Power, Pleasure, and Profit: Insatiable Appetites from Machiavelli to Madison

Backorder (temporarily out of stock)

Product Details

Belknap Press
Publish Date
6.4 X 1.2 X 9.3 inches | 1.6 pounds
BISAC Categories:

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

David Wootton is the Anniversary Professor at the University of York. His previous books include Paolo Sarpi, Bad Medicine, and Galileo. He gave the Raleigh Lectures at the British Academy in 2008, the Carlyle Lectures at the University of Oxford in 2014, and the Benedict Lecture at Boston University in 2014.


A work of exceptional merit. Wootton is one of the best intellectual historians in the Anglo-American world today.--Steven Smith, Yale University
In this deliciously written, stunningly erudite, and enchantingly combative book, one of our most free-spirited and original intellectual historians has helped us see the roots of the Enlightenment and thus our contemporary world with entirely new eyes.--Stephen Holmes, New York University
Full of spirited engagement, Wootton's writing exemplifies iconoclasm, imagination, and verve.--Christopher Brooke, University of Cambridge
Through the writings of great thinkers, Wootton describes the birth of a new concept of human nature during the years 1500 to 1800... Wootton demonstrates a consistent ability to make complex intellectual ideas approachable... A surprisingly lucid examination of a dramatic revolution in human thought.--Kirkus Reviews (09/01/2018)
Explains how European thought came to abandon the old virtues and accept the 'selfish system' of utility...Wootton explicates complex social and political theories with admirable lucidity.--Jeffrey Collins"Wall Street Journal" (10/05/2018)
More relevant to our current political and cultural circumstance than any other I've read in the last four years...Truly wonderful.--Lewis Lapham"The World in Time" (11/09/2018)
Wootton presents the conceptual shift that gave birth to our life today in a book that is ambitious and impressive in its sweep...A gripping story of how ideas can change the world.--John Gray"New Statesman" (11/07/2018)
This is decidedly not a traditional history of the Enlightenment as a philosophical or political project...Wootton's Enlightenment ushered in a moral universe of unstoppable excess--one in which the pursuit of power, pleasure, and profit had no limit, for individuals or for societies...An unusual but fascinating foray into all the great themes of moral and political philosophy, from happiness to politics to commerce to love.--James Chappel"Commonweal" (10/29/2018)
His erudition is impressive and his range of inquiry is vast... Wootton traces the development of three interrelated notions that together, in his view, displaced the moral and religious inheritance bequeathed by classicism and Christianity.--Darrin M. McMahon"Literary Review" (12/01/2018)
Gripping...A fascinating story...The Enlightenment spawned a series of assumptions about what human beings are, why they do what they do, and what the good life looks like. We're still hostage to those assumptions, whether we know it or not, and Wootton's book asks us to consider the consequences.-- (01/23/2019)
Wootton's notion of modest, practical Aristoteilian-esque virtue in the face of limitless appetite is a compelling one, and he stakes his claims methodically and persuasively.--Nicholas Cannariato"The Millions" (01/09/2019)