John Carroll (born 1944) is Professor of Sociology at La Trobe University, and author of Puritan, Paranoid, Remissive, Guilt, Ego and Soul, Humanism: The Rebirth and Wreck of Western Culture, and Intruders In The Bush: The Australian Quest For Identity. His Cambridge doctoral dissertation on epistemological anarchistic and anti-rationalist themes in Max Stirner, Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky was published as Breakout from the Crystal Palace (1974). It was supervised by George Steiner. Puritan, Paranoid, Remissive (1977) echoed and developed upon themes in Phillip Rieff's Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud (1966).
Humanism (1993; 2010) is Carroll's most ambitious work to date. Predicated on the view that Western culture is in a declining mode, Humanism traces this decline to an epistemic tyranny of reason and its subjection of other forms of knowing and understanding being. Carroll's often bleak diagnosis is primarily based on unique readings of canonic theological, philosophical and artistic texts including those by Sophocles, Calvin, Holbein, Donatello, Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Poussin, Henry James and John Ford. The heart of the book's analysis is highly indebted to Nietzsche's critique of "Socratic" culture in the The Birth of Tragedy. Terror: a Meditation on the Meaning of September 11 (2004) is an application of many of the themes in the former work.
Humanism appears, at first glance, to have diagnostic affinities with works inspired by American neoconservatism, for example, Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind.John N. Gray's critique of Enlightenment rationalism is analogous to Carroll's work in some respects also. That said, Carroll's writings illustrate tendencies that do not easily fit with conservatism as it is traditionally defined. In the prescriptive works, The Western Dreaming and The Existential Jesus for example, Carroll rereads Gospel narratives and the ontology of Christ through a Heideggerian and non-theistic lens. His most recent work, Greek Pilgrimage, is an unabashed hellenophilic meditation on the nature of ancient Greek aesthetics and culture and what remains of the archaeological sites themselves.