Enlightenment's Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age [NOOK Book]

Overview

John Gray argues that all the intellectual traditions of modernity are applications of the Enlightenment project, which has proved to be self-undermining. This effect was due to the project's extension of rational self-criticism and demystification to its own foundational commitments which ultimately dissolved them. From this position Gray argues that both the desire of fundamentalist liberalism to salvage the Enlightenment, and the traditionalist or reactionary desire to reverse it, are doomed to failure. The ...
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Enlightenment's Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age

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Overview

John Gray argues that all the intellectual traditions of modernity are applications of the Enlightenment project, which has proved to be self-undermining. This effect was due to the project's extension of rational self-criticism and demystification to its own foundational commitments which ultimately dissolved them. From this position Gray argues that both the desire of fundamentalist liberalism to salvage the Enlightenment, and the traditionalist or reactionary desire to reverse it, are doomed to failure. The central problem of contemporary political thought and practice, the author contends, is that of securing peaceful co-existence for incommensurable world-views in an intellectual and cultural context that is at once post-rational and post-traditional. While it is crucial to resist the re-enchantment of the world by new forms of fundamentalism, neither the Left nor the Right in any of their traditional forms are able, according to Gray, to offer a viable alternative.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
For readers familiar with Gray's previous works it may come as a surprise that he rejects conservatism in this latest critique, as well as liberalism, though further developing the seeds of a cooperative "green" approach to social politics. Gray's arguments rest in the slaying of Enlightenment thinking that continues to shape contemporary thought on the right and left, and which, he claims, undermines new, necessary alternatives. Gray advocates a post post-modern attitude, moving from theoretical criticism to implementation of a decentralized cultural cooperation and rejection of the traditional heritage of Western cultural imperialism as "the project of a universal civilization." Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher

'Gray is one of our best social and political theorists ... This powerful and radical work opens as many doors as it closes.' - New Statesman

'Gray is a clever and energetic political theorist in the analytical mode. He is also dauntingly well-read and up-to-date.' - Guardian

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781134097050
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 7/3/2007
  • Series: Routledge Classics
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • File size: 320 KB

Meet the Author

John Gray is a Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford. He has been visiting professor at Harvard, Yale and Tulane universities.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgements
1 Against the new liberalism 1
2 Notes toward a definition of the political thought of Tlon 11
3 Toleration: a post-liberal perspective 18
4 Enlightenment, illusion and the fall of the Soviet state 31
5 The post-communist societies in transition 34
6 Agnostic liberalism 64
7 The undoing of conservatism 87
8 After the new liberalism 120
9 From post-liberalism to pluralism 131
10 Enlightenment's wake 144
Notes 185
Index 196
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