From Publishers Weekly
While not another Heidegger and the Nazis-type exposé, this volume does explore the theoretical underpinnings that many European thinkers provided to the emergence of fascism and probe the historical and biographical parallels between post-modernism and anti-democratic and fascist thought. Wolin, a professor of history and comparative literature at the City University of New York and the author of Heideggers Children, is a thinker of extraordinary depth and precision, fluent in the language of Continental philosophys extremes. His accounts of the careers of such thinkers as Jung, Gadamer and Bataille are expertly researched and refreshingly fair-minded. And Wolins pragmatic hold on contemporary politics shines in his analysis of the rise of the New Right in Europe and its trans-Atlantic ramifications. Closing with a measured attack on the "disillusioned denizens of modern society,"Derrida, Baudrillard and Zizek among themWolin emphasizes the potentially disastrous retrogression of dystopian anti-Americanism into political apathy. His ability to resist the "seductions of unreason" reveal him to be an enduring humanist with a democratic core, one that, he argues, is threatened by partisans of both the traditional right and the postmodern left.
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"The Seduction of Unreason
is a wide-ranging yet subtle consideration of the intellectual's abiding fascination with absolutism, and as such it is a perceptive, compelling and invaluable document. His indignation at the folly and perversity of so many major European thinkers is wholly justified and peculiarly invigorating."--John Banville, The Irish Times
"[A] lively, learned, and wide-ranging work. . . . Wolin's subjects have exercised a remarkable impact on certain academic and cultural fields in the U.S. in the last several decades."--Choice
"For anyone who has passed through the academic humanities in the last quarter-century and has been exposed to the dubious legacy of postmodernism, The Seduction of Unreason
is an indispensable book. It is another important installment in what has become one of the major intellectual enterprises of our time: Richard Wolin's principled defense of liberalism against its most sophisticated enemies."--Adam Kirsch, New York Sun
"In this impressive book Wolin does for the Left what Bloom did for the Right; he makes a powerful case for a return to moral seriousness."--Daniel P. Murphy, Magill's Literary Annual 2005
"The topic of Richard Wolin's book is the nexus between postmodernism and politics. . . . Wolin's book raises the right questions at the right time. He forces us to think critically about the deepest philosophical underpinnings of our moral and political ideals. We simply cannot rest content with an unmeasured assault on reason."--Andy Wallace,Ethics
"This authors excellent study provides the reader with an informed survey of some of the more important intellectual trends of the twentieth century, employing the writings of a selection of Europes avant-garde authors."--A. James Gregor, The Historian
"Wolin's book will provide much food for thought for the disinterested reader and a veritable feast for critical self-reflection for the post-modern thinker--especially the North American academic who hasn't done his or her genealogical homework."--Jeff Mitscherling, European Legacy