The Kingdom of Man
Genesis and Failure of the Modern Project
352 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268104252 | October 2018
eBook | 9780268104276 | October 2018
eBook | 9780268104283 | October 2018
Was humanity created, or do humans create themselves? In this eagerly awaited English translation of Le Règne de l’homme, the last volume of Rémi Brague's trilogy on the philosophical development of anthropology in the West, Brague argues that with the dawn of the Enlightenment, Western societies rejected the transcendence of the past and looked instead to the progress fostered by the early modern present and the future. As scientific advances drained the cosmos of literal mystery, humanity increasingly devalued the theophilosophical mystery of being in favor of omniscience over one’s own existence. Brague narrates the intellectual disappearance of the natural order, replaced by a universal chaos upon which only humanity can impose order; he cites the vivid histories of the nation-state, economic evolution into capitalism, and technology as the tools of this new dominion, taken up voluntarily by humans for their own end rather than accepted from the deity for a divine purpose.
Brague’s tour de force begins with the ancient and medieval confidence in humanity as the superior creation of Nature or of God, epitomized in the biblical wish of the Creator for humans to exert stewardship over the earth. He sees the Enlightenment as a transition period, taking as a given that humankind should be masters of the world but rejecting the imposition of that duty by a deity. Before the Enlightenment, who the creator was and whom the creator dominated were clear. With the advance of modernity and banishment of the Creator, who was to be dominated? Today, Brague argues, “our humanism . . . is an anti-antihumanism, rather than a direct affirmation of the goodness of the human.” He ends with a sobering question: does humankind still have the will to survive in an era of intellectual self-destruction? The Kingdom of Man will appeal to all readers interested in the history of ideas, but will be especially important to political philosophers, historical anthropologists, and theologians.
Rémi Brague is emeritus professor of medieval and Arabic philosophy at the University of Paris I and Romano Guardini Chair Emeritus of Philosophy at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (Munich). He is a member of the Institut de France and author of many books, including The Law of God: The Philosophical History of an Idea and The Wisdom of the World: The Human Experience of the Universe in Western Thought.
Paul Seaton is associate professor of philosophy at St. Mary's Seminary.
"No one ranges over the history of ideas like Rémi Brague. The Kingdom of Man is not just an index of Brague's astonishing learning but a pulsing inquiry into the dreams of our modern imagination. Those dreams, contends Brague, re-worked reality itself and proposed a human innocence that is proving far from benign." ~Graham James McAleer, Loyola University Maryland
"Amid the continuing stream of books about modernity, Rémi Brague’s The Kingdom of Man stands alone. His treatment of the modern age is at once complex and unified, rooted in stunning erudition and an ability to construct a compelling narrative. Completing a trilogy that includes previous books on antiquity and the middle ages, Brague provides an account of the sources—textual, political, economic, and ecclesial—of our current world for which there is no substitute and no current competitor." ~Thomas S. Hibbs, Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Culture, Baylor University
"The story may be familiar in broad outline—the death of God entails the death of man—but it has never been portrayed with both such a thorough command of the broad strokes (for example, masterful compact discussions of canonical thinkers from Francis Bacon to Heidegger) and at the same time a simply amazing wealth of detail, fine brush strokes of testimony from lesser known or practically unknown authors and artists that add vivid cultural flesh to the big story. In the end, the portrait of secular humanism’s collapse upon itself is stark, more than sobering, but informed by an understated but bright hope that humanity’s goodness has 'anchors in the heavens.'" ~Ralph Hancock, Brigham Young University