For the first time, Imperfect Garden is a friendly intellectual history and support for how we understand and experience our lives. In this, one of France's leading thinkers explores the foundations, limits and possibilities of human thought.
Through his critical and compassionate excavations, Tsvitan Todorov seeks an answer to the fundamental challenge of modernity: how to preserve our hard-won freedom without paying a heavy price for social relations, shared values, and a cohesive, responsible sense of self. Todorov reads a new major humanitarian work - primarily Montaigne, Rousseau, Constant, but also Descartes, Montesquieu, and Tuckville.
Each chapter examines the approach of humanity to one central theme of human existence: freedom, social life, love, self, morality, and expression. Todorov, who discusses humanity in dialogue with other systems, argues in response to the dilemma of modernity, which is more useful than anything offered by conservative currents, scientific determinism, existential individualism, or other contemporary rivals of humanity.
Humanism suggests that we are members of a smart and social group that can act according to our will while linking the welfare of other members and ourselves. Through this understanding of free will, Todorov argues, we can use humanity to save the world and reconcile human freedom with solidarity and personal safety.
By setting the history of ideas in the service of the search for moral and political wisdom, Todorov's unquestionable and irrefutable test of human ideas attests to the permanent ability of those thoughts to meditate - and, if lucky, to plant - the incomplete garden in which we live.
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