As If God Existed: Religion and Liberty in the History of Italy [NOOK Book]

Overview

Religion and liberty are often thought to be mutual enemies: if religion has a natural ally, it is authoritarianism--not republicanism or democracy. But in this book, Maurizio Viroli, a leading historian of republican political thought, challenges this conventional wisdom. He argues that political emancipation and the defense of political liberty have always required the self-sacrifice of people with religious sentiments and a religious devotion to liberty. This is particularly the case when liberty is threatened...

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As If God Existed: Religion and Liberty in the History of Italy

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Overview

Religion and liberty are often thought to be mutual enemies: if religion has a natural ally, it is authoritarianism--not republicanism or democracy. But in this book, Maurizio Viroli, a leading historian of republican political thought, challenges this conventional wisdom. He argues that political emancipation and the defense of political liberty have always required the self-sacrifice of people with religious sentiments and a religious devotion to liberty. This is particularly the case when liberty is threatened by authoritarianism: the staunchest defenders of liberty are those who feel a deeply religious commitment to it.

Viroli makes his case by reconstructing, for the first time, the history of the Italian "religion of liberty," covering its entire span but focusing on three key examples of political emancipation: the free republics of the late Middle Ages, the Risorgimento of the nineteenth century, and the antifascist Resistenza of the twentieth century. In each example, Viroli shows, a religious spirit that regarded moral and political liberty as the highest goods of human life was fundamental to establishing and preserving liberty. He also shows that when this religious sentiment has been corrupted or suffocated, Italians have lost their liberty.

This book makes a powerful and provocative contribution to today's debates about the compatibility of religion and republicanism.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
In this thought-provoking book, Viroli contends that religion and liberty are not incompatible.
From the Publisher
"In this thought-provoking book, Viroli contends that religion and liberty are not incompatible."—Choice

"[T]he book is a very welcome addition to ongoing debates and will remind readers of a strand of Italian history deserving of attention."—Ted H. Miller, Perspectives on Politics

"This book makes a powerful and provocative contribution to today's debates about the compatibility of religion and republicanism."—World Book Industry

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400845514
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 9/9/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Core Textbook
  • Pages: 376
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Maurizio Viroli is professor of politics at Princeton University and professor of political communication at the University of Italian Switzerland in Lugano. His many books include "Niccolò's Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli", "Machiavelli's God" (Princeton), and "The Liberty of Servants: Berlusconi's Italy" (Princeton).
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Table of Contents

Preface to the English Edition xi

Introduction 1

Part I A Republican Christianity
1 Republics Protected by God 15
2 Images of the Civil Religion 21
3 Republican and Monarchical Religion 29
4 A Religion That Instills Virtue 33
5 Sacred Laws and Sacred Republics 37
6 Republican Religion and Religious Reform 45
7 A Religion to Live Free 52
8 Within the Soul 62
9 The Twilight of Republican Religion 72

Part II Religious Rebirth and National Emancipation
10 Without God 89
11 After the Revolution 103
12 The New Alliance 115
13 Literature and Hymns of the Religion of Liberty 126
14 Apostles and Martyrs 140
15 Masters 145
16 Regrets and the Quest for New Faiths 154

Part III They Got Too Close to the Light
17 Two Clashing Religions 175
18 In the Name of Christ 186
19 Inner Liberty 200
20 The Religion of Liberty 214
21 A Religion That Instills Hope 226
22 The Religion of Duty 235
23 As If God Existed 249
24 Only a God Can Expel a God 259
25 Leaving Life 268
26 Twilight 275

Notes 283

Index 329

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