The Theological Origins of Modernity

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Overview

Exposing the religious roots of our ostensibly godless age, Michael Allen Gillespie reveals in this landmark study that modernity is much less secular than conventional wisdom suggests.

Taking as his starting point the collapse of the medieval world, Gillespie argues that from the very beginning moderns sought not to eliminate religion but to support a new view of religion and its place in human life. He goes on to explore the ideas of such figures as William of Ockham, Petrarch, Erasmus, Luther, Descartes, and Hobbes, showing that modernity is best understood as a series of attempts to formulate a new and coherent metaphysics or theology.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

"This book is an excellent complement to Charles Taylor's A Secular Age and a powerful counterpoint to Mark Lilla's The Stillborn God. All three hold that the story of modern philosophy is both superficial and hollow if its theological/metaphysical components are denied. Highly recommended."

Review of Politics - Stephen A. Erickson

"The Theological Origins of Modernity is not just informative; it is insightfully recuperative as well—helping us to understand ourselves better in the present. Though Gillespie only reaches our contemporary situation in his last chapter, we might hope that, incomplete as it unavoidably is, that chapter might form the nucleus of a successor work. At the end of his current book we are more than assured that Gillespie is up to the task."
Chronicles - Brad Green

"In this rich and dense book, [Gillespie] is self-consciously trying to correct the 'standard' understanding of the origin of modernity. Rather than being the 'victory of secularism,' modernity, he says, is a series of attempts to grapple with fundamental theological issues."
Review of Politics
The Theological Origins of Modernity is not just informative; it is insightfully recuperative as well—helping us to understand ourselves better in the present. Though Gillespie only reaches our contemporary situation in his last chapter, we might hope that, incomplete as it unavoidably is, that chapter might form the nucleus of a successor work. At the end of his current book we are more than assured that Gillespie is up to the task.

— Stephen A. Erickson

Chronicle
"In this rich and dense book, [Gillespie] is self-consciously trying to correct the ''standard'' understanding of the origin of modernity. Rather than being the ''victory of secularism,'' modernity, he says, is a series of attempts to grapple with fundamental theological issues."

— Brad Green

Chronicles
In this rich and dense book, [Gillespie] is self-consciously trying to correct the 'standard' understanding of the origin of modernity. Rather than being the 'victory of secularism,' modernity, he says, is a series of attempts to grapple with fundamental theological issues.

— Brad Green

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226293462
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 779,115
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Allen Gillespie is the Jerry G. and Patricia Crawford Hubbard Professor of Political Science in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and professor of philosophy at Duke University. He is the author of Hegel, Heidegger, and the Ground of History, and Nihilism before Nietzsche, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction 1

1 The Nominalist Revolution and the Origin of Modernity 19

2 Petrarch and the Invention of Individuality 44

3 Humanism and the Apotheosis of Man 69

4 Luther and the Storm of Faith 101

5 The Contradictions of Premodernity 129

6 Descartes' Path to Truth 170

7 Hobbes' Fearful Wisdom 207

8 The Contradictions of Enlightenment and the Crisis of Modernity 255

Epilogue 289

Notes 295

Index 363

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