Modernity's Wager: Authority, the Self, and Transcendence

Princeton University Press
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Adam Seligman, one of our most important social thinkers, continues the incisive critique of modernity he began in his previously acclaimed The Idea of Civil Society and The Problem of Trust. In this provocative new work of social philosophy, Seligman evaluates modernity's wager, namely, the gambit to liberate the modern individual from external social and religious norms by supplanting them with the rational self as its own moral authority. Yet far from ensuring the freedom of the individual, Seligman argues, "the fundamentalist doctrine of enlightened reason has called into being its own nemesis" in the forms of ethnic, racial, and identity politics. Seligman counters that the modern human must recover a notion of authority that is essentially transcendent, but which extends tolerance to those of other--or no--faiths.

Through its denial of an authority rooted in an experience of transcendence, modernity fails to account for individual and collective moral action. First, deprived of a sacred source of the self, depictions of moral action are reduced to motives of self interest. Second, dismissing the sacred leaves the resurgence of religious movements unexplained.

In this rigorous and imaginative study, Seligman seeks to discover a durable source of moral authority in a liberalized world. His study of shame, pride, collective guilt, and collective responsibility demonstrates the mutual relationship between individual responsibility and communal authority. Furthermore, Seligman restores the indispensable role of religious traditions--as well as the features of those traditions that enhance, rather than denigrate, tolerance. Sociologists, political theorists, moral philosophers, and intellectual historians will find Seligman's thesis enlightening, as will anyone concerned with the ethical and religious foundations of a tolerant society.

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About the author

Adam B. Seligman is Professor of Religion at Boston University. He is the author of several books, including The Idea of Civil Society and The Problem of Trust (both Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Feb 9, 2009
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9781400824694
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Philosophy / Political
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Adam B. Seligman
Innerworldly Individualism looks to colonial history, in particular, seventeenth-century New England, to understand the sources of modern nation building. Seligman analyzes how cultural assumptions of collective identity and social authority emerged out of the religious beliefs of the first generation of settlers in New England. He goes on to examine how these assumptions crystallized three generations later into patterns of normative order, forming the foundation of an American consciousness. Seligman uses sociological research grounded in early American history as his laboratory, and does so in a highly original way.

Seligman uses Max Weber's paradigm of sociological inquiry to explore how a combination of ideational and structural factors helped to develop modern conceptions of authority and collective identity among New England communities. Seligman addresses a number of significant issues, including social change, the mutual interaction and development of process and structure, and the role of charisma in the forging of a social order. His book profoundly increases our understanding of the ideological and social processes prevalent in early American history as well as their contemporary influence on civil identity.

Innerworldly Individualism uniquely intertwines sociological study with cultural history. It uses American history to develop and elucidate problems of broad theoretical significance. Seligman's argument is bolstered by a close examination of concrete detail. His book will be of interest to anthropologists, sociologists, political theorists, and historians of American culture.

Adam B. Seligman
Innerworldly Individualism looks to colonial history, in particular, seventeenth-century New England, to understand the sources of modern nation building. Seligman analyzes how cultural assumptions of collective identity and social authority emerged out of the religious beliefs of the first generation of settlers in New England. He goes on to examine how these assumptions crystallized three generations later into patterns of normative order, forming the foundation of an American consciousness. Seligman uses sociological research grounded in early American history as his laboratory, and does so in a highly original way. Seligman uses Max Weber’s paradigm of sociological inquiry to explore how a combination of ideational and structural factors helped to develop modern conceptions of authority and collective identity among New England communities. Seligman addresses a number of significant issues, including social change, the mutual interaction and development of process and structure, and the role of charisma in the forging of a social order. His book profoundly increases our understanding of the ideological and social processes prevalent in early American history as well as their contemporary influence on civil identity. Innerworldly Individualism uniquely intertwines sociological study with cultural history. It uses American history to develop and elucidate problems of broad theoretical significance. Seligman’s argument is bolstered by a close examination of concrete detail. His book will be of interest to anthropologists, sociologists, political theorists, and historians of American culture.
Marcus Aurelius
Adam B. Seligman
Innerworldly Individualism looks to colonial history, in particular, seventeenth-century New England, to understand the sources of modern nation building. Seligman analyzes how cultural assumptions of collective identity and social authority emerged out of the religious beliefs of the first generation of settlers in New England. He goes on to examine how these assumptions crystallized three generations later into patterns of normative order, forming the foundation of an American consciousness. Seligman uses sociological research grounded in early American history as his laboratory, and does so in a highly original way.

Seligman uses Max Weber's paradigm of sociological inquiry to explore how a combination of ideational and structural factors helped to develop modern conceptions of authority and collective identity among New England communities. Seligman addresses a number of significant issues, including social change, the mutual interaction and development of process and structure, and the role of charisma in the forging of a social order. His book profoundly increases our understanding of the ideological and social processes prevalent in early American history as well as their contemporary influence on civil identity.

Innerworldly Individualism uniquely intertwines sociological study with cultural history. It uses American history to develop and elucidate problems of broad theoretical significance. Seligman's argument is bolstered by a close examination of concrete detail. His book will be of interest to anthropologists, sociologists, political theorists, and historians of American culture.

Adam B. Seligman
Innerworldly Individualism looks to colonial history, in particular, seventeenth-century New England, to understand the sources of modern nation building. Seligman analyzes how cultural assumptions of collective identity and social authority emerged out of the religious beliefs of the first generation of settlers in New England. He goes on to examine how these assumptions crystallized three generations later into patterns of normative order, forming the foundation of an American consciousness. Seligman uses sociological research grounded in early American history as his laboratory, and does so in a highly original way. Seligman uses Max Weber’s paradigm of sociological inquiry to explore how a combination of ideational and structural factors helped to develop modern conceptions of authority and collective identity among New England communities. Seligman addresses a number of significant issues, including social change, the mutual interaction and development of process and structure, and the role of charisma in the forging of a social order. His book profoundly increases our understanding of the ideological and social processes prevalent in early American history as well as their contemporary influence on civil identity. Innerworldly Individualism uniquely intertwines sociological study with cultural history. It uses American history to develop and elucidate problems of broad theoretical significance. Seligman’s argument is bolstered by a close examination of concrete detail. His book will be of interest to anthropologists, sociologists, political theorists, and historians of American culture.
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