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After UtopiaThe Decline of Political Faith$
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Judith N. Shklar

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691200859

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691200859.001.0001

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Introduction: The Decline of the Enlightenment

Introduction: The Decline of the Enlightenment

(p.3) Chapter I Introduction: The Decline of the Enlightenment
After Utopia

Judith N. Shklar

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the disappearance of political philosophy in recent years and the prevalence of theories that arose in opposition to the Enlightenment. It talks about Romanticism as the earliest and most successful antagonist of the Enlightenment, which has numerous successors in existentialism and in the various philosophies of the absurd. It also analyzes the revival of social thought, gradual decay of the radical aspirations of liberalism, and evaporation of socialist thought that have left the Enlightenment without intellectual heirs. The chapter describes Enlightenment as the historical and intellectual starting point of contemporary social theory. It emphasizes how the Enlightenment is still the intellectual focus for many who no longer share its beliefs, and who develop their own viewpoint in refuting the attitudes of a past era.

Keywords:   political philosophy, Enlightenment, Romanticism, existentialism, social thought, liberalism

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