Jonathan IsraelJonathan Irvine Israel (born 26 January 1946) is a British writer and academic specialising in Dutch history, the Age of Enlightenment and European Jews. Israel was appointed as Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, in January 2001. He was previously Professor of Dutch History and Institutions at the University College London.
In recent years, Israel has focused his attention on a multi-volume history of the Age of Enlightenment. He contrasts two camps. The "radical Enlightenment" was founded on a rationalist materialism first articulated by Spinoza. Standing in opposition was a "moderate Enlightenment" which he sees as weakened by its belief in God. In Israel's controversial interpretation, the radical Enlightenment is the main source of the modern idea of freedom. He contends that the moderate Enlightenment, including Locke, Voltaire, and Montesquieu, made no real contribution to the campaign against superstition and ignorance. Provided by Wikipedia