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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two cents...
I don't usually write reviews but because this lacks one, and because as a student of politics and history this has been invaluable help, I'll offer my thoughts.

This is not a polemic like Gray's more recent works; instead it is a series of essays written in the early 1990s which range from issues of toleration and agonistic liberalism to the transition of post...
Published on 14 Dec. 2009 by Honky Tonk Woman

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Produced very badly by Routledge
The problem isn't Gray's writing, the content of the book is excellent, and I hesitated giving it a one star review lest it reflect badly on Gray. The problem is Routledge. This is an awful edition. The pages are printed slanted, the binding is awful, and as one turns the page the pages fall out. Try for a different edition, even if secondhand.
Published 8 months ago by ajaan


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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two cents..., 14 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Enlightenment's Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age (Routledge Classics) (Paperback)
I don't usually write reviews but because this lacks one, and because as a student of politics and history this has been invaluable help, I'll offer my thoughts.

This is not a polemic like Gray's more recent works; instead it is a series of essays written in the early 1990s which range from issues of toleration and agonistic liberalism to the transition of post communist societies. The broad thesis is that the collapse of the Soviet Union will, instead of heralding victory for liberalism, precipitate a legitimacy crisis and ultimately a return to classic geopolitical conflicts centred around ethnic, religious and resource conflicts. But whilst later books such as 'Black Mass' focus on the practical results of this, Enlightenments Wake is an exploration of the philosophical foundations of the Enlightenment and the implications to classical liberalism and society in general of its collapse.

Though Gray isn't a particularly original thinker, like his mentor Isaiah Berlin, he is extraordinarily well read, has an uncanny feel for the trends of his time, and is an extremely perceptive and critical interpreter of other thinkers. For anyone with any interest in politics he is an invaluable introduction to late liberal thought and often ignored thinkers such as Illich, Oakeshot and McIntyre. In particular the final eponymous essay is, in my opinion, the greatest ever written on the subject of political philosophy.

`The dissolution of morality, as that was conceived in both classical and Christian terms, and the fracturing of the inherited of the inherited Western world-view into a diversity of incommensurable perspectives, which is accomplished in Nietzsche's thought, are irreparable, and any cultural losses they may entail are irretrievable. We shall make the best of the opportunities this cultural mutation affords if we relinquish the search for grounds - metaphysical, transcendental or rational - on which we have run around in nihilism. Instead, abandoning the spirit of seriousness that has animated Western philosophy from its founding we may then come to regard the world -views intimated in our culture lightly and playfully, as evanescent art forms rather than weighty representations of the truth.'
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Food for Thought, 18 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Enlightenment's Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age (Routledge Classics) (Paperback)
John Gray is concerned with the failure of the "Enlightenment Project". The peoples of the world are not converging into a universal civilization on a Western model, and the political philosophers have failed to provide a theory that can justify a single universal political morality by appeal to abstract reason alone. Liberal democracy, according to Gray, is a product of historical contingency, not necessity. We may or may not agree with Gray. It is fair to say, however, that very little has happened since this book was first published in 1995 that makes it seem less relevant or valid.

I am not convinced by all of Gray's conclusions. I found the book stimulating, however.

Gray has a tendency to repeat himself more often than is absolutely necessary. I think that this to some extent may be explained by the fact that the book is based on articles first published in various periodicals.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put your thinking cap on, 4 Jun. 2010
By 
C. Tymon - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enlightenment's Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age (Routledge Classics) (Paperback)
John Gray is so far ahead in thought that at times you have to stop reading and just digest what you have just read.
If hard realism and the cutting away of all the modern day illusions which we take to be truth is what you are looking for then this is just the book for you.
If, however, this is your first go at a Gray book I would strongly suggest reading Straw Dogs first as an introduction to this author as this book will be hard going for the uninitated.
Gray is a master of modern day political philosophy and you can read his books again and again.
Excellent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Produced very badly by Routledge, 9 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Enlightenment's Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age (Routledge Classics) (Paperback)
The problem isn't Gray's writing, the content of the book is excellent, and I hesitated giving it a one star review lest it reflect badly on Gray. The problem is Routledge. This is an awful edition. The pages are printed slanted, the binding is awful, and as one turns the page the pages fall out. Try for a different edition, even if secondhand.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Making for Utopia but hitting the rocks of Dystopia, 5 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Enlightenment's Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age (Routledge Classics) (Paperback)
One of my kinder critics observed that I had given Gray a hard time when reviewing one of his other books. I continue to read him however (as I am generally sympathetic) and thus to make amends grant this book four stars. Interesting at all times and with much to ponder.

The enlightenment seems such a good idea, yet the consequences - less than desirable - are all around. There is thus, not merely a counter-enlightenment but also a Dark Enlightenment set upon shafting the consequences of Enlightenment dreams with their own petard (but this book does not venture that far).
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4 of 59 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Misanthropic drivel, 9 Jun. 2009
By 
William Podmore (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enlightenment's Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age (Routledge Classics) (Paperback)
This writer is consistently praised by the Guardian and the New Statesman - one wonders why, given that he is a misanthropic, untalented oddball, without an original idea.
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