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The Disenchantment of the World


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Table of Contents

Foreword by Charles Taylor Ix Introduction 3 Part One: THE METAMORPHOSES OF THE DIVINE THE ORIGIN, MEANING, AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE RELIGIOUS The Historicity of the Religious 21 CHAPTER 1 Primeval Religion or the Reign of the Absolute Past 23 CHAPTER 2 The State as Sacral Transforming Agent 33 Hierarchy 37 Domination 39 Conquest 41 The Axial Age 43 CHAPTER 3 The Dynamics of Transcendence 47 Distancing God and Understanding the World 51 Divine Greatness, Human Liberty 57 From Myth to Reason 62 From Dependence to Autonomy 64 CHAPTER 4 From Immersion in Nature to Transforming Nature 67 Indebtedness to the Gods, the Inter-Human Bond, and the Relation to Things 68 THE POLITICAL MACHINE 70 THE VITALITY OF CHANGE 72 The Other World and Appropriating This World 74 Heaven and Earth: Christianity's Specificity 76 ORTHODOXY AND HERESY 79 INCARNATION AND INTERPRETATION 81 PRAYER AND WORK 84 The Structure of Terrestrial Integrity 86 THE CROWDED WORLD 87 COLLECTIVE PERMANENCE 88 PEACE 92 HOMO OECONOMICUS 94 Part Two: THE APOGEE AND DEATH OF GOD CHRISTIANITY AND WESTERN DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 5 The Powers of the Divine Subject 101 A Religion for Departing from Religion 101 Israel. Inventing God-as-One 107 MOSES: DOMINATING DOMINATION 108 THE COVENANT AND TRIAL BY ADVERSITY 109 THE PROPHETS 110 Jesus: The God-Man 115 MESSIANISM 115 THE SECOND MOSES 117 AN INVERTED MESSIAH 118 SAINT PAUL: THE UNIVERSAL GOD 124 CHRISTOLOGY 125 CONQUERING THE CONQUERORS 127 The Christian Revolution: Faith, Church, King 130 The Greeks: The Religion of Reason 44 The Turn toward Equality 151 CHAPTER 6 Figures of the Human Subject 162 Being-a-Self: Consciousness, the Unconscious 166 Collective-Being. Governing the Future 172 FROM SUBJUGATED SOCIETY TO SOCIAL-SUBJECT 173 THE AGE OF IDEOLOGY 176 THE CHILD AND THE FUTURE 179 BUREAUCRACY, DEMOCRACY 180 THE POWER OF THE IDENTICAL AND THE SOCIETY OF THE NEW 185 Living-with-Ourselves: Absorbing the Other 190 POLITICAL CONFLICT 191 THE SEPARATION OF THE STATE 195 The Religious after Religion 200 Notes 209 Bibliography 221 Index 225

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The scope, freedom of thought, and analytical rigor of this book make it essential reading. -- Jean-Jacques Courtine, University of California, Santa Barbara Marcel Gauchet's The Disenchantment of the World is breathtaking in its ambition, offering nothing short of a new theory of the birth of modernity out of the spirit of Christianity. -- Brian C. Anderson, "First Things"

About the Author

Marcel Gauchet is Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. He is the editor of Le Debat, France's most influential intellectual journal, and the author of numerous books. This current book was published in France as Le Desenchantement du monde.


"There is a stubborn kernel of truth here. It is that a liberal order may find a friend in religion because God's otherness is what makes us free: free to believe and free not to believe. Western history is the unfolding of this irony."--Jean Bethke Elshtain, The New Republic

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