Darrin M. McMahon on the History of Equality

Hosted by Andrew Keen, Keen On features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the economic, political, and technological issues being discussed in the news, right now.

Andrew talks Darrin M. McMahon, author of Equality: The History of an Elusive Idea, about the long history and only-intermittent revelation of an elusive ideal.

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Darrin M. McMahon is a cultural and intellectual historian and a leading proponent of a new and revitalized history in ideas. His work encompasses the sweep of Western history from the ancient world to the present day, and spans both sides of the Atlantic, but the fulcrum of his research and writing is Western Europe in the long 18th century, the age of Enlightenment. McMahon is particularly interested in seminal concepts that emerged in the 18th century and have continued to exercise an important influence on modern culture. McMahon is currently the Mary Brinsmead Wheelock Professor of History at Dartmouth College. From 1994–2014 he taught history at history at Florida State University, where he was the Ben Weider Professor and Distinguished Research Professor. Born in Carmel, California, and educated at the University of California, Berkeley and Yale, where he received his PhD in 1998, McMahon is the author of Enemies of the Enlightenment: The French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2001) and Happiness: A History (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006), which has been translated into twelve languages, and was awarded Best Books of the Year honors for 2006 by the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Library Journal, and Slate Magazine. In 2013, McMahon completed a history of the idea of genius and the genius figure, Divine Fury: A History of Genius, published with Basic Books. It has recently appeared in French translation as La Fureur Divine: Une Histoire du Génie (Fayard, 2016). McMahon is also the editor, with Ryan Hanley, of The Enlightenment: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies, 5 vols. (Routledge, 2009); with Samuel Moyn, of Rethinking Modern European Intellectual History (Oxford University Press, 2014); and with Joyce Chaplin of Genealogies of Genius (Palgrave, 2015). His latest book is EQUALITY: The History of an Elusive Idea (2023).

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