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'The Age of Reason' Summary

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The Bottom Line

If The Age of Reasons creates controversy today, imagine what readers must have thought at the time the work first appeared! Still, the work was a bestseller in America, and an important representative work from the time period.

Pros

  • Presented in a clear, straightforward style (accessible)
  • Drawn from intellectual masters: Voltaire, Hume & Spinoza (along w/other influences)

Cons

  • Mocks/ridicules religiosity (may be offensive to some readers)

Description

  • A deistic pamphlet
  • Written by 18th-century British radical, Thomas Paine
  • Published in 3 parts--in 1794, 1795 & 1804

Guide Review - 'The Age of Reason' Summary

Thomas Paine is often associated with the American Revolution, because of his pamphlets; but The Age of Reason is still controversial (and has been banned) for its criticism of established religion and its challenge to the Bible. After reading The Age of Reason in 1757, Benjamin Franklin famously wrote: "I would advise you... not to attempt unchaining the Tyger, but to burn this Piece before it is seen by any other Person, whereby you will save yourself a great deal of Mortification from the Enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of Regret and Repentance. If Men are so wicked as we now see them with Religion what would they be if without it?"

Despite the controversy (and the many irate responses) that the pamphlet inspired, The Age of Reasons was a popular in America--the work struck a chord. It appears to have inspired deep-rooted passions--it brought punishment and imprisonment to those associated with the early publishing history.

Study Guide

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