History, Memory, and Moral Knowledge: William Godwin's Essay on Sepulchres (1809)
Weston, R. (2009). History, Memory, and Moral Knowledge: William Godwin's Essay on Sepulchres (1809). The European Legacy, 14(6), 651-665.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/4075
In 1809 the radical English philosopher, novelist, and historian William Godwin published Essay on Sepulchres—a proposal to mark the burial sites of the morally great with a simple wooden cross. This paper explores Godwin's essay in terms of his evolution as moral philosopher and historian. While Godwin is commonly renowned as a utilitarian rationalist given to optimistic assertions on human perfectibility, this essay demonstrates the extent to which his moral theory depended on emotion and intuition and how he came to posit an alternative mode of historical perception which queried the progressivist assumptions of 'Enlightenment' historiography.
This is an author's accepted version of an article published in the journal: The European Legacy. 2009 International Society for the Study of European Ideas.