If Louis Dupre is correct in this important new appraisal of modernity as an unfinished project, perhaps it is too early to so easily be talking about ''post-modernity.'' Dupre describes the shattering of the classical worldview and the origins of modernity in the early Renaissance's emphasis on human creativity, the efforts of some philosophers and theologians, such as Cusanus, Bruno, Ignatius of Loyola and Francis de Sales, to ''reunite the human, cosmic, and transcendent components,'' and the subsequent resumption of the disintegrating forces of Renaissance humanism after this brief respite. The present task, Dupre hints, is to find a principle of reintegration. So much for description of this book. As for evaluation, we simply stand aside for our betters: ''Louis Dupre has written a brilliant, unsettling, and provocative essay about the genesis of modernity. He identifies not one, but two distinct moments at which Western thinkers severed important links with their premodern past, challenging theses advanced by Heidegger and Blumenberg, among others. Whether it turns out to be true or false, his thesis has to be taken very seriously.'' -- Alasdair MacIntyre. ''This brilliant work challenges all the more familiar portraits of modernity. No philosopher or theologian can afford to ignore this extraordinary study of our common heritage. It is one of those rare works that change one's vision of our central questions.'' -- David Tracy. ''... a magisterial study of the project and revolution that was modernity. Tracing through the histories of philosophy and theology the movement towards an anthropomorphic center of culture, this capacious work will be found intriguing and provocative in its reading of this history and indispensable for future inquiries into modernity. I recommend it highly.'' -- Michael J. Buckley, S.J. 300 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
Did modernity begin with the Renaissance and end with post-modernity? In this book a distinguished scholar challenges both these assumptions. Louis Dupre discusses the roots, development, and impact of modern thought, tracing the fundamental principles of modernity to the late fourteenth century and affirming that modernity is still an influential force in contemporary culture. The combination of late medieval theology and early Italian humanism shattered the traditional synthesis that had united cosmic, human, and transcendent components in a comprehensive idea of nature. Early Italian humanism transformed the traditional worldview by its unprecedented emphasis on human creativity. The person emerged as the sole source of meaning while nature was reduced to an object and transcendence withdrew into a "supernatural" realm. Dupre analyzes this fragmentation as well as the writings of those who reacted against it-philosophers like Cusanus and Bruno, humanists like Ficino and Erasmus, theologians like Baius and Jansenius, mystics like Ignatius Loyola and Francis de Sales, and theosophists like Weigel and Boehme. Baroque culture briefly reunited the human, cosmic, and transcendent components, but since that time the disintegrating forces have increased in strength. Despite post-modern criticism, the principles of early modernity continue to dominate the climate of our time. Passage to Modernity is not so much a critique as a search for the philosophical meaning of the epochal change achieved by those principles.