The invention of the individual

Book cover '978-3-608-94886-8

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Time of the magicians

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Grand Hotel Abyss

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Grand Hotel Abyss

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Grand Hotel Abyss

“With breathtaking power, the author shows in his portrayal of the West, who we are and where we go.” David Marquand, New Statesman

What are the much-vaunted Western values?? When did the idea of the free individual emerge, on which our society is still based today? This stimulating book, spanning vast historical periods, provides surprising answers to central questions about Western identity.

More than ever, our previously taken-for-granted Western values are coming under pressure. The rapidly spreading Islamic fundamentalism, but also authoritarian China, enter the stage of world history as powerful antipodes to Western liberalism, to the idea of freedom and the right of the individual. Against this backdrop, Larry Siedentop takes a fresh look at the history of how our Western value system came to be. In an arc spanning nearly two millennia, he recounts the crucial philosophical turning points. A great historical-philosophical throwdown that shows what makes the West tick – and once again brings to mind that only when we understand ourselves is a fruitful conversation with other cultures possible.

“An exceedingly clever book with steep theses on the history of ideas.”
Mirko Weber, Stuttgarter Zeitung, 27.05.2016

“Siedentop makes it clear: Western liberal society is based on the imdividual and his freedom on the one hand and a social humanity and responsibility towards all people and creatures on the other hand. Both are rooted in Christianity. His book is a rich treasure trove if we want to understand the world.”
Hansruedi Kugler, St. Galler Tagblatt, 3.6.2016

“An instructive counter-narrative to the tendentious interpretation of Christianity that has solidified itself as the prevailing opinion since the Enlightenment. After reading this book we see ourselves and the secular world around us in a differentiated light.”
Guido Kalberer, Berner Zeitung, 9.1.2016

“Siedentop”s great achievement is that he meticulously retraces the emancipatory potential of Christianity. In the end, with a view to the “History of the West” The author and his values have succeeded in a bold demystification of antiquity and the Enlightenment – and in an impressive rehabilitation of the early church and the Middle Ages.”
Dieter Schnaas, Wirtschaftswoche, October 2015

Translated from English by Hainer Kober
2. Print edition. 2016, 495 pages, hardcover with dust jacket
ISBN: 978-3-608-94886-8

Larry Siedentop

Larry Siedentop, born in 1936, held the first chair of intellectual history in Britain at the University of Sussex. From .


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