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Civil Religion


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Table of Contents

Part I. Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau: Three Versions of the Civil Religion Project: 1. Rousseau's problem; 2. The Machiavellian solution: paganization of Christianity; 3. Moses and Mohammed as founder-princes or legislators; 4. Re-founding and 'filiacide': Machiavelli's debt to Christianity; 5. The Hobbesian solution: Judaicization of Christianity; 6. Behemoth: Hobbesian 'theocracy' versus the real thing; 7. Geneva Manuscript: the apparent availability of a Rousseauian solution; 8. Social Contract: the ultimate unavailability of a Rousseauian solution; Part II. Responses to (and Partial Incorporations of) Civil Religion within the Liberal Tradition: 9. Baruch Spinoza: from civil religion to liberalism; 10. Philosophy and piety: problems in Spinoza's case for liberalism (owing to a partial reversion to civil religion); 11. Spinoza's interpretation of the Commonwealth of the Hebrews, and why civil religion is a continuing presence in his version of liberalism; 12. John Locke: the liberal paradigm; 13. 'The gods of the philosophers' I: Locke and John Toland; 14. Bayle's republic of atheists; 15. Montesquieu's pluralized civil religion; 16. The Straussian rejection of the enlightenment as applied to Bayle and Montesquieu; 17. 'The gods of the philosophers' II: Rousseau and Kant; 18. Hume as a successor to Bayle; 19. Adam Smith's sequel to Hume (and Hobbes); 20. Christianity as civil religion: Tocqueville's response to Rousseau; 21. John Stuart Mill's project to turn atheism into a religion; 22. Mill's critics; 23. John Rawls's genealogy of liberalism; 24. Prosaic liberalism: Montesquieu versus Machiavelli, Rousseau, Nietzsche; Part III. Theocratic Responses to Liberalism: 25. Joseph de Maistre: the theocratic paradigm; 26. Maistrean politics; 27. Maistre and Rousseau: theocracy versus civil religion; 28. Carl Schmitt's 'theocratic' critique of Hobbes; Part IV. Post-Modern 'Theism': Nietzsche and Heidegger's Continuing Revolt Against Liberalism: 29. Nietzsche, Weber, Freud: the twentieth century confronts the death of God; 30. Nietzsche's civil religion; 31. Heidegger's sequel to Nietzsche: the longing for new gods; 32. Conclusion.

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Civil Religion traces a continuing intellectual dialogue on the challenge posed to political and civic life by religion.

About the Author

Ronald Beiner is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He has edited Hannah Arendt's Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy; his other books include Political Judgment; What's the Matter with Liberalism? (winner of the Canadian Political Science Association's 1994 Macpherson Prize); Philosophy in a Time of Lost Spirit; and Liberalism, Nationalism, Citizenship.


'Ronald Beiner does an excellent job of interpreting a dizzying number of works in the tradition, and everyone from undergraduates to seasonal readers of these texts will benefit from his readings ... As the scope suggests, this book is an ambitious and ultimately impressive contribution to the history of political thought ... Beiner is fully aware of the methodoligical assumptions inherent in his project, but a very helpful introduction and conclusion position him as a moderate and thoughtful presence between contextualism and Staussianism (each of which is given a fair hearing and indeed put to use when necessary). Jacob Abolafia, Political Studies Review

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