ABSTRACT

In 1956 while in communist Poland Kolakowski suggested that, political divisions apart, the mission that Jesus ascribed to himself had become ‘part of the intricate woven tapestry which makes up our cultural heritage’. The inhabitants of modern Europe are as capable of recognizing them as they ever were, and they don’t need to be ‘secularized’ into something else to make them more recognizable. Peter Berger had a more global vision than Kolakowski and so was less interested in ‘precepts that are part of our cultural heritage’ than in something of more general import, which he called prototypical human gestures. Ludwig Wittgenstein was another Austrian who ended up in the English-speaking world. After the rigorism of his early work he left behind a mass of reflections collected in books but consisting mostly of numbered paragraphs and aphorisms.