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....
|Title||:||The City of Man|
|Publisher||:||Princeton University Press April 17, 2000|
|Number of Pages||:||248 pages|
|File Size||:||567 KB|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The City of Man Reviews
Pretty dense philosophical reading, but if you have the endurance to get through it, Manent is very insightful. He really does great job challenging the tenants of modernity, but leaves us questioning what can take their place.
Manent has produced a work of genius. And America is the place he describes: where man can be "free" without any conception of what he really is or what he is for, and thus without any conception what freedom really is.
Most world religions have not recognized what we call "progress" as a major category. Long before Christian monks unleashed science through their formulation of the scientific method, high cultures were being annihilated by a seemingly willful ignoring of the military importance of innovation. The "good Fascists" Evola and Guenon,while showing the inevitable decline of all civilizations with the underclass demolishing everything man-conceived in the final phase, they seem to "heroically" rise above mentioning the importance of delaying "kali yuga" by cranking up the power of military innovation. Guenon makes no mention of it, and Evola briefly mentions it with no conclusions. But it does appear to me human "progress is an illusion, and material progress is utterly superficial, if it weren't so dangerous, without human progress. CITY OF MAN shows a particularly precipitous discontinuity in the slope of human regress when Montesquieu irresponsibly, even mischievously blurs the connotations of classical and Christian "virtue" and recasts the word in egalitarian terms. He meretriciously appeals to Nietzsche's ressentiment in this last phase, not of Christian/Judeo/Islam Civilization, but this last phase of civilizational Christianity/Judaism/Islam. This will-to-nihilism, the morbid end of will-to-power, was taken up by Rousseau, as Manent points out, and we know the trail of mischief-makers since. We laugh at all forms of the Sacred, but strangely no one laughs when the word "rights" is spoken, neither the speaker nor the listener. Yet the enterprise of Hobbes, his right to life and the more important right to