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

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Routledge, Jan 1, 1997 - Political Science - 203 pages
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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 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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John Gray
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About the author (1997)

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

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