Is Christianity the foundation of our Liberal Individualism? In this wide-ranging and ambitious work, Larry Siedentop attempts to answer this particular question.
Siedentop’s central thesis is that Christianity was the foundation upon which liberalism was built. Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism is a historical narrative spanning from Antiquity to the Medieval Period, 2000 years of history. Siedentop tells a remarkable story. Beginning with an overview of the Greek and the Roman world, where society was built around a patriarchal family, he goes on to examine the controversial Medieval period, generally considered as a period of cultural decline and stagnation. And yet, argues Siedentop, it was during the Medieval period that the ideas and beliefs of equality, individualism, egalitarianism, self-realization and free will, ideas that are identified as distinctively liberal, were developed and provided the space for secular liberalism to rice.