Enlightenment's Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age

Enlightenment's Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age

by John Gray (2)
     
 

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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…  See more details below

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781134097050
Publisher:
Taylor & Francis
Publication date:
07/03/2007
Series:
Routledge Classics
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
327 KB

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Meet the Author

John Gray is one of the most internationally renowned and widely read political theorists writing today. The best-selling author of such books as Straw Dogs and Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, he is currently Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics.

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