, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 235-237
Date: 05 Mar 2011

Review of Milad Doueihi, Earthly Paradise: Myths and Philosophies, trans. Jane Marie Todd, Harvard University Press, 2009, ISBN: 978-0674032859, hb, 192pp.

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At the end of his treatment of how modern intellectuals redeployed the biblical figure of earthly paradise, Milad Doueihi tells us he was born in the Lebanese village of Ehden, identified by the erudite bishop Pierre-Daniel Huet in Traité de la Situation du Paradis Terrestre (1691) as one of the possible sites of the biblical Eden. As Doueihi argues throughout, all Western intellectuals today share a genetic link to the biblical birthplace of humanity in that it informed modern philosophical efforts to situate the autonomy of reason and modern forms of sociability. This abiding relationship with Eden stands in contrast to our tendency to assume a secular break with biblical narrative in philosophical argumentation since the Enlightenment. Where modern intellectuals diverged from their earlier Christian counterparts, according to Doueihi, was in the ‘shift from the way humans posed the question of their future and their history in relation to a founding narrative—a shift from utopia to