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Marcel Gauchet

Bio: Marcel Gauchet is an academic researcher from School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences. The author has contributed to research in topic(s): Politics & Disenchantment. The author has an hindex of 22, co-authored 96 publication(s) receiving 2113 citation(s).

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Abstract: "The scope, freedom of thought, and analytical rigor of this book make it essential reading."--Jean-Jacques Courtine, University of California, Santa BarbaraMarcel Gauchet has launched one of the most ambitious and controversial works of speculative history recently to appear, based on the contention that Christianity is "the religion of the end of religion." In The Disenchantment of the World, Gauchet reinterprets the development of the modern west, with all its political and psychological complexities, in terms of mankind's changing relation to religion. He views Western history as a movement away from religious society, beginning with prophetic Judaism, gaining tremendous momentum in Christianity, and eventually leading to the rise of the political state. Gauchet's view that monotheistic religion itself was a form of social revolution is rich with implications for readers in fields across the humanities and social sciences.Life in religious society, Gauchet reminds us, involves a very different way of being than we know in our secular age: we must imagine prehistoric times where ever-present gods controlled every aspect of daily reality, and where ancestor worship grounded life's meaning in a far-off past. As prophecy-oriented religions shaped the concept of a single omnipotent God, one removed from the world and yet potentially knowable through prayer and reflection, human beings became increasingly free. Gauchet's paradoxical argument is that the development of human political and psychological autonomy must be understood against the backdrop of this double movement in religious consciousness--the growth of divine power and its increasing distance from human activity.In a fittingtribute to this passionate and brilliantly argued book, Charles Taylor offers an equally provocative foreword. Offering interpretations of key concepts proposed by Gauchet, Taylor also explores an important question: Does religion have a place in the future of Western society? The book does not close the door on religion but rather invites us to explore its socially constructive powers, which continue to shape Western politics and conceptions of the state.

260 citations

23 Mar 1989
Abstract: Le Bicentenaire de 1789 a ete l’occasion d’une redecouverte de La Revolution des droits de l’homme. C’est l’exacte portee que revetirent ces droits dans la Revolution que ce livre s’efforce de reconstituer. Il se concentre principalement sur la gestation des dix-sept articles de la Declaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen arretes par l’Assemblee nationale constituante le 26 aout 1789. Etrangement neglige par les historiens, ce debat eclaire aussi bien le processus revolutionnaire lui-meme qu’il met en evidence les problemes fondamentaux de l’univers democratique. Il introduit a une dimension essentielle et meconnue de l’evenement : la cristallisation, sur quelques semaines de l’ete I789, avec l’idee d’une reconstruction de la societe sur la base de la liberte et de l’egalite, d’une vision de la politique qui allait commander toute la suite. Mais c’est egalement l’autre visage des droits de l’homme que la discussion de 1789 et ses recommencements de 1793 et 1795 font apparaitre, en mettant en relief les contradictions et les conflits qui en sont inseparables, a l’enseigne notamment des devoirs et des secours. En quoi le retour a cette scene primitive vaut introduction aux antinomies dont notre histoire reste faite.

133 citations

27 Feb 2002
Abstract: La democratie regne sans partage ni melange. Elle est venue a bout de ses vieux ennemis, du cote de la reaction et du cote de la revolution. Il se pourrait toutefois qu’elle ait trouve son plus redoutable adversaire : elle-meme. Ce livre rassemble des textes ecrits sur vingt ans qui scrutent sous differentes faces le prodigieux changement auquel il nous a ete donne d’assister. Nous avons vu la democratie non seulement l’emporter et avancer de facon decisive, mais revenir a ses sources en se recentrant sur les droits de l’homme et en se remodelant a leur ecole. Sauf que, par un retournement encore plus inattendu, cette ressaisie des premiers principes la conduit en realite a saper ses propres bases. Elle se defait en progressant. C’est cette difficulte d’etre inedite qu’explore Marcel Gauchet, de la politique a la psychologie, en passant par l’education. « Rien n’echoue comme le succes », observait Chesterton. La democratie survivra-t-elle a son triomphe ?

126 citations

01 Jan 1985

115 citations

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Abstract: To this point, the anthropology of Christianity has largely failed to develop. When anthropologists study Christians, they do not see themselves as contributing to a broad comparative enterprise in the way those studying other world religions do. A close reading of the Comaroffs’ Of Revelation and Revolution illustrates the ways in which anthropologists sideline Christianity and leads to a discussion of reasons the anthropology of Christianity has languished. While it is possible to locate the cause in part in the culture of anthropology, with its emphasis on difference, problems also exist at the theoretical level. Most anthropological theories emphasize cultural continuity as opposed to discontinuity and change. This emphasis becomes problematic where Christianity is concerned, because many kinds of Christianity stress radical change and expect it to occur. Confronted by people claiming that radical Christian change has occurred in their lives, anthropologists become suspicious and often explain away th...

478 citations

20 Nov 2008
Abstract: Preface Introduction Part I. Overseeing Democracy: 1. Vigilance, denunciation, evaluation 2. The overseers 3. The thread of history 4. Legitimacy conflicts Part II. The Sovereignty of Prevention: 5. From the right of resistance to complex sovereignty 6. Self-critical democracies 7. Negative politics Part III. The People as Judge: 8. Historical references 9. Almost legislators 10. The preference for judgement Part IV. Unpolitical Democracy: 11. The sense of powerlessness and symbols of depoliticization 12. The populist temptation 13. Lessons of unpolitical economy 14. Conclusion: the modern mixed regime.

435 citations

01 Jan 2002
Abstract: tive, both Formalists and Substantivists had entirely missed the point, because all their debates had been about distribution and exchange. To understand a society, they argued, one must first of all understand how it continues to exist—or, as they put it, “reproduces” itself—by endless creative activity. This was quite different from functionalism. Functionalists begin with a notion of “society,” then ask how that society manages to hold itself together. Marxists start by asking how what we call “society” is continually being re-created through various sorts of productive action, and how a society’s most basic forms of exploitation and inequality are thus rooted in the social relations through which people do so. This has obvious advantages. The problem with the whole “mode of production” approach, though, was that it was developed to analyze societies with a state: that is, in which there is a ruling class that maintains an apparatus of coercion to extract a surplus from the people who do most of the productive work. Most of the real triumphs of the MoP approach—I am thinking, for example, of Perry Anderson’s magisterial “Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism” (1974a) and “Lineages of the Absolutist State” (1974b)—deal with outlining the history of different modes of production, many of which can coexist in a given society; the way in which the dominant one provides the basis for a ruling class whose interests are protected by the state; the way that modes of production contain fundamental contradictions that will, at least in most cases, ultimately drive them to turn into something else. Once one turns to societies without a state, it’s not clear how any of these concepts are to be applied. One thing Marxism did introduce was a series of powerful analytical terms—exploitation, fetishism, appropriation, reproduction... —that everyone agreed Marx himself had used brilliantly in his analysis of Capitalism, but that no one was quite sure how to apply outside it. Different scholars would use these terms in very different ways and then would often end up quar-

417 citations

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Abstract: This paper argues that the national populisms of Northern and Western Europe form a distinctive cluster within the wider north Atlantic and pan-European populist conjuncture. They are distinctive i...

334 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: In recent years, the sociology of religion has been consumed by a debate over secularization that pits advocates of a new, rational-choice paradigm (the so-called religious economies model) against defenders of classical secularization theory. According to the old paradigm, the Western world has become increasingly secular since the Middle Ages; according to the new paradigm, it has become increasingly religious. I put these two images of religious development to the test through a detailed examination of religious life in Western Europe before and after the Reformation. I conclude that the changes in social structure and religious experience that occurred during this period were considerably more complex than either the old or new paradigms suggest and, indeed, that the two paradigms are neither so opposed nor so irreconcilable as many of their defenders contend. It is possible, indeed probable, that Western society has become more secular without becoming less religious. I discuss the limitations of the two competing paradigms and sketch the outlines of a more adequate theory of religious change

297 citations