For now, most French intellectuals are offering their rote prayers to the French way of things, saying that the shock of the Paris attacks means that French values must be deepened. But after so much investment — financial, political, and spiritual — in these universal values and the European project, what will happen if Islam reveals them to be as parochial and historically contingent as the singing of La Marseillaise? What steps into the void when the gentle gods of French universalism die as an irrelevance?
— Michael Brendan Dougherty. This is a powerful and necessary question. The whole point of “Enlightenment values” — the sole reason for preferring them to others — is that they are supposed to be universal rather than merely local, and permanent rather than “historically contingent.” There is no place in the narrative of the French Enlightenment for going back, for finding the supposedly universal and permanent inadequate to human needs.