Item description for Equality by Default: An Essay on Modernity As Confinement (Crosscurrents (ISI Books)) by Philippe Beneton & Ralph C. Hancock...
For most of our contemporaries, to speak of modernity is to think immediately of liberty, equality, and democracy---and to assume that all is well. But things are not so simple. For while the culture of modernity has spread gradually throughout the West for roughly two hundred years, it accelerated in the 1960s in such a way as to undergo a subtle transformation. Hence the paradox of the world we live in: by all appearances the "rights of man" have emerged triumphant, yet at the same time they have been emptied of substance because of their radicalization. Modern man thus finds himself isolated and ensnared. By right, his autonomy should strengthen him; but in fact, he has been dispossessed of himself. The great artifice of our time is to give conformism the mask of liberty.
Philippe Bnton, a prominent French religious conservative, has long meditated on Tocqueville, and Equality by Default is Tocquevillian in that it does not offer a partisan polemic, but rather paints a picture of contemporary life---a picture that is also a guide for discernment for those who have a difficult time "seeing" contemporary liberalism for what it is. Artfully translated by Ralph Hancock, Equality by Default offers a unique and strikingly insightful account of the late-modern mind.
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Beneton is author of many books, including "De l Egalite par defaut" (Paris, 1997; American Edition: " Equality by Default: an Essay on Modernity as Confinement "ISI Books, 2004), and "Introduction a la politique moderne" (Paris 1987)." ""
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Equality, Tolerance, Morality Aug 17, 2005
Three words - among many others - whose meanings have been significantly watered down over recent decades. Bénéton does an excellent job describing how the traditional definitions of these concepts have regressed almost to a Nietzschean "last man" extent: all differences between individuals are supposedly equal, no one choice is better than any other, and achieving "greatness" of any kind is therefore both impossible and pointless. With "Equality by Default," Bénéton - a true philosopher - has successfully described precisely why modernity can be viewed "as confinement." For those who, like myself, view the recent surge in moral relativism as a threat to modern society, you will not be disappointed by this book.
A splendid account of late modernity Sep 12, 2004
As the subtitle of the book states, "an essay on modernity as confinement," this book focuses primarily on modernity. By "equality by default", the author examines egalitarianism in a modern sense, in which the Self is elevated to a divine level, authority has been eroded, science is the only accepted form of reason, and procedure has subjugated form.
I would recommend this book particularly to any intellectual conservative, anyone who has read and liked Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, or anyone in particular who feels unfulfilled by the modern world.