Wolfe mines the bedrock of the liberal tradition, explaining how Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, John Dewey, and other celebrated minds helped shape liberalism's central philosophy. Wolfe also examines those who have challenged liberalism since its inception, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to modern conservatives, religious fundamentalists, and evolutionary theorists such as Richard Dawkins. Drawing on both the inspiration and insights of seminal works such as John Locke's Second Treatise on Government, Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, Kant's essay ""What is Enlightenment?,"" and Mill's On Liberty and The Subjection of Women, Wolfe ambitiously sets out to define what it truly means to be a liberal. He analyzes and applauds liberalism's capacious conception of human nature, belief that people outweigh ideology, passion for social justice, faith in reason and intellectual openness, and respect for individualism. And we see how the liberal tradition can influence and illuminate contemporary debates on immigration, abortion, executive power, religious freedom, and free speech. But Wolfe also makes it clear that before liberalism can be successfully applied to today's problems, it needs to be recovered, understood, and embraced--not just by Americans but by all modern people--as the most beneficial way to live in our complex modern world.--From publisher description.