Item description for The Unlearned Lessons Of the Twentieth Century: An Essay On Late Modernity (Library Modern Thinkers Series) by Chantal Delsol & Robin Dick...
In The Unlearned Lessons of the Twentieth Century, the sequel to Icarus Fallen, published by ISI Books in 2003, Chantal Delsol maintains that the age in which we live--late modernity--calls into question most of the truths and beliefs bequeathed to us from the past. Yet it clings to a central belief in the dignity of the human person, the cornerstone of the doctrine of universal human rights to which even secular Westerners still cling. At the same time, the process of dehumanization so evident in the ideologies and totalitarianism of the twentieth century remains at work. Delsol charges that it is not enough to proclaim human rights as a sort of incantation but that, rather, one must understand what sort of being the human person is if humans are to be genuinely respected. In other words, if the philosophy of human rights is to form the basis of Western culture, it must rest on a truer understanding of the human person than that which is taught--both explicitly and implicitly--in the contemporary West.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25" Weight: 0.8 lbs.
Release Date Aug 28, 2006
Publisher Intercollegiate Studies Institute
ISBN 1932236473 ISBN13 9781932236477
Availability 0 units.
More About Chantal Delsol & Robin Dick
Chantal Delsol is a professor of philosophy at the University of Marne-La-Vallee near Paris. Her first book to appear in English was Icarus Fallen: The Search for Meaning in an Uncertain World, the first book published in ISI Books Crosscurrents series."
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Finally and hesitantly, Hope also left Pandora's jar Jun 20, 2008
In this work, Delsol sets out to expose a potentially lethal contradiction. The belief in the dignity of the individual as a person possessing sacred and inalienable worth survives in our era of late modernity. But it lives within a Zeitgeist bereft of meaning or hope in which collectivist approaches inherited from failed ideologies are still consciously or unconsciously embraced. To secure the concept of individual life as our highest value, it is not sufficient to rhetorically reject the totalitarian idea. It has to be replaced entirely by a structure or framework of meaning in which the sanctity of life inheres.
The author considers the relativism of late modernity as a type of nihilism that offers escape from the rigidity of certitudes that was responsible for the 20th century's death and destruction. She prefers the expression "late modernity" as it merely suggests the completion of a cycle whereas "postmodernity" is saddled with ideological connotations. The concept of lateness need not imply decay or deterioration only but rebirth as well. For example, the decline of the Roman Empire during late antiquity was the era in which stoicism and pantheism were replaced by the humanism of Christianity that it inherited from Judaism.
It is faith, not science that supports the principle of personal dignity, a fragile notion at all times. It relies upon conscience, responsibility, mankind's moral agreement and a clear distinction between the human and the non-human. It is moreover an idea that depends upon a cultural heritage that serves as an antidote to the dystopian 20th century forces of dehumanization that are still operating. Thus pivotal questions arise about responsibility and identity: understanding the nature of the human being, the basis of dignity, the way we ought to live and the kind of culture that will nurture this principle of respect. By now it is clear that both orthodox religion and dogmatic relativism are unsuitable.
Specific chapters are devoted to inter alia the lessons of the 20th century, derision and revolt against past certitudes, common values as language, the paradoxes of materialism, the omnipresence of evil, human rights, body & soul, and the universal as promise. Valuable insights include the observations that: hopelessness immobilizes some in an "eternal present" of empty materialism; contempt for the past has become a popular theme of art and literature; the strength of family bonds is diminishing; the uniqueness of human life is denied by equating it with nature, even with inanimate matter.
Another is that natural rights, history and theology all fall short when employed to explain the unique worth of the individual. In chapter 15: Interiority and Eternity, she argues that meaning and purpose in life require a connection with exterior referents that are greater than and survive the individual life - the Eternal Divine. I treasure this book even more than Icarus Fallen: The Search for Meaning in an Uncertain World. Imbued with empathy, her writing remains accessible even as it constantly reveals new pathways of possibility. The translator also deserves praise. This remarkable work concludes with bibliographical notes and an index.