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The Reckless Mind Intellectuals In Politics

Author: Mark Lilla
Publisher: New York Review of Books
ISBN: 1681371170
Size: 56.90 MB
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European history of the past century is full of examples of philosophers, writers, and scholars who supported or excused the worst tyrannies of the age. How was this possible? How could intellectuals whose work depends on freedom defend those who would deny it? In profiles of six leading twentieth-century thinkers—Martin Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, Alexandre Kojève, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida—Mark Lilla explores the psychology of political commitment. As continental Europe gave birth to two great ideological systems in the twentieth century, communism and fascism, it also gave birth to a new social type, the philotyrannical intellectual. Lilla shows how these thinkers were not only grappling with enduring philosophical questions, they were also writing out of their own experiences and passions. These profiles demonstrate how intellectuals can be driven into a political sphere they scarcely understand, with momentous results. In a new afterword, Lilla traces how the intellectual world has changed since the end of the cold war. The ideological passions of the past have been replaced in the West, he argues, by a dogma of individual autonomy and freedom that both obscures the historical forces at work in the present and sanctions ignorance about them, leaving us ill-equipped to understand those who are inflamed by the new global ideologies of our time.

The Shipwrecked Mind

Author: Mark Lilla
Publisher: New York Review of Books
ISBN: 159017903X
Size: 44.25 MB
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We don’t understand the reactionary mind. As a result, argues Mark Lilla in this timely book, the ideas and passions that shape today’s political dramas are unintelligible to us. The reactionary is anything but a conservative. He is as radical and modern a figure as the revolutionary, someone shipwrecked in the rapidly changing present, and suffering from nostalgia for an idealized past and an apocalyptic fear that history is rushing toward catastrophe. And like the revolutionary his political engagements are motivated by highly developed ideas. Lilla begins with three twentieth-century philosophers—Franz Rosenzweig, Eric Voegelin, and Leo Strauss—who attributed the problems of modern society to a break in the history of ideas and promoted a return to earlier modes of thought. He then examines the enduring power of grand historical narratives of betrayal to shape political outlooks since the French Revolution, and shows how these narratives are employed in the writings of Europe’s right-wing cultural pessimists and Maoist neocommunists, American theoconservatives fantasizing about the harmony of medieval Catholic society and radical Islamists seeking to restore a vanished Muslim caliphate. The revolutionary spirit that inspired political movements across the world for two centuries may have died out. But the spirit of reaction that rose to meet it has survived and is proving just as formidable a historical force. We live in an age when the tragicomic nostalgia of Don Quixote for a lost golden age has been transformed into a potent and sometimes deadly weapon. Mark Lilla helps us to understand why.

The Stillborn God

Author: Mark Lilla
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 030747271X
Size: 67.82 MB
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A brilliant account of religion's role in the political thinking of the West, from the Enlightenment to the close of World War II. The wish to bring political life under God's authority is nothing new, and it's clear that today religious passions are again driving world politics, confounding expectations of a secular future. In this major book, Mark Lilla reveals the sources of this age-old quest-and its surprising role in shaping Western thought. Making us look deeper into our beliefs about religion, politics, and the fate of civilizations, Lilla reminds us of the modern West's unique trajectory and how to remain on it. Illuminating and challenging, The Stillborn God is a watershed in the history of ideas. From the Trade Paperback edition.

The Once And Future Liberal

Author: Mark Lilla
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 1849049955
Size: 56.57 MB
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For nearly 40 years, Ronald Reagan's vision--small government, lower taxes, and self-reliant individualism--has remained America's dominant political ideology. The Democratic Party has offered no truly convincing competing vision. Instead, American liberalism has fallen under the spell of identity politics.Mark Lilla argues with acerbic wit that liberals, originally driven by a sincere desire to protect the most vulnerable Americans, have now unwittingly invested their energies in social movements rather than winning elections. This abandonment of political priorities has had dire consequences. But, with the Republican Party led by an unpredictable demagogue and in ideological disarray, Lilla believes liberals now have an opportunity to turn from the divisive politics of identity, and offer positive ideas for a shared future. A fiercely-argued, no-nonsense book, The Once and Future Liberal is essential reading for our momentous times.

Neoconservatism

Author: C. Bradley Thompson
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1317255631
Size: 19.63 MB
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An obituary so soon! Surely the reports of neoconservatism's death are greatly exaggerated. C. Bradley Thompson has written (with Yaron Brook) the most comprehensive and original analysis of neoconservatism yet published and in the process has dealt it a mortal blow. Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea reveals publicly for the first time what the neocons call their philosophy of governance--their plan for governing America. This book explicates the deepest philosophic principles of neoconservatism, traces the intellectual relationship between the political philosopher Leo Strauss and contemporary neoconservative political actors, and provides a trenchant critique of neoconservatism from the perspective of America's founding principles. The theme of this timely book--neoconservatism as a species of anti-Americanism--will shake up the intellectual salons of both the Left and Right. What makes this book so compelling is that Thompson actually lived for many years in the Straussian/neoconservative intellectual world. Neoconservatism therefore fits into the "breaking ranks" tradition of scholarly criticism and breaks the mold when it comes to informed, incisive, nonpartisan critique of neoconservative thought and action.

Habermas S Public Sphere

Author: Michael Hofmann
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 1611479894
Size: 17.82 MB
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Habermas’s Public Sphere: A Critique systematically analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of Habermas’s classic public sphere concept to reinvigorate it for evaluating the liberal promises and realities of modern societies.

G B Vico

Author: Mark Lilla
Publisher:
ISBN: 9780674339637
Size: 16.58 MB
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The Italian scholar Giovanni Battista Vico is widely viewed as the first modern philosopher of history, a judgment largely based on his obscure 1744 masterpiece, New Science. In this new study Mark Lilla complicates this picture by presenting Vico as one of the most troubling of anti-modern thinkers. By combing Vico's neglected early writings on metaphysics and jurisprudence, Lilla reveals the philosopher's deep reservations about the modern outlook and shows how his science of history grew out of these very doubts. In works such as the untranslated Universal Right (1720-1722), a treatise on natural law, Vico emerges as a profoundly political and theological thinker who contrasted the authoritative traditions of an idealized Rome against the corrupting skepticism endemic in modern life. Vico explicitly blamed this skepticism on the founders of modern philosophy, particularly Descartes. Placed in the context of his critique of skepticism, Vico's "new science" of history appears in a wholly new light. Though modern in form, it can be seen here for what it was: a pessimistic vindication of divine authority directed against the freedom and reason that characterize the modern age. This first truly comprehensive introduction to Vico ties his concerns for authority, politics, and civil religion to his theory of history. As such, it raises provocative questions about the subsequent intellectual development of the anti-modern tradition as it relates to the historical and social sciences of our time. It is a brilliant antidote to the "standard" reading of Vico and will transform studies of his work.

From Revolution To Ethics

Author: Julian Bourg
Publisher: McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP
ISBN: 0773552464
Size: 45.52 MB
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Winner: CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book Award, CHOICE Magazine (2008) Winner: Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best book in intellectual history, Journal of the History of Ideas (2008) The French revolts of May 1968, the largest general strike in twentieth-century Europe, were among the most famous and colourful episodes of the twentieth century. Julian Bourg argues that during the subsequent decade the revolts led to a remarkable paradigm shift in French thought - the concern for revolution in the 1960s was transformed into a fascination with ethics. Challenging the prevalent view that the 1960s did not have any lasting effect, From Revolution to Ethics shows how intellectuals and activists turned to ethics as the touchstone for understanding interpersonal, institutional, and political dilemmas. In absorbing and scrupulously researched detail Bourg explores the developing ethical fascination as it emerged among student Maoists courting terrorism, anti-psychiatric celebrations of madness, feminists mobilizing against rape, and pundits and philosophers championing humanitarianism. From Revolution to Ethics provides a compelling picture of how May 1968 helped make ethics a compass for navigating contemporary global concerns. In a new preface for the second edition published to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the events, Bourg assessses the worldwide influence of the ethical turn, from human rights to the return of religion and the new populism.

Radical Democracy And Political Theology

Author: Jeffrey W. Robbins
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231527136
Size: 42.40 MB
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Alexis de Tocqueville once wrote that "the people reign over the American political world like God over the universe," unwittingly casting democracy as the political instantiation of the death of God. According to Jeffrey W. Robbins, Tocqueville's assessment remains an apt observation of modern democratic power, which does not rest with a sovereign authority but operates as a diffuse social force. By linking radical democratic theory to a contemporary fascination with political theology, Robbins envisions the modern experience of democracy as a social, cultural, and political force transforming the nature of sovereign power and political authority. Robbins joins his work with Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's radical conception of "network power," as well as Sheldon Wolin's notion of "fugitive democracy," to fashion a political theology that captures modern democracy's social and cultural torment. This approach has profound implications not only for the nature of contemporary religious belief and practice but also for the reconceptualization of the proper relationship between religion and politics. Challenging the modern, liberal, and secular assumption of a neutral public space, Robbins conceives of a postsecular politics for contemporary society that inextricably links religion to the political. While effectively recasting the tradition of radical theology as a political theology, this book also develops a comprehensive critique of the political theology bequeathed by Carl Schmitt. It marks an original and visionary achievement by the scholar the Journal of the American Academy of Religion hailed "one of the best commentators on religion and postmodernism."