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Democratic Faith (New Forum Books) Hardcover – July 25, 2005
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"This book offers a serious philosophical and historical basis for current democratic theory. It makes a valuable contribution to the topic of religion and politics and is worthy of careful study. It is well written and immensely readable."--Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae
"Following in the footsteps of Christopher Lasch, [Patrick Deneen] is concerned to expose what he perceives as the ill-placed object of the democratic faithful -- a trust in human capacities for self-government and progress so perfectionist that it entails the transformation of humans into the divine creatures they can never be.… Unlike so much Christian commentary on democracy, Deneen pursues his critique not as prolegomena for the advocacy of an alternative faith but as a way of proposing a 'chastened' democratic faith, one that might count him among the faithful."--J. Ronald Engel, Journal of Religion
"Whether they be 'deliberative liberals,' whose confidence in rationality, science, and technique inspires their democratic quest, or 'agonistic democrats,' those animated by a foundational belief in the citizenship-forming capacity of conflict, these true believers insist on the possibility of profound social transformation with a hope that leans far more on faith than on empirical evidence. Deneen's probing of the origins of this faith is brilliant--an exacting, at times exciting venture into pivotal texts.... What we all need, Deneen implies, is not the absence of faith but a better faith, one that clarifies vision, forges better ties, forces a different reading of our past, and takes us down, down, into the depths of who we, as Americans, as Westerners, and as human beings are."--Eric Miller, Books & Culture
From the Back Cover
"This is a powerful and poignant work in that it refines and deepens contemporary democratic theory. It literally resurrects the perennial wisdom of Reinhold Niebuhr and Christopher Lasch for serious democrats in a fascinating dialogue with Plato, Tocqueville, and Rousseau. Its relevance for our time resounds loudly."--Cornel West, Princeton University, author of Democracy Matters
"Democratic Faith is truly a tour de force, a tremendously important, even magisterial contribution to democratic theory. With this book, Patrick Deneen establishes himself as the worthy exponent and even spiritual heir to the line of American political thinkers that ranges from Tocqueville to Whitman to Dewey to contemporaries Richard Rorty and Benjamin Barber. It is an amazing piece of scholarship, both rigorous and capacious, offering careful yet novel re-readings of the above authors as well as, to mention a few of the highlights, Plato, Aeschylus, Aristotle, Rousseau, and other luminaries. Deneen succeeds in bringing these disparate authors into a compelling narrative that assembles the various pieces into a synthetic perspective without any undue compromise along the way. Moreover, the book is gorgeously written and wonderfully readable--the beautiful prose and the scintillating argument flow."--John Seery, Pomona College. author of Political Theory for Mortals
"This book is an important contribution to studies of democratic theory, to studies of such authors as Dewey, Arendt, and Rorty, and to the burgeoning literature on the topic of religion and politics. After the first chapter my reaction came to be: get this book out fast!"--Robert Faulkner, Boston College, author of The Jurisprudence of John Marshall
Top customer reviews
Of course it is just propaganda of a sort ,and extremely tendentious, And once again shows the rather bought-and-paid for nature of University publishing anymore. Naturally it all completely predictably involves his proposing of his own view as some sort of "realism", against great "cynicism" and some sort of traditional view, which secretly means his own view without the grad school patina and rhetoric. You would scarcely know that a lot of the exquisite parsing between "perfectibility" and "men as they are" -- his extremely sound-bitey scattered polarities -- was admirably present in much more cogent ways in the very works of the Founders of democracies whom he wants to paint as suspicious of them! In the end, one can only guess that the whole thing is just a prolegomenon for the assumed need for some sort of Natural Law theory to undergird democracy. Just something Goldilocks- perfect like Thomism of some variety. Unsurprisingly, Robert George is even the editor here! How convenient.
The funny thing about this bad book is that the author seems at one point to diffusely criticize Rousseau's dislike of cities and cosmopolitanism. He want to sound with-it and trendy of course, and young people like cities of course. Again it is a little hard to tell, but that is the vibe. Now a few years later after living in DC and teaching kids at Georgetown, he announces on Front Porch Republic that he has had enough! He wants the small town, and the circle is closed; he is packin'up and moving to South Bend. He cannot buy a house in DC on a professor's salary, that's the unlikely excuse. Of course there are lots of fine people in the burbs. But as I have pointed out online, it is soooo strange that all these Catholic conservatives do not want to live right near "Little Rome" in the District. He could have afforded a house there probably. It all sounds like an excuse. There is an excess of democracy in the city, and too many men and women "as they are" and not as this self-indulgent and self-pitying fellow desires them to be.