The Theology of Consumerism

Sean J. McGrath

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Attitudes towards daily life, towards governance and trade, work and love, are always grounded in layers of historically conditioned, ethical, metaphysical, and theological assumption. It might be the hallmark of the modern to routinely forget how much of what we regard as freely expressive of our unique perspective on things is indebted to the past. The nearest layer to the surface may be consciously appropriated or rejected, but as we descend, the degree of availability of what R.G. Collingwood called “absolute presuppositions” to ethical and philosophical reflection decreases.1 Our beliefs are never entirely available for rationalization, but owe more to history than we are generally inclined to acknowledge.

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