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Publisher's Summary

What are the origins of the idea of human rights and universal human dignity? How can we most fully understand and realize these rights going into the future? Internationally renowned sociologist and social theorist Hans Joas tells a story that differs from conventional narratives by tracing the concept of human rights back to the Judeo-Christian tradition or, alternately, to the secular French Enlightenment. Joas sets out a new path, proposing an affirmative genealogy in which human rights are the result of a process of "sacralization" of every human being.

According to Joas, every single human being has increasingly been viewed as sacred. He discusses the abolition of torture and slavery, once common practice in the pre-18th century West, as two milestones in modern human history. Joas demonstrates that the history of human rights cannot adequately be described as a history of ideas or as legal history but as a complex transformation in which diverse cultural traditions had to be articulated, legally codified, and assimilated into practices of everyday life. The sacralization of the person and universal human rights will be secure in the future, warns Joas, only through continued support by institutions and society, vigorous discourse in their defense, and their incarnation in everyday life and practice.

The book is published by Georgetown University Press.

©2013 Georgetown University Press (P)2017 Redwood Audiobooks

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