A friend of reason: José Guilherme Merquior

Critical Review 5 (3):421-446 (1991)
This essay surveys and assesses J. G. Merquior's principal English?language contributions to liberal social and political theory. The greatest strength of Merquior's work is his recognition that one can neither understand nor defend liberalism without first understanding and defending modernity. The greatest weakness of Merquior's work is his overly oppositional conception of the relationship between modernity and its postmodern critics, particularly his failure to recognize that both the positive and negative features of postmodernism are simply radicalizations of the positive and negative features of modernity itself. It is argued that the strengths of Merquior's work are best affirmed and its weaknesses best overcome by appropriating it within the context of a ?critical modernist? approach to understanding and legitimizing the institutions and practices characteristic of modernity and liberalism
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