The Origins of Autonomy

Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 1998 (113):139-149 (1998)
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Marcel Gauchet's book is an ambitious study of the rise and demise of religion.1 Written in the tradition of the “grand narratives,” he seeks to reconstruct the multiple linkages between the transformation of religion and the secularization of Western civilization.2 Relying on Max Weber and Cornelius Castoriadis, Gauchet seeks to explain the transition from a religious universe to a preeminently profane world that has broken irrecoverably with its religious past. How, Gauchet asks, did the transition take place? How did the modern world and especially politics succeed in emancipating themselves from God? How was the break with the invisible Other…



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