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Thinking the Twentieth Century. Tony Judt & Timothy Snyder (2013)

June 20, 2013

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“If there was a transcendental consideration in politics, it was not the meaning of society, but rather its purposes. This was a subtle but crucial shift. We can see it clearly if we take a detour into English liberalism. The liberal break from faith began obviously in the Enlightenment, where faith as a constituent part of the framework for thinking about human purposes simply evaporates. But there’s a second stage, which is very important in England (and France): the collapse of actual religious belief in the third quarter of the nineteenth century. The new liberals, born into that milieu, recognized that theirs was a world without faith, an ungrounded world. And so they tried to ground it in new philosophical ways of thinking. Nietzsche touches on an aspect of this when he writes that men need realist grounds for moral action, and yet they can’t have them because they cannot agree on what those grounds would be. They have no basis for those grounds—God being dead—and yet without them they have no grounds for action at all.”

[op. cit., p. 81]

Manuel J. Matos‘s insight:

Traveling along Tony Judt with may of the ideas that enformed last century’s History of Europe.

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