Europe is inseparable from its history. That history has been extensively studied in terms of its political history, its economic history, its religious history, its literary and cultural history, and so on. Could there be a distinctively philosophical history of Europe? Not a history of philosophy in Europe, but a history of Europe that focuses on what, in its history and identity, ties it to philosophy.
In the two volumes of Europe: A Philosophical History - The Promise of Modernity and Beyond Modernity - Simon Glendinning takes up this question, telling the story of Europe’s history as a philosophical history.
In Part 1, The Promise of Modernity, Glendinning examines the conception of Europe that links it to ideas of rational Enlightenment and modernity. Tracking this self-understanding as it unfolds in the writings of Kant, Hegel and Marx, Glendinning explores the transition in Europe from a conception of its modernity that was philosophical and religious to one which was philosophical and scientific. While this transition profoundly altered Europe’s own history, Glendinning shows how its self-confident core remained intact in this development. But not for long. This volume ends with an examination of the abrupt shattering of this confidence brought on by the first world-wide war of European origin – and the imminence of a second. The promise of modernity was in ruins. Nothing, for Europe, would ever be the same again.
Part 2: Beyond Modernity is available now from Routledge. ISBN 9781032015828
Table of Contents
Preface: What does it mean to be European?
Introduction: Our Selective Memories of Europe
Part 1: European Cultural Identity
1. Ideas of Culture
2. Greek, Christian and Beyond
Part 2: Europe’s Modernity
3. From Barbarism to Civilization
4. The European Idea of Man
5. The Cosmopolitical Animal
Part 3: The History of the World
6. Perpetual Peace
7. Attained Freedom
8. Real Happiness
9. Complete Democracy
Part 4: A Sense of an Ending
10. Europe in Crisis
11. Dispiriting Europe
12. The Grand Tour: Looking Back and Looking Forward.
Simon Glendinning is Professor of European Philosophy and Head of the European Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
"There is much to be gained from every chapter of Europe: A Philosophical History, and at every stage Glendinning’s skill as reader, expositor and critic shines through." - Jonathan Wolff, LSE Review of Books
"In this remarkable two-volume work, Glendinning analyzes the ways in which European thinkers have revised their view of history since Kant. Kant believed people could, and should, work for universal peace and had the freedom to do so, but his successors thought differently. ... Marx subsequently ridiculed Hegel's Spirit (a religious notion) and called for proletarian revolution. ... Then came the onslaught of new views: Nietzsche saw contemporary society as uncreative and crass, Darwin saw humans as the product of evolution, and Freud saw humans as motivated, at least in large part, by aggression. WW I followed, as did totalitarian dictatorships, WW II, and genocide. Drawing on contemporary French thinkers, Glendinning expertly traces this philosophical history to the present, showing that Europe is now in an age of uncertainty and political manipulation. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals." - S. Bailey, CHOICE
"In these timely volumes, the idea of Europe - the site of so much contemporary political strife - receives a philosophical interrogation commensurate with its nature. Glendinning's rigorous and compelling delineation of modern Europe's conception of itself, as at once philosophy's historical cradle and its cultural offspring, deftly draws upon the very self-understanding he analyses to confirm its current exhaustion, and to affirm its capacity for radical self-renewal." - Stephen Mulhall, University of Oxford, UK
"In this remarkable two-volume book, Simon Glendinning inhabits and works through a 'philosophical history of the philosophical history' of Europe. This is exemplary work, its readings developed with erudition, patience, and rigor. By the end of the second volume we come to see how the traditional concept of Europe is 'exhausted', but not thereby left entirely hopeless or without promise. This is a sustained, often brilliant, exercise of reading the unfolding deconstruction of the dominant European understanding of Europe, one that can indeed stand as perhaps its own best example of what the old name 'Europe' can still call forth in philosophy today. A magnificent achievement." - Geoffrey Bennington, Emory University, USA