By Glen Newey
Why do political philosophers turn away from politics? Glen Newey bargains a difficult and unique critique of liberalism, the dominant political philosophy of our time, tackling such key concerns as nation legitimacy, value-pluralism, neutrality, the character of politics, public cause, and morality in politics. examining significant liberal theorists, Newey argues that liberalism bypasses politics since it ignores or misunderstands human motivation, and elevates educational systembuilding over political realities of clash and gear.
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Additional info for After Politics: The Rejection of Politics in Contemporary Liberal Philosophy
But equally, when politics goes badly, we can know a good which we cannot know alone. That may, moreover, be the best that can be hoped for. 34 In one way my argument suggests that the ambitions of philosophy in its approach to politics should be curbed. But in another, that the problems in the discipline which I have examined require not less, but more (or at least better) philosophy. I certainly believe that the arguments given above should give pause for thought to those who think that philosophy can pre-empt, or replace, political engagement.
I suspect – though without claiming to have established as much – that there are sharper limits on the scope for fruitful general theorising about politics than many of those who currently take themselves to be purveying ‘political theory’ suppose. But the positive programme outlined above requires a greater amount of philosophical reflectiveness, and in more ways than one. In one respect this demands more of what is known, in the currently fashionable misnomer, as ‘meta-philosophy’: that is, reflections, of the kind presented above, on what political philosophers are doing.
Contextualists are wont to claim that the historical specificity of the texts’ production makes them inapplicable to the very different political circumstances of modernity; but, in reaffirming that these texts are applicable to modern political conditions, contemporary political philosophers do not implicitly claim that these conditions are, after all, relevantly similar to those of ancient Athens, or seventeenthcentury England. What underlies this sharp difference between historians of political thought and contemporary political philosophers is unlikely to be disagreement about the similarity between the circumstances of modern politics and those in which the classic texts were produced.
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