Introduction: Moving Beyond Liberalism

  • Andrius Bielskis


It has often been argued that the conceptual beginning of modernity lies in the notion of man’s self-determination and what Charles Taylor famously called ‘the disenchantment of the world’.1 It will be one of the tasks of this introductory chapter to suggest that the idea of modern humanism should be understood in relation to the loss of the traditional ontological order of the world. This will enable us to provide a contextual background for our discussion of two alternative approaches to the political, approaches attempting to go beyond modern humanism. Thus I shall argue that the modern conception of humanism, the idea of self-determining reason, the Enlightenment attempts to formulate rationally justified autonomous morality which,as it was believed, would serve as the cornerstone for universal civilisation, together with instrumental reason giving the impetus for the establishment of modern science – all of these have to be understood together and in relation to the decline of the traditional ontological world-view. Such a conception of modern humanism contrasts with Martin Heidegger’s and more recently John Gray’s understanding, since this notion of humanism will be exclusively linked to modernity. It will be claimed that only in modernity and due to modernity has humanism become the all pervasive ideology and Weltanschauung of the contemporary world.


Modern Humanism Modern Conception Political Community Political Authority Political Liberalism 
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© Andrius Bielskis 2005

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  • Andrius Bielskis

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