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Redeeming the Enlightenment: Christianity and the Liberal Virtues (Radical Traditions) Paperback – January 21, 2010
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— Baylor University
"An extraordinarily rich, synthetic, and polyphonic reflection on major, sustaining voices of the European Enlightenment. . . With precise definition, careful distinctions, refined intellection, and an exquisite, orderly exposition of foundational texts in both literature and philosophy, Bruce Ward gives us a bracing revision of some of those very Enlightenment thinkers that many of us have come to think of more as burden than as blessing. This is a must-read for intellectual historians, theologians, and students of Enlightenment philosophy alike — a brilliant tour de force in the tradition of George Grant and Charles Taylor."
"This rich, nuanced book by Ward draws on his previous work on Russian novelist Dostoyevsky, combining that literary analysis with probing explorations of philosophers such as Kant, Rousseau, Nietzsche, and Taylor. Ward argues that liberal modernity's ethics and philosophy are distorted reflections of richer Christian notions of the self and ethical existence. In contrast to the growing proliferation of specialized studies, this book offers an expansive tour looking for connections and differences among a host of thinkers — not to argue for a wholesale rejection of the Enlightenment but to show that Christian humanism is a richer philosophy upon which to base human fulfillment. In that project, humanity finds fulfillment in the giving of the self in love, not an endless quest for self-authored authenticity. This volume finds a way into a beyond-current debate about religion's role in a liberal society to show how religion and theology can point the way to a deeper meaning of the liberal project. Philosophically and theologically sophisticated, the book delineates the rich ways in which philosophy and theology can powerfully engage literature."
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Top customer reviews
Ward devotes chapters to "equality," "authenticity," "tolerance" and "compassion" as virtues allegedly derived from the enlightenment, but which are actually secularized, even watered down versions of Christian virtues. I was surprised that "freedom" was not treated individually, but Ward explained that freedom or liberty is woven into each of the other four as a necessary pre-condition. On p.34, Ward shows how liberalism puts rights before duties/responsibilities in an individualistic way, whereas Christianity has always emphasized that rights flow from prior responsibilities, to God and others. On p. 115 he highlights the all too odd but true specter of intolerant or illiberal liberalism. On p. 119, Ward uses the phrase "Enlightenment fundamentalism," which i had never heard before, but will use frequently in the future.
One of the many things i enjoyed about this book was the footnotes to many other books which sound as if they will also be helpful to me, and to others, to comprehend the USA, which has roots in both Christianity and the enlightenment.