The Wreck of Western Culture: Humanism Revisited

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Humanism built Western civilization as we know it today. Its achievements include the liberation of the individual, democracy, universal rights, and widespread prosperity and comfort. Its ambassadors are the heroes of modern culture - Erasmus, Holbein, Shake- speare, Velazquez, Descartes, Kant, Freud. Those who sought to contain humanism's pride within a frame of higher truth - Luther, Calvin, Poussin, Kierkegaard - could barely interrupt its torrential progress. Those who sought to reform humanism's tenets from within - Marx, Darwin, and Nietzsche - were tested by the success of their own prophecies. So runs the approved view. John Carroll dissents.
With fresh readings of essential cultural texts, Carroll, one of Australia's most eminent public intellectuals, articulates a disruptive and compelling alternative narrative of the course of Western civilization since the Renaissance and the Reformation contrived to unleash reason, will, and superhuman desire on the world. The West's five-hundred-year experiment with humanism has failed, he maintains, because humans ultimately need some kind of contact with a higher or metaphysical order beyond the confines of their time-bound, mundane selves. And, Carroll concludes, if this wasn't entirely clear before September 11, 2001, it surely is now.

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About the Author:

John Carroll is Professor of Sociology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and a Fellow of the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University. He has degrees in mathematics, economics, and sociology from the universities of Melbourne and Cambridge. His work focuses on culture and its crucial role in the human search for meaning, with particular reference to modern Western society. Carroll’s recent books include Ego and Soul: The Modern West in Search of Meaning, The Western Dreaming, Terror: A Meditation on the Meaning of September 11, and The Existential Jesus.

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9781935191827: The Wreck of Western Culture: Humanism Revisited

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ISBN 10:  1935191829 ISBN 13:  9781935191827
Publisher: ISI Books, 2010
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