Wootton’s erudition is impressive and his range of inquiry is vast

David Wootton gives us an Enlightenment that initiated the unlimited pursuit of power, pleasure and profit. It is the perfect Enlightenment for the age of Trump. Not that Wootton himself would celebrate it as such. His own view of it is somewhat mixed. And yet he is clear about its consequences. What he describes as ‘the Enlightenment paradigm’ ushered in a new type of civilisation, leading to ‘the triumph of the idea that power, pleasure and profit are goods to be pursued without end and without limit’. In this new world, ‘virtue, honor, shame and guilt counted for almost nothing; all that mattered was success.'”

Darrin M. McMahon reviews Power, Pleasure, and Profit for Literary Review.