Community after totalitarianism. The Eastern Orthodox intellectual tradition and the philosophical discourse of political modernity
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Starting with a definition of political modernity from the angle of its greatest trial, namely totalitarianism, this study pursues two questions: How to conceptualize community after the experience of totalitarianism? And, what can the Eastern Orthodox intellectual tradition contribute to this debate? In both parts of Europe, totalitarianism raised the same political philosophical challenge: How to conceptualize the relationship between the individual and community in the light of the absolute communization of society and the simultaneous absolute atomization of individuals which totalitarianism had brought about? In contemporary Western political philosophy, the reflection upon this experience has taken three principled directions: the unequivocal embrace and conceptual elaboration of liberalism for which the works of John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas are exemplary, the communitarian critique of liberalism for which the works of Charles Taylor and Alasdair MacIntyre are representative, and the postmodern critique which, most clearly expressed in the works of Jean-Luc Nancy, ties the question of community back to the singular human being. In the present study, I add to these three approaches a viewpoint which challenges the limits of all of them. Focusing on the works of Sergej Horužij and Christos Yannaras, I demonstrate how these authors, while accepting the lesson of totalitarianism, seek foundations for their conceptualization of community and human subjectivity in the spiritual and intellectual tradition of Eastern Christianity. My aim is to re-think the political problematic of modernity from the East and beyond liberal, communitarian and postmodern political philosophy in order to extend the interpretative space of political modernity, to sharpen the problematic of community and the human subject after the experience of totalitarianism, and to single out those elements which are especially pertinent for a post-totalitarian philosophy of community: the quality of freedom, the role of practices, and the meaning of tradition
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