Translated with an Introduction by Paul Seaton, 176 page, 6" x 9", introduction, notes, index; publication date: September 2016
Legitimacy of the Human, The
The Legitimacy of the Human presents itself as a satellite work to a more voluminous effort by Rémi Brague, The Kingdom of Man. The larger book argues the thesis of the increasingly visible failure of the modern project, founded upon a view of man as thoroughly emancipated and autonomous, his own sovereign and the world’s. This is most visible in our technological powers and predicaments, with their ever-growing capacity to destroy or fundamentally transform our humanity, but understandings of freedom and equality unable to justify themselves before the bar of reason, but willfully asserting themselves, complement the picture. If modernity’s precious gains are to be preserved, and with them their beneficiaries, modern human beings, then the founding thoughts of the modern world need to be revisited and revised, often in terms of a creative reengagement with premodern ones. A new, truly humanistic, culture needs to be sought.
The Legitimacy of the Human drives home that basic argument, surveying contemporary challenges to the very existence of humanity, then interrogating modern thought and philosophy for reasons it might have for the continuation of the human adventure. Brague finds the self-proclaimed advocates of the modern strikingly silent or even negative about the proposition. To be sure, in many instances modern philosophy has helped humanity organize itself better in terms of justice, peaceful coexistence, and prosperity. But on the basic question whether it is good that humans exist, it is strangely tongue-tied. Other authorities must be consulted, other sources drawn from, to credibly answer that fundamental existential question. The last two chapters of the book hearken to the answer of the biblical God, as expressed in Genesis 1 and recapitulated by the Word Incarnate of the Gospels.