Thursday, 10 July 2008

Enlightenment pros and cons

On my list of books that I plan to read in the near future are Kenan Malik's Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate, which sounds like a much-needed riposte to cultural relativism and racialised thinking, and John Gray's Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, not because I have any great sympathy with Gray's ideas, but because a friend recommended it, and I thought I should read it in the interests of fairness and balance. So it was interesting to come across a link at Butterflies and Wheels to a review by Gray of Malik's book. It's not a very good review: more interested in  ad hominem insults - sneering at Malik as a 'pious disciple of the Enlightenment' and a 'remnant of the old Marxist left' - than in intelligently refuting the book's arguments.

Let's see now: anti-Enlightenment cultural pessimist versus a defender of Enlightenment values of progress and universalism - I wonder which book I'll prefer? I promise to approach both with an open mind, and report back.

More on Gray from Norm here.

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