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Cambridge University Press
Civil Religion: A Dialogue in the History of Political Philosophy

Civil Religion: A Dialogue in the History of Political Philosophy

by Ronald BeinerRonald Beiner
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Civil Religion offers philosophical commentaries on more than twenty thinkers stretching from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. The book examines four important traditions within the history of modern political philosophy and delves into how each of them addresses the problem of religion. Two of these traditions pursue projects of domesticating religion. The civil religion tradition, principally defined by Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau, seeks to domesticate religion by putting it solidly in the service of politics. The liberal tradition pursues an alternative strategy of domestication by seeking to put as much distance as possible between religion and politics. Modern theocracy is a militant reaction against liberalism, and it reverses the relationship of subordination asserted by civil religion: it puts politics directly in the service of religion. Finally, a fourth tradition is defined by Nietzsche and Heidegger. Aspects of their thought are not just modern, but hyper-modern, yet they manifest an often-hysterical reaction against liberalism that is fundamentally shared with the theocratic tradition. Together, these four traditions compose a vital dialogue that carries us to the heart of political philosophy itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521738439
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 10/25/2010
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 450
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Ronald Beiner is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He has edited Hannah Arendt's Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy; his other books include Political Judgment; What's the Matter with Liberalism? (winner of the Canadian Political Science Association's 1994 Macpherson Prize); Philosophy in a Time of Lost Spirit; and Liberalism, Nationalism, Citizenship.

Table of Contents

Part I. Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau: Three Versions of the Civil Religion Project: 1. Rousseau's problem; 2. The Machiavellian solution: paganization of Christianity; 3. Moses and Mohammed as founder-princes or legislators; 4. Re-founding and 'filiacide': Machiavelli's debt to Christianity; 5. The Hobbesian solution: Judaicization of Christianity; 6. Behemoth: Hobbesian 'theocracy' versus the real thing; 7. Geneva Manuscript: the apparent availability of a Rousseauian solution; 8. Social Contract: the ultimate unavailability of a Rousseauian solution; Part II. Responses to (and Partial Incorporations of) Civil Religion within the Liberal Tradition: 9. Baruch Spinoza: from civil religion to liberalism; 10. Philosophy and piety: problems in Spinoza's case for liberalism (owing to a partial reversion to civil religion); 11. Spinoza's interpretation of the Commonwealth of the Hebrews, and why civil religion is a continuing presence in his version of liberalism; 12. John Locke: the liberal paradigm; 13. 'The gods of the philosophers' I: Locke and John Toland; 14. Bayle's republic of atheists; 15. Montesquieu's pluralized civil religion; 16. The Straussian rejection of the enlightenment as applied to Bayle and Montesquieu; 17. 'The gods of the philosophers' II: Rousseau and Kant; 18. Hume as a successor to Bayle; 19. Adam Smith's sequel to Hume (and Hobbes); 20. Christianity as civil religion: Tocqueville's response to Rousseau; 21. John Stuart Mill's project to turn atheism into a religion; 22. Mill's critics; 23. John Rawls's genealogy of liberalism; 24. Prosaic liberalism: Montesquieu versus Machiavelli, Rousseau, Nietzsche; Part III. Theocratic Responses to Liberalism: 25. Joseph de Maistre: the theocratic paradigm; 26. Maistrean politics; 27. Maistre and Rousseau: theocracy versus civil religion; 28. Carl Schmitt's 'theocratic' critique of Hobbes; Part IV. Post-Modern 'Theism': Nietzsche and Heidegger's Continuing Revolt Against Liberalism: 29. Nietzsche, Weber, Freud: the twentieth century confronts the death of God; 30. Nietzsche's civil religion; 31. Heidegger's sequel to Nietzsche: the longing for new gods; 32. Conclusion.

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