Metamorphoses of the City

Metamorphoses of the City

Pierre Manent
TRANSLATED BY MARC LEPAIN
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wpmwr
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  • Book Info
    Metamorphoses of the City
    Book Description:

    Metamorphoses of the City is a sweeping interpretation of Europe's ambition to generate ever better forms of collective self-government, from ancient city-states and empires to a universal church and the nation-state. But the nation-state is nearing the end of its line, Pierre Manent says, and what will supplant it remains to be seen.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72643-7
    Subjects: Philosophy, History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION: The Dynamic of the West
    (pp. 1-14)

    We have been modern now for several centuries. We are modern and we want to be modern. This is the orientation of the entire life of our societies in the West. There is frequent criticism of this or that aspect of modernization, and some even criticize “modernity” as such, but “conservative” efforts have succeeded only in slowing the movement at most, while “conservative” endeavors in general have ended up accelerating the movement. And so we want to be modern. We give ourselves an order to be modern. But the fact that the will to be modern has been at work...

  4. I THE ORIGINAL EXPERIENCE OF THE CITY
    • 1 WHAT SCIENCE FOR THE CITY?
      (pp. 17-28)

      As we take up the great question of the political development of the West, it is necessary to briefly take stock of our tools of knowledge. To sum up the resources of our workshop, we have at our disposal two political sciences, the ancient and the new, namely, Greek political science and modern political science. The latter could be called European since it was elaborated from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, principally by the Italians, the British, and the French.

      In Greek political science, politics and the science of politics came to light together, and for the first time....

    • 2 THE POETIC BIRTH OF THE CITY
      (pp. 29-62)

      After what we have said of the three “natures” of the city, it is natural to begin with its first nature, with its poetic “birth,” or with its birth as displayed and analyzed by poetry. Poetry here is meant to include epic and tragedy, since comedy does not give us the birth of the city but an image of its life and perhaps of its decline.

      Epic and tragedy have in common that they “imitate noble actions” (Poetics,1448b25), that they are “an imitation of people who are to be taken seriously” (1449b10), whereas comedy is “an imitation of persons...

    • 3 THE CIVIC OPERATION
      (pp. 63-102)

      The first part of our inquiry was devoted chiefly to war, more precisely to the warlike condition that precedes and prepares the civic condition, the life of the city. With the help of Homer we have studied the range of phenomena that modern political philosophy sums up by simplifying them under the rubric of the state of nature, or the state of war. It is now time to examine what the same modern political philosophy calls the civil state, which succeeds the state of nature as peace follows war. But the peace that the ancient city offered was a less...

  5. II THE ENIGMA OF ROME
    • 4 ROME AND THE GREEKS
      (pp. 105-151)

      Our inquiry is propelled and oriented by the question of political forms. The two great political forms, the two mother forms of the ancient world, are the city and the empire. They are the mother forms, but they are also the polar forms: the city is the narrow framework of a restless life in liberty; the empire is the immense domain of a peaceful life under a master. It is fairly obvious that it is impossible to pass directly from one form to another. In the Greek world, if the empire of Alexander “succeeded” the city, it did not come...

    • 5 ROME AS SEEN BY THE MODERNS
      (pp. 152-171)

      How could political thought in the end become operational? How did it escape the mutual paralysis of the empire and the city? That is the whole history of modern political philosophy, at least of thefirstmodern political philosophy that sought to produce political order starting from the absence of order. The second—I emphasized this difference at the start of our inquiry—begins from a specifically modern political experience, more precisely a specifically modern experience from which it draws political consequences. The first aims to produce a political instrument that would be universal, that is, one capable of producing...

    • 6 CICERO’S INQUIRY
      (pp. 172-210)

      We are wondering about the singularity of Rome, about the unique development that led from city to empire. Montesquieu has just made us aware to what extent this metamorphosis remains not only a political but also a moral, human mystery. This feeling of something puzzling or enigmatic is not the result of historical distance. What was happening to them was to the Romans themselves an enigma that they sought to elucidate with more intellectual rigor and zeal than we are wont to grant them. We can mea sure that if we take seriously the inquiry of the most intelligent among...

  6. III EMPIRE, CHURCH, NATION
    • 7 THE CRITIQUE OF PAGANISM
      (pp. 213-273)

      In hisPensées,Pascal wrote:

      If we are too young our judgement is impaired, just as it is if we are too old.

      Thinking too little about things or thinking too much both make us obstinate and fanatical.

      If we look at our work immediately after completing it, we are still too involved; if too long afterwards, we cannot pick up the thread again.

      It is like looking at pictures which are too near or too far away. There is just one indivisible point which is the right place.

      Others are too near, too far, too high, or too low....

    • 8 THE TWO CITIES
      (pp. 274-303)

      It was necessary to examine with some care the “critique of paganism” that occupies such a great place inThe City of God.However, it is now time to deal with the principal theme around which Augustine’s argument is organized and that gives the whole undertaking its meaning.

      How does Augustine describe relations between the two cities?

      The point from which to begin is that unlike nations in general among themselves, unlike also what takes place between Israel and the nations, the two cities Augustine deals with are notvisiblyseparated. Certainly, the Church is in one sense and in...

    • 9 THE STAKES OF MEDIATION
      (pp. 304-328)

      At the end of chapter 8 we considered the four great “versions of the universal” that are Jewish law, Greek philosophy, the Christian Church, and humanity understood according to the modern perspective. Now, if these are all so many replies to the question of the universal, one could also say that they are so many replies to the question of God. In both cases it is a matter of reaching, so to speak, the limit of what can be thought, the largest or highest thought. The close solidarity between the two questions is obvious in the case of Jewish law...

  7. NOTES
    (pp. 329-364)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 365-376)