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Earthly Paradise

Earthly Paradise

Myths and Philosophies

Milad Doueihi

Translated by Jane Marie Todd

ISBN 9780674032859

Publication date: 06/30/2009

Paradise haunts the Biblical West. At once the place of origin and exile, utopia and final destination, it has shaped our poetic and religious imagination and informed literary and theological accounts of man’s relation with his creator, with language and history. For Kant, Paradise was the inaugural moment for the rise and progress of reason as the agency of human history, slowly but certainly driving humanity away from error and superstition. Nietzsche described it more somberly as the very embodiment of the conflict between humanity and its beliefs.

In Earthly Paradise, Milad Doueihi contemplates key moments in the philosophical reception and uses of Paradise, marked by the rise of critical and historical methods in the Early Modern period. How do modern debates around the nature of evil, free will, and the origin of language grow out of the philosophical interpretations of Paradise as the site of human history? How do the reflections of Spinoza, Pierre Bayle, Leibniz, and their contemporaries inform our current ideas about the Biblical narrative of the Fall? Is Paradise the source of human error or an utopian vision of humanity itself?


  • Anyone who wants to understand the ethical turn in modern philosophy, or the intellectual roots of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, needs to read Doueihi's account of the philosophical conditions under which our ideas of paradise developed and were at last overthrown. In this lucid study, beautifully translated by Jane Marie Todd, Milad Doueihi, argues that while the earthly paradise belongs to myth, it is a myth around which our most vital thinking continually turns.

    —Gordon Teskey, Harvard University


  • Milad Doueihi holds the Chair of Research on Digital Cultures, Laval University.

Book Details

  • 192 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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