The logic of ideas in Christopher Hill's English revolution

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Foxley, Rachel (2015)

This article examines the role played by ideas and their thinkers in Christopher Hill's histories of the English Revolution. Hill protested against a reductionist economic determinism with no place for the intrinsic power of ideas, but his account of ideas gave them a progressive logic parallel to, if not always easy to link with, that of economic development, and threatened to divorce them from their muddled and imperfect thinkers. This account of the logic of ideas had a striking impact on the way in which the more mainstream radicals of the English Revolution appeared in Hill's work, with both the Levellers and James Harrington being half assimilated to, and half pushed aside in favor of, the more thoroughgoing economic radicals who expressed, in however ragged a way, the intrinsic potential of their ideas. However, Hill's writings also betray a surprising attraction to religious over secular forms of radicalism.
  • References (6)

    Works Cited Hill, Christopher. The Century of Revolution, 1603-1714. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 1980;

    first published 1961. Print. ---, The Experience of Defeat. London: Faber & Faber, 1984. Print. ---, “From Lollards to Levellers.”, Rebels and Their Causes: Essays in Honour of A.L.

    Morton. Ed. Maurice Cornforth. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1978. 49-67. Print. ---, Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965. Print. ---, Milton and the English Revolution. London: Faber & Faber, 1977. Print. ---, Puritanism and Revolution. London: Secker and Warburg, 1995; first published 1958.

    Print. ---, The World Turned Upside Down. London: Penguin, 1975; first published 1972. Print. Kaye, Harvey. The British Marxist Historians. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1984. Print. MacLachlan, Alastair. The Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England. Basingstoke: Macmillan,

    1996. Print. Macpherson, C. B. The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism. Hobbes to Locke.

    Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962. Print.

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