Book

This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom

Cover of the book titled "This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom."

Martin Hägglund, professor of comparative literature and of humanities

(Pantheon)

In this book, philosopher Martin Hägglund strives to challenge 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. 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 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.

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