John Murray Cuddihy - The ordeal of civility


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John Murray Cuddihy - The ordeal of civility
Freud, Marx, Levi-Strauss, and the jewish struggle with modernity



John Murray Cuddihy (January 22, 1922 - April 18, 2011) was an American sociologist. He was a member of the doctoral faculty at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York (GSUC).

He is the author of No Offense : Civil Religion and Protestant Taste and The Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Marx, Lévi-Strauss and the Jewish Struggle with Modernity, two books in the sociology of religion. Cuddihy has been described as a "Catholic atheist,", and "a brilliant yet eccentric critic of contemporary American Jewry".

His doctoral dissertation was later published as The Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Marx, Levi-Strauss and the Jewish Struggle with Modernity. No Offense: Civil Religion and Protestant Taste was published in 1978.
In The Ordeal of Civility, Cuddihy explicates the wrenching process of adjusting to modernity experienced by the shtetl Jews of the Pale in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who had to adapt quickly from a tribal culture to a modern Protestant civil culture rather than slowly adjusting over the centuries. It is in this context that he locates the efforts of Jewish intellecuals, such as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and Claude Lévi-Strauss to facilitate the transition by providing a cohesive narrative that attempts to universalize the experience and thus provide an apologia to both the ingroup of Jews and the outgroup of gentiles.
In No Offense, a critique of American civil religion, Cuddihy argues that Catholic and Jewish intellectuals in America gave up the distinctive religious claims of Catholicism and Judaism, respectively, in the interests of not offending the Protestant majority. Cuddihy views various intellectual critiques of modernity - both conservative and radical - as the product of resentment against the more successful, enlightened, Protestant majority.

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