ISBN: 9780415124751 Publisher: Taylor & Francis LtdYear of publishing: 1995 Format: Hardback
No of Pages: 216 Language: English
John Gray's previous book Beyond the New Right developed a radical critique of the New Right from the standpoint of traditional conservatism. Enlightenment's Wake goes beyond the sceptical conclusion...Read more
John Gray's previous book Beyond the New Right developed a radical critique of the New Right from the standpoint of traditional conservatism. Enlightenment's Wake goes beyond the sceptical conclusion of that book to stake out the elements of a new position, whose starting point is the obsolescence of the received traditions of thought, conservative as well as liberal. The author argues that all the intellectual traditions of modernity are applications of the Enlightenment project and thereby suffer the fate of that project, which has proved to be self-undermining. This effect was due to the project's extension of rational self-criticism and demystification to its own foundational commitments, which ultimately dissolved them. From this position Gray argues that both the desire of fundamentalist liberalism to salvage the Enlightenment, and the traditionalist or reactionary desire to reverse it, are doomed to failure. The central problem of contemporary political thought and practice, he contends, is that of securing peaceful co-existence for incommensurable world-views in an intellectual and cultural context that is at once post-rational and post-traditional.
While it is crucial to resist the re-enchantment of the world by new forms of fundamentalism, neither the Left nor the Right in any of their traditional forms are able, according to Gray, to offer a viable alternative. Read less