With the World at HeartStudies in the Secular Today

With the World at HeartStudies in the Secular Today

Thomas A. Carlson

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780226617367

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book explores the roles played by love in opening and sustaining the temporal worlds we inhabit and builds on previous studies of mystical theology, mortal experience, and human creativity in Indiscretion (1999) and The Indiscrete Image (2008). Revising Augustine's insight that when we love a place, we dwell there in the heart, the book also resists influential lines of Christian thought that seek to transcend loss and its grief by loving all things within the eternal. The fragility and sorrow of mortal existence, the book argues, do not contradict but condition both love and its joy, even as they empower love to create a world. Through this understanding of love, the book advances a new way of thinking about the secular today: not as the rational self-assertion of humanity within effectively idolatrous closed-world-systems, but as the affirmative orientation of human affection with respect to the time of our passing days. The book opens with a reading of Cormac McCarthy's The Road; turns to the inheritance and revision of Augustinian thinking about love within the philosophical tradition of Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Marion, and Jean-Luc Nancy; and closes by calling forth an essential but overlooked background of this tradition: that of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Friedrich Nietzsche, for both of whom the heart of education is our awakening to the day through an education of the heart.