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The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness: A Vindication of…

por Reinhold Niebuhr

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314365,178 (4.08)1
The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, first published in 1944, is considered one of the most profound and relevant works by the influential theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, and certainly the fullest statement of his political philosophy. Written and first read during the prolonged, tragic world war between totalitarian and democratic forces, Niebuhr's book took up the timely question of how democracy as a political system could best be defended.         Most proponents of democracy, Niebuhr claimed, were "children of light," who had optimistic but na#65533;ve ideas about how society could be rid of evil and governed by enlightened reason. They needed, he believed, to absorb some of the wisdom and strength of the "children of darkness," whose ruthless cynicism and corrupt, anti-democratic politics should otherwise be repudiated. He argued for a prudent, liberal understanding of human society that took the measure of every group's self-interest and was chastened by a realistic understanding of the limits of power. It is in the foreword to this book that he wrote, "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possib≤ but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." This edition includes a new introduction by the theologian and Niebuhr scholar Gary Dorrien in which he elucidates the work's significance and places it firmly into the arc of Niebuhr's career.… (mais)
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Reinhold Niebuhr's political philosophy is best on the topics of property and pluralism. His writing style is such that the book is heavy-going. ( )
  M_Clark | Jan 3, 2020 |
Niebuhr's book is more critique than vindication, and what vindication there is is for the intellectual resources of the Christian heritage. He critiques "children of light" philosophers, social theorists, and political actors and ideologues for their sentimentality and naivety, which manifests as an over-optimistic faith in human rationality, morality, and progress. Marxists and liberals alike come in for censure for their "stupidity"--the latter for their misguided individualism and rationalism which blinds them to the dangers of nationalism and fascism, and the former for their failure to grasp how imbalances of power resulting from even the collective ownership of property present grave insuperable obstacles to their anarchic utopia.
The book is punctuated by interesting, if sometimes throw-away, observations and insights on the origins of fascism and the roots of unrest and dissatisfaction in modern society.
  burkenorm | Mar 19, 2018 |
Niebuhr's book is more critique than vindication, and what vindication there is is for the intellectual resources of the Christian heritage. He critiques "children of light" philosophers, social theorists, and political actors and ideologues for their sentimentality and naivety, which manifests as an over-optimistic faith in human rationality, morality, and progress. Marxists and liberals alike come in for censure for their "stupidity"--the latter for their misguided individualism and rationalism which blinds them to the dangers of nationalism and fascism, and the former for their failure to grasp how imbalances of power resulting from even the collective ownership of property present grave insuperable obstacles to their anarchic utopia.

The book is punctuated by interesting, if sometimes throw-away, observations and insights on the origins of fascism and the roots of unrest and dissatisfaction in modern society. ( )
  lukeasrodgers | Feb 18, 2014 |
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Man’s capacity for justice make democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.
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The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, first published in 1944, is considered one of the most profound and relevant works by the influential theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, and certainly the fullest statement of his political philosophy. Written and first read during the prolonged, tragic world war between totalitarian and democratic forces, Niebuhr's book took up the timely question of how democracy as a political system could best be defended.         Most proponents of democracy, Niebuhr claimed, were "children of light," who had optimistic but na#65533;ve ideas about how society could be rid of evil and governed by enlightened reason. They needed, he believed, to absorb some of the wisdom and strength of the "children of darkness," whose ruthless cynicism and corrupt, anti-democratic politics should otherwise be repudiated. He argued for a prudent, liberal understanding of human society that took the measure of every group's self-interest and was chastened by a realistic understanding of the limits of power. It is in the foreword to this book that he wrote, "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possib≤ but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." This edition includes a new introduction by the theologian and Niebuhr scholar Gary Dorrien in which he elucidates the work's significance and places it firmly into the arc of Niebuhr's career.

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