Modernity and Its Discontents: Making and Unmaking the Bourgeois from Machiavelli to Bellow

Modernity and Its Discontents: Making and Unmaking the Bourgeois from Machiavelli to Bellow

by Steven B. Smith


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Steven B. Smith examines the concept of modernity, not as the end product of historical developments but as a state of mind. He explores modernism as a source of both pride and anxiety, suggesting that its most distinctive characteristics are the self-criticisms and doubts that accompany social and political progress. Providing profiles of the modern project’s most powerful defenders and critics—from Machiavelli and Spinoza to Saul Bellow and Isaiah Berlin—this provocative work of philosophy and political science offers a novel perspective on what it means to be modern and why discontent and sometimes radical rejection are its inevitable by-products.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300240238
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 08/07/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 1,126,267
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Steven B. Smith is Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Part 1 Introduction

1 Modernity in Question 3

Part 2 Modernity

2 Machiavelli's Mandragola and the Protean Self 27

3 The Exemplary Life of Rene Descartes 46

4 Was Hobbes a Christian? 67

5 What Kind of Jew Was Spinoza? 88

6 Benjamin Franklin's American Enlightenment 109

7 Kant's Liberal Internationalism 131

8 Hegel and the "Bourgeois-Christian World" 154

Part 3 Our Discontents

9 Rousseau's Counter-Enlightenment: Letter to d'Alembert on the Theater 175

10 Tocqueville's America 197

11 Flaubert and the Aesthetics of the Antibourgeois 223

12 The Apocalyptic Imagination: Nietzsche, Sorel, Schmitt 243

13 The Tragic Liberalism of Isaiah Berlin 267

14 Leo Strauss on Philosophy as a Way of Life 290

15 The Political Teaching of Lampedusa's The Leopard 313

16 Mr. Sammler's Redemption 330

Part 4 Conclusion

17 Modernity and Its Doubles 347

Notes 353

Index 385

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