Secularism: A dry well

There are many books listed here I want to read.  I would also suggest that those interested in the topics on this blog consider reading some of these as well.

“And this brings me back, at last, to why the best books of 2012 were so good. They each express, whether by means of forceful critique or tacit concession, that secularism and its cultural-political counterpart, liberalism, have run out of their own resources – they are simply no longer sustainable due to their constitutive rejection of any binding notion of the common good, much less the possibility of some shared, transcendent destiny of human life. And the more the propagandists and cheerleaders of secularism try to erect their desperate alibis for why (as Jean-Claude Michea has argued) liberalism is not just the “least bad” political order, but in the final analysis the “best possible” political order, the more its imaginative and moral impoverishment becomes clear.”

“This is particularly evident in the nihilistic individualism that has reduced the differentiated social body into an agonistic domain in which the capricious, unguided destinies we choose for ourselves – under the name of a corrupted conception of “freedom” – compete for sparse resources (against which Adrian Pabst has mounted the most compelling and thoroughgoing critique ever written); or in the way that the possibilities of political reconciliation and restorative justice have been foreclosed within a culture that can only think in terms of punishment (possibilities kept alive in Daniel Philpott‘s extraordinary treatise on the positive conditions of peace); or in the way that the more antique conception of “the good life” has been forgotten amid our deranged, impatient culture of acquisitiveness (against which both Robert Skidelsky and Niall Ferguson have written compelling, but deliciously different broadsides); or in the chest-beating reductive naturalism that is so desperate to liberate humanity from the possibility of the existence of God that it ends up radically debasing human being itself (against which Thomas Nagel has surely now delivered the coup de grace).”


This study will raise some eyebrows.  I can see people secretly saying to themselves, “I knew it!”

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1 Response to Secularism: A dry well

  1. RonH says:

    Interesting list. The only book on it that I've read thus far is de Botton's. I enjoyed it… Behold, an atheist in whom there is no rancor! Of course, as a religious person I was not sold on why I should trade out for an atheism with religious trappings. But it is a project I would like to see more atheists undertake… If they're truly… er… hell-bent on eradicating religion, they need to come up with structures to handle the heavy lifting that religious belief has historically done. Otherwise they're just tearing things down before they've decided what to build in their place. That's irresponsible.

    It's telling that de Botton has been so heavily castigated by other high-profile atheists.

    I'd like to read Nagle's book, but I'm way overextended on my book purchases at present. I must coerce the library into procuring a copy.


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