Review: The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief

by Sep 22, 2014Books, Culture0 comments

The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal BeliefThe Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief by George M. Marsden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perceptive, readable, fascinating. What really stuck out to me was that the intellectuals of the 1950s were facing the same dissolution of moral discourse that I believe we are facing in our generation—and for the same reasons. We’re just further along the path of dissolution. Those who sounded the alarm in the 1950s (specifically Walter Lippmann) were pooh-poohed and ignored. But they were right: “the typical consensus outlooks of the time [the 1950s] can be understood as attempts to preserve the ideals of the American enlightenment while discarding its foundations.” Those foundations are long gone. And Marsden gives a little attention at the end of the book to answering the question, “What can the righteous do?”

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