Be Not Afraid
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By Emmanuel Mounier
Romano Guardini, in the wake of World War II, wrote: “The signs of the times have indicated…with all the spontaneity of a genuine symptom, that the human personality is in danger.” Diagnosing and treating the cause of this symptom was, for Emmanuel Mounier, a mission of the utmost urgency. His philosophy of personalism represented “a total effort to comprehend and outgrow the whole crisis of the twentieth-century man.” Be Not Afraid is a précis of Mounier’s thought: his critiques of materialism and scientism; his Péguy-inspired dialectic of revolution; his distrust of the structures of liberalism and dismay at the uninhibited sprawl of capitalism; and the conflict between his sympathies toward Marxism and his acceptance of the Christian gospel that “in hope we are saved.”
An impassioned appraisal of past and present, Be Not Afraid: A Denunciation of Despair sheds fulsome, at times uncomfortable, light on the life of the Western mind at the midpoint of the twentieth century.
One should add, in order to describe the whole Christian attitude, that the full series of summits is hidden from us in the unfathomable dark of history. We only know that the movement is forward, and we can sometimes see it in the main. But we cannot foretell its ways, its halts and detours. (Emmanuel Mounier)
Emmanuel Mounier (1905–1950) was a French philosopher and prominent proponent of personalism, who founded and directed the journal Esprit and wrote extensively on politics and religion, society and economics, and culture and history. His works in English include: Personalism, Existentialist Philosophies, and The Character of Man.