The Unlearned Lessons Of the Twentieth Century: An Essay On Late Modernity (Library Modern Thinkers Series)

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In The Unlearned Lessons of the Twentieth Century, the sequel to Icarus Fallen, published by ISI Books in 2003, Chantal Delsol maintains that the age in which we live—late modernity—calls into question most of the truths and beliefs bequeathed to us from the past. Yet it clings to a central belief in the dignity of the human person, the cornerstone of the doctrine of universal human rights to which even secular Westerners still cling. At the same time, the process of dehumanization so evident in the ideologies and totalitarianism of the twentieth century remains at work. Delsol charges that it is not enough to proclaim human rights as a sort of incantation but that, rather, one must understand what sort of being the human person is if humans are to be genuinely respected. In other words, if the philosophy of human rights is to form the basis of Western culture, it must rest on a truer understanding of the human person than that which is taught—both explicitly and implicitly—in the contemporary West.

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Chantal Delsol is a professor of philosophy at the University of Marne-La-Vallée near Paris. Her first book to appear in English was Icarus Fallen: The Search for Meaning in an Uncertain World, the first book published in ISI Books’ Crosscurrents series.

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