of contemporary awareness of the rise of industry and the ‘industrial revolution’ has been widely discussed among historians. See for example: D. McCloskey, ‘The industrial revolution 1780–1860: a survey’, in Joel Mokyr, ed., The econonomics of the industrial revolution (London, 1985), pp. 53–74.Google Scholar
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© Florian Schui 2005

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  • Florian Schui

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