Human Flourishing, Liberal Theory, and the Arts : A Liberalism of Flourishing book cover
1st Edition

Human Flourishing, Liberal Theory, and the Arts
A Liberalism of Flourishing

ISBN 9780367524531
Published April 28, 2020 by Routledge
208 Pages

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Book Description

This book claims that in addition to autonomy, liberal tradition recognizes human flourishing as an ideal of the good life. There are two versions of the liberalism of flourishing: for one the good life consists in the ability of an individual to develop her intellectual and moral capabilities, and for the other the good life is one in which an individual succeeds in materializing her varied human capabilities. Both versions expect the state to create the background conditions for flourishing.   

Combining the history of ideas with analytical political philosophy, Menachem Mautner finds the roots of the liberalism of flourishing in the works of great philosophers, and argues that for individuals to reach flourishing they need to engage with art. Art provides us with wisdom, insight, critical social and political thinking, and moral education. Thus, a state which practices the liberalism of flourishing must play an active role in funding the creation and dissemination of art. Consequently, the liberalism of flourishing is better equipped than autonomy liberalism to compete with religion in the domains of meaning and over the shape of the regime, the political culture and the law in countries in which liberalism is contested.

Political theorists and lawyers will enjoy engaging with this version of liberalism, as will students of social democracy and art policy.

Table of Contents


Part I: The Liberalism of Flourishing: Two Versions

Chapter 1: Intellectualist-Moralist Liberalism of Flourishing

Chapter 2: Comprehensive Liberalism of Flourishing

Chapter 3: The Liberalism of Flourishing and Autonomy Liberalism: Some Comparisons

Part II: Flourishing, Art, and the State

Chapter 4: Art and Flourishing

Chapter 5: Art and the Liberal State

Part III: Liberalism, Art, and Religion

Chapter 6: Liberalism, Religion, Nationalism: Liberalism in the Domains of Meaning

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Menachem Mautner is the Danielle Rubinstein Professor of Comparative Civil Law and Jurisprudence at the Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University. He holds a LL.B and a LL.M from the Faculty of Law of Tel Aviv University, and a LL.M. and J.S.D. from Yale Law School. He is the author of six books, including Law and the Culture of Israel published in 2011. (An Italian version, Dirito e Cultura in Israele, translated with an introduction by Daniela Bifulco and Fulvio Cortese, was published in 2014 by Franco Angeli, Milano.) Mautner has edited six books, and published over 90 articles and chapters in books in Israel, the United States and Britain (including in the law reviews of Yale, Michigan and Cornell universities). In 2014 he served as head of the "Sapir Prize of Literature Committee", the Israeli equivalent of the British Man Booker Prize for Fiction.


"An important and thoughtful book. Arguing that liberalism is not just about individual rights but also about personal growth and development, Mautner maintains that its ultimate goal is the enrichment and widening of human potentialities in all spheres of social life. In true Renaissance fashion, this book will remind its readers that the liberal project is not merely a legalistic device, but has the spheres of culture, creativity and the arts and their enjoyment as its core aim of human development." - Shlomo Avineri, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

"In Menachem Mautner’s compelling genealogy of liberal thought, the contemplation of the arts and humanities is essential to the pursuit of an ideal life. His appraisal is as accessible as it is distinctive, supplying an urgently needed reminder that the pursuit of art is indispensable to individual happiness and social progress. Anyone seeking a corrective to the current belief in some quarters that art has become superfluous cannot do better than begin with this brilliant and deeply researched volume." - Lee Bollinger, Columbia University, U.S.A.

"[Menachem Mautner] furthers claims that “the liberalism of flourishing is better equipped than autonomy liberalism to compete with religion in the domains of big and deep meaning.”65 Mautner is justified in making those claims. He has made a powerful case for a version of liberalism that is an attractive alternative to autonomy liberalism. In a secular age, the liberalism of flourishing provides citizens with means of gaining insight into fundamental existential questions. It is an important book and deserves to be widely read." - Gregiry S. Alexander, Canadian Journal Law & Jurisprudemce XXXII

"Human Flourishing, Liberal Theory, and the Arts skillfully and profoundly brings together aesthetics with theories of law, or, better yet, philosophy of art with social and political thought....It sets out a big theory, but does so carefully and precisely." - Michalle Gal, The British Journal of Aesthetics.