government had to be endowed with indivisible, infallible, andrnirresistible sovereignty. Only if government had this powerrnwould it be able to crush those independent social authoritiesrnthat pose a threat to the individual’s autonomy. The individualrnwould have to obey, without question, the law of the sovereignrn(whether a monarch or democracy), but both the individualrnand the sovereign knew that complete freedom would obtain inrnthat domain in which the law was silent, and that the point ofrnlaw is to increase the scope of this domain as much as possible.rnThe modern state theorized by Hobbes, if consistently pursued,rnsubverts the public authority of tradition, and with it thosernpractices of virtue that had placed restraints on the egoishc soul.rnNew egoistic moralities emerged to provide justification for thernethic of individualism. Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Mandeville,rnand many others taught that man is motivated by self-interestrnand that social order is merely an artifice made out of contractsrnbetween enlightened egoists. Butler, Hutcheson, and Humern(who called it “the selfish system”) vigorously opposed this theoryrnand tried to find some place for virtue in the emerging modernrnstate. But they did not become central figures in the canonrnof modern moral philosophy; Kant and Mill did. Both soughtrnto restrain the egoism of individualism while rejecting traditionalrnauthority. For Mill, morality is nothing more than whatrnproduces the greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest number.rnEach choice is treated as equal. For Kant, any choice isrnmoral as long as the principle under which it falls can be universalizedrnas a law binding all rational agents. Having abandonedrna metaphysical conception of the human good as thernground of ethics, Kant and Mill have nothing substantial to sayrnabout the content of what is chosen. In their respective theories,rnmorality is reduced to alternative and incompatible ways ofrnshowing respect for choice-making in general.rnThe attack on tradition found in the Hobbesian modernrnstate and in the new moralities of autonomy was reinforcedrnby the revival of philosophy in the 16th century. Thisrnmode of thought, invented by the Greeks, is the most radicalrnform of autonomy. The philosopher makes claims about thernwhole of realit}’ and certifies these by nothing other than hisrnown thinking. Philosophy cannot defer to traditional autliorit)’rnwithout ceasing to be what it is. If a tradition is accepted, it isrnnot b’ virtue of its own authority, whether human or divine, butrnbecause it conforms to the philosopher’s own self-imposed criteriarnof what is acceptable. The radical autonomy of philosophyrnposed little threat to the traditions of ancient Greek and Romanrnsociet)’ because the philosopher was constrained by thernpagan civil magistrate, as Socrates and Aristotle well knew.rnLikewise, biblical tradition had kept the radical autonomy ofrnphilosophy in check during the long period of Ghristendom byrndeclaring reason to be “faith seeking understanding.”rnBut by the time of Descartes, the disposition to individualismrnhad found a strong ally in the revival of pagan Greek philosophy.rnDescartes is known as “the father of modern philosophy”rnbecause he established, as a principle of radonality itself, that allrntradition is to be presumed false unless it can be shown to bernotherwise by a mode of thought not subject to the authority ofrntradition. Descartes was careful to insist that this conception ofrnrationalitv’ should be applied only to metaphysics, physics, andrnmathematics; it had no place in morals, politics, or religion.rnBut this was only a paper barrier. Within a century, the radicalrnautonomy of philosophy would be grafted onto the ethics of individualit-.rnIn the past, the individual had criticized this or thatrnpart of tradition, but he had assumed the background of traditionrnagainst which to display his individuality. Now, as arnphilosopher, he could invoke the name of reason to emancipaternhimself, not just from this or that tradihon, but from tradihon asrnsuch.rnUntil Descartes, philosophical autonomy had been thernprovince of elites. Now, for the first fime in histor’, it would informrna mass consciousness. The wars of the 16th and 17th centuriesrnwere between theological sects. The great struggles of thern20th century would be between secular philosophical sects: liberalism,rnsocialism, Marxism, fascism, conservatism, feminism,rnmodernism, postmodernism, etc. By the middle of the 18thrncentury, Hume could complain that political discourse couldrnnot be conducted without a legitimating philosophical theor’rnthat would more often than not distort and corrupt whatever itrntouched. By the end of the centur)’, Thomas Paine, in CommonrnSense, would be peddling Hobbesianism for the masses.rnAnd of religion, he would say in The Age of Reason, “my ownrnmind is my church”—a maxim that could be written today overrnthe doors of schools of liberal Christian theology. Nearly a centuryrnafter Paine, Emerson, having enrancipated himself fromrnthe remaining fragments of his Protestant inheritance, wouldrnmarket for the masses the doctrine that choice-making as suchrnis the absolute: “On my saying, ‘What have I to do with the sacrednessrnof traditions, if I live wholly from within?’ my friendrnsuggested — ‘But these impulses may be from below, not fromrnabove.’ I replied, ‘They do not seem to me to be such; but if Irnam the Devil’s child, I will live then from the Devil.’ No lawrncan be sacred to me but that of my own nature.” Nietzsche, understandably,rnhad a great respect for Emerson.rnBy the late 19th century, ftie individual had come a long way.rnFrom the first spirited actions of late medieval Christianrnfreemen, he had invented an entirely new form of political associationrn—the modern state—to provide a protected space forrnthe pursuit of individual autonomy. He had devised a numberrnof entirely new moralities that legitimated choice-making asrnnearly the whole of the moral life. And he had even redefinedrnreason itself in such a way as to eliminate from rational discoursernthe ideas of human nature, the human good, and tradition.rnHuman nature, as understood by the individual, would bernnothing but the choices men make. Or, as Sartre would put it,rn”man is condemned to freedom” —to a life of criterion-lessrnchoice. Fragments of tradition would survive, and, in momentsrnof weakness, the individual would warm himself at their fire,rnbut being now endowed with a philosophical consciousness, herncould not, in good conscience, long remain.rnAs the 20th century opened, things looked good for the individual.rnAll the major regimes in p]urope were either liberalrnones governing in the name of the individual or were well onrntheir way to becoming such. This was true even of czarist Russia.rnThen World War I tore apart the social fabric of Europe.rnThis was the most important war of the 20th centun,’ and thernleast understood; World War II and the Cold War were merelyrnits fallout. Had the individual read the fine print in the Fau.stianrncontract he had made with the modern state, the new moralitiesrnof autonomy, and antinomic philosophic reason, he might havernseen disaster coming.rnAs late as the 18th century, Europe was composed of hundredsrnof independent political units and social authorities.rnThese were, over time, crushed into larger and larger consolidatedrnmodern states. The individual had approved of this becausernit seemed to open up for him a larger sphere for the en-rnOCTOBER 1999/19rnrnrn