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Record Type: Review   ID: 713

The Coming Fin de Siècle: An Application of Durkheim's Sociology to Modernity and Postmodernism

Mêstrovic, Stjepan G.

 A sociologist from Texas A & M, Meštrovic examines the past and present fin de siècles, and points up striking similarities, although there are differences. His approach is primarily empirical and inductive rather than deductive. He seeks "a third alternative between classical enlightened liberalism and irrationalist conservatism," which would be "a liberalism ... derived from irrationalism, from the ‘heart’ emphasized by the fin de siècle spirit as opposed to the ‘mind’ glorified by the Enlightenment" (p. xi). This third view would "grant more rights and dignity to individuals, the weak, and the powerless," but it will be accomplished "not from cognitive development but from a development of compassion" (p. xi). He decries the fact that irrationalism is criticized because it is associated with attacks on liberalism, but Meštrovic points out that totalitarianisms are rooted in a "heartless rationalism," whereas irrationalism, on the other hand, can denote such benign states as sympathy, compassion, and other responses associated with the heart.. He calls the Enlightenment "project" an illusion. With Unamuno, he calls for the end of the "Holy Inquisition of science," so that humans can "confront and tame the irrational, and reach the god of a cosmopolitan society of humankind" (p. 212). In such a scenario, it would appear that exceptional human experiences, as expressions of the irrational, would play an important role.
Publisher Information:New York: Routledge, 1991. 232p. Bibl: 213-227; Name Ind: 228-229; Subject Ind: 230-232
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