Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom
in conversation with JAMES WOOD
This event includes a book signing
April 11, 2019
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store and Mass Humanities welcome acclaimed writer and Yale professor MARTIN HÄGGLUND for a discussion of his latest book, This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom. He will be joined in conversation by New Yorker critic, writer, and Harvard professor JAMES WOOD.
About This Life
In this groundbreaking book, the philosopher Martin Hägglund challenges our received notions of faith and freedom. The faith we need to cultivate, he argues, is not a religious faith in eternity but a secular faith devoted to our finite life together. He shows that all spiritual questions of freedom are inseparable from economic and material conditions. What ultimately matters is how we treat one another in this life, and what we do with our time together.
Hägglund develops new existential and political principles while transforming our understanding of spiritual life. His critique of religion takes us to the heart of what it means to mourn our loved ones, be committed, and care about a sustainable world. His critique of capitalism demonstrates that we fail to sustain our democratic values because our lives depend on wage labor. In clear and pathbreaking terms, Hägglund explains why capitalism is inimical to our freedom, and why we should instead pursue a novel form of democratic socialism.
In developing his vision of an emancipated secular life, Hägglund engages with great philosophers from Aristotle to Hegel and Marx, literary writers from Dante to Proust and Knausgaard, political economists from Mill to Keynes and Hayek, and religious thinkers from Augustine to Kierkegaard and Martin Luther King, Jr. This Life gives us new access to our past—for the sake of a different future.
“Martin Hägglund's This Life is a splendid primer on the importance of authentic freedom.” —Yanis Varoufakis, Former Greek Minister of Finance and bestselling author of Adults in the Room
"Arriving at a moment of widespread intellectual and political disorientation, This Life is a timely, profoundly ambitious attempt to fashion a new foundation for personal and collective existence. Hägglund argues that a return to Marx’s radical materialism does not have to signal a loss of spirituality or contempt for democracy, but something like the opposite: a truly secular faith in a redemptive realm of freedom." —Stephen Greenblatt, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
“This is a rare piece of work, the product of great intellectual strength and moral fortitude. The writing shows extraordinary range and possesses an honesty and fervor which is entirely without cynicism . . . Hägglund is a genuine moralist for our times, possessed of an undaunted resoluteness and a fierce commitment to intellectual probity. Maybe he’s the philosophical analogue to Karl Ove Knausgaard.” —Simon Critchley, curator for The New York Times' The Stone and author of Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.
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