Civil Religion offers philosophical commentaries on more than twenty thinkers stretching from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. It examines four important traditions within the history of modern political philosophy. The civil religion tradition, principally defined by Machiavelli, Hobbes and Rousseau, seeks to domesticate religion by putting it solidly in the service of politics. The liberal tradition pursues an alternative strategy of domestication by seeking to put as much distance as possible between religion and politics. Modern theocracy is a militant reaction against liberalism, reversing the relationship of subordination asserted by civil religion. Finally, a fourth tradition is defined by Nietzsche and Heidegger. Aspects of their thought are t just modern, but hyper-modern, yet they manifest an often-hysterical reaction against liberalism that is fundamentally shared with the theocratic tradition. Together, these four traditions compose a vital dialogue that carries us to the heart of political philosophy itself.
Ronald Beiner is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He has edited Hannah Arendt's Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy; his other books include Political Judgment; What's the Matter with Liberalism? (winner of the Canadian Political Science Association's 1994 Macpherson Prize); Philosophy in a Time of Lost Spirit; and Liberalism, Nationalism, Citizenship.
Winner of Choice Magazine Outstanding Reference/Academic Book Award 2011.