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The City of Man

The City of Man Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The "City of God" or the "City of Man"? This is the choice St. Augustine offered 1500 years ago--and according to Pierre Manent the modern West has decisively and irreversibly chosen the latter. In this subtle and wide-ranging book on the Western intellectual and political condition, Manent argues that the West has rejected the laws of God and of nature in a quest for human autonomy. But in declaring ourselves free and autonomous, he contends, we have, paradoxically, lost a sense of what it means to be human.

In the first part of the book, Manent explores the development of the social sciences since the seventeenth century, portraying their growth as a sign of increasing human "self-consciousness." But as social scientists have sought to free us from the intellectual confines of the ancient world, he writes, they have embraced modes of analysis--economic, sociological, and historical--that treat only narrow aspects of the human condition and portray individuals as helpless victims of impersonal forces. As a result, we have lost all sense of human agency and of the unified human subject at the center of intellectual study. Politics and culture have come to be seen as mere foam on the tides of historical and social necessity.

In the second half of the book, titled "Self-Affirmation," Manent examines how the West, having discovered freedom, then discovered arbitrary will and its dangers. With no shared touchstones or conceptions of virtue, for example, we have found it increasingly hard to communicate with each other. This is a striking contrast to the past, he writes, when even traditions as different as the Classical and the Christian held many of these conceptions in common.

The result of these discoveries, according to Manent, is the disturbing rootlessness that characterizes our time. By gaining autonomy from external authority, we have lost a sense of what we are. In "giving birth" to ourselves, we have abandoned that which alone can nurture and sustain us. With penetrating insight and remarkable erudition, Manent offers a profound analysis of the confusions and contradictions at the heart of the modern condition.

Synopsis:

"More than simply an intellectual history of liberalism. . .[this is also] a powerful and impassioned analysis of modernity. . . . [Manent] writes with a gallic charm or with an esprit de finesse that is able to convey philosophical richness as well as be a good read."--Steven B. Smith, Yale University

Table of Contents

Foreword Jean Bethke Elshtain

Introduction

Part One: THE SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS OF MODERN MAN

CHAPTER I The Authority of History

CHAPTER II The Sociological Viewpoint

CHAPTER III The Economic System

Part Two: THE SELF-AFFIRMATION OF MODERN MAN

CHAPTER IV The Hidden Man

CHAPTER V The Triumph of the Will

CHAPTER VI The End of Nature

Notes

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691011448
Translator:
Manent, Pierre
Foreword:
LePain, Marc A.
Author:
LePain, Marc A.
Author:
Manent, Pierre
Author:
Elshtain, Jean Bethke
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton, N.J. :
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
Modern
Subject:
Civilization
Subject:
History, Criticism, Surveys
Subject:
Philosophy, oriental
Subject:
Civilization -- Philosophy.
Subject:
Philosophical antrhopology.
Subject:
History & Surveys - Modern
Subject:
History & Surveys - General
Subject:
Political
Subject:
Political philosophy
Subject:
Religion
Series:
New French Thought
Publication Date:
19980412
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
248
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 18 oz

Related Subjects

Humanities » Philosophy » General

The City of Man
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Product details 248 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691011448 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "More than simply an intellectual history of liberalism. . .[this is also] a powerful and impassioned analysis of modernity. . . . [Manent] writes with a gallic charm or with an esprit de finesse that is able to convey philosophical richness as well as be a good read."--Steven B. Smith, Yale University
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