The Margins of Orthodoxy: Heterodox Writing and Cultural Response, 1660-1750

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The struggle between orthodox Anglicans and the deists, freethinkers, and 'atheists' who opposed their exclusive claims to religious power and political authority reveals cultural practices and ideological assumptions central to an understanding of eighteenth-century thought. In this 1995 collection of essays, leading scholars look beyond the clash of philosophical propositions to examine the role of deists and freethinkers as the producers and the subjects of literary, philosophical and religious controversy. They explore the curious symbiosis between the defense of orthodoxy and the elaboration of new forms of heterodox argument; they examine the practical implications of the debate in specific areas such as the libel laws and the growing influence of Lockean philosophy; and they show how the assault on orthodoxy influenced the development of historiography, public policy, and even the rise of the novel.