As a true man of the Enlightenment, in his parlor at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson had portraits of the persons whom he considered the three greatest men who had ever lived: Sir Francis Bacon, Sir Issac Newton, and John Locke.
There is a vast amount of specialized interdisciplinary academic studies on the origins of modern science, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and their roots in esoteric knowledge and occult traditions with the religious, philosophical and political implications which are largely unknown to the general public. These scholarly works have revolutionized and transformed how we view the history of the past 500 years and the beginnings of the Modern Age to the present.
LRC readers should begin with the magisterial works of Dame Frances Yates, followed by this powerful volume by D.P. Walker, Spiritual and Demonic Magic: From Ficino to Campanella.
Next I recommend these four illuminating books by Stephen McKnight: Sacralizing the Secular: The Renaissance Origins of Modernity; The Modern Age and the Recovery of Ancient Wisdom: A Reconsideration of Historical Consciousness, 1450-1650; The Religious Foundations of Francis Bacon’s Thought; and Science, Pseudo-Science, and Utopianism in Early Modern Thought.
Then consult this controversial work exposing centuries of Neoplatonic-Hermetic intrigue, The Occult Renaissance Church of Rome, by revisionist historian Michael Hoffman.
The essential, authoritative book in understanding how these ideas impacted political revolutions, from the French Revolution in 1789 to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, is Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith. It was written by James H. Billington, the former Librarian of Congress, and is truly one of the great scholarly works of the 20th Century. Here is an introduction and overview of the book by the author, and here is the book in .pdf format.
Sir Francis Bacon
“The status and reputation of Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626) is one of the great puzzles in the history of social thought. What had he actually accomplished to warrant all the accolades? Essentially, he was the metaempiricist, the head coach and cheerleader of fact grubbing, exhorting other people to gather all the facts,” writes Murray N. Rothbard. (audio version).
“Francis Bacon’s God,” by Stephen McKnight
Sir Issac Newton
Religious views of Isaac Newton (like Thomas Jefferson, Newton was not a Trinitarian, but essentially an Arian or Unitarian).
(Murray Rothbard’s father David, named him after the great scientist Sir Issac Newton)
Liberty and Property: the Levellers and Locke, by Murray Newton Rothbard
Finally let us turn to the United States and the ideological or intellectual background to its Founding.
One of the most important books written on the American Revolution in the last century is The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution by Bernard Bailyn. (.pdf format) It won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize. Through its focus on the transatlantic influence of republican ideology, Ideological Origins put ideas back at the center of the revolutionary narrative. In doing so, it helped spark an unprecedented burst of scholarship on the intellectual history of the origins of the Revolution that lasted for nearly two decades and whose influence lives on.
One cannot fully study the American Founding and the Founding Fathers without examining the arcane subject of Freemasonry and its substantial impact upon these men and events. The place to begin is CONSPIRACY IN PHILADELPHIA: Origins of the United States Constitution, by Dr. Gary North, followed by Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840, by Steven C. Bullock; Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Europe, and The Radical Enlightenment – Pantheists, Freemasons and Republicans, by Margaret C. Jacob; and The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook, by Niall Ferguson.
Highly recommended is the outstanding volume, Gnostic America: A Reading of Contemporary American Culture & Religion according to Christianity’s Oldest Heresy, by Peter M Burfeind. The author’s acquaintance with the scholarship of Murray N. Rothbard is both very refreshing and commendable.11:25 pm on October 21, 2018 Email Charles Burris