Public Vision, Private Lives

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2006-10-20
  • Publisher: Columbia Univ Pr

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Mark S. Cladis pinpoints the origins of contemporary notions of the public and private and their relationship to religion in the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. His thesis cuts across many fields and issues-philosophy of religion, women's studies, democratic theory, modern European history, American culture, social justice, privacy laws, and notions of solitude and community-and wholly reconsiders the political, cultural, and legal nature of modernity in relation to religion.Turning to Rousseau's Garden, its inhabitants, the Solitaires, and the question of restoration and redemption that preoccupied much of Rousseau's thought, Cladis examines how Rousseau addressed the tension between the joys and moral obligations of social engagement and the desire for solitude. He was caught between two possibilities: active involvement in the creation of an enlightened and humane society or extrication from social entanglements in favor of cultivating a spiritual interior life. Yet Rousseau did not view this conflict as a desperate division. Rather, for him it was a moral struggle to be endured by those who had fallen from the Garden.For this edition Cladis has added a substantive introduction that discusses the role of religion in contemporary democratic societies, particularly in American public life. Cladis proposes four models of thinking about religion in public and champions what he calls spiritual democracy-a dynamic, culturally specific, and progressive democracy. Cladis argues that spiritual democracy refers not only to a society's legal codes and principles but also to its democratic culture and symbols and its daily practices and institutions. It encompasses the nation's character, diverse identities, and a distinctivel exchange between the nation's public vision and citizens' complex, private lives.

Author Biography

Mark S. Cladis is professor and chair of religious studies at Brown University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Religion, Democracy, and Modernity: The Case for Progressive Spiritual Democracyp. xxi
Preparing for the Journey: An Introductionp. 3
From the Garden to the City: The Tragic Passage
Nature's Gardenp. 35
Revisiting the Garden's Solitairesp. 44
From the Garden to the Blessed Country: The Precarious Passagep. 52
The Rush to Slaveryp. 64
The City: Life in the Ousted Conditionp. 79
Overcoming Moral Evil: Rousseau at the Crossroadsp. 100
Paths to Redemption
Reforming the City: The Extreme Public Pathp. 125
Evading the City: The Private Pathp. 154
The Mountain Village: The Path to Family, Work, Community, and Lovep. 172
Reconciling Citizen and Solitaire: Religious Dimensions of the Middle Wayp. 187
Residual Conflict: Democracy and Ineluctable Frictionp. 214
Conclusion: A Way Forward: Rousseau and 21st-century Democracyp. 229
Notesp. 249
Works Citedp. 279
Indexp. 285
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