What marks the difference between modern and non-modern political philosophy? Such a question could be understood in two ways. On the one hand, it could be understood as a question concerning formal differences between modern and pre/non-modern modes of philosophising. On the other hand, it could be understood as a question about the changing nature of the object of the philosophical enterprise, namely a question concerning the historical differences between modern and pre-modern (domestic as well as international) politics. Contemporary political philosophy has focused primarily on meeting the first, formal, challenge. By failing to take proper account of the effects that major historical developments—especially the rise of commercial society and global market economy—have had on the character of political life, much of contemporary political theory tend to view its enterprise as essentially an extension to or an application of ethics. What is needed instead is a 'political economy'. Political philosophy must rise to this challenge if it wishes to help us contend with our present predicament. The final part of the article outlines a realist, non-moralistic, political philosophy which takes account of the interplay between human 'sentiments' and 'reason' in a commercial world order.
The Dynamics of Democratization: Elites, Civil Society and the Transition Process, by Graeme Gill. London: Macmillan, 2000. ISBN 0-333-80197
History of Shit, by Dominique Laporte. Translated by Nadia Benabid and Rodolphe el-Khoury. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2000. ISBN 0-2626-2160-6
An Introduction to Philosophy, by Jon Nuttall. Cambridge: Polity, 2002. ISBN 0-7456-1662-3
Roger Deacon, Ben Parker, Herman C. Waetjen, and Lasse Thomassen
Humanity, Terrorism, Terrorist War: Palestine, 9-11, Iraq, 7-7..., by Ted Honderich Roger Deacon
The Struggle for Meaning: Reflections on Philosophy, Culture and Democracy in Africa, by Paulin J. Hountondji Ben Parker
The Rationalists: Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz by Pauline Phemister Herman C. Waetjen
The Divided West by Jürgen Habermas Lasse Thomassen
The Liberal Agenda and the Appeal to 'Real Existing Socialism'
Political philosophers tend to notice their differences more than their similarities. I suggest that contemporary analytic political philosophy in fact exhibits a 'dominant paradigm', the main features of which are a commitment to liberal capitalism and a preference for the designing of 'just institutions.' To subscribe to this paradigm involves making a decision about how to manage the philosophical 'agenda.' In order to focus on certain issues within this paradigm, alternatives, most notably socialism, have to be excluded from prolonged consideration. A popular way of supporting this policy is by reference to the perceived failure of 'real existing socialism.' Taking the late political philosopher Brian Barry, among others, as an example, I argue that this argumentative strategy is unconvincing, and furthermore that its deployment tells a worrying story about the practice of political philosophy.
Like other major developments in political philosophy, John Rawls’s Political Liberalism (PL) has raised important issues for philosophy of education. Rawls’s defence of liberalism as a political doctrine whose principles do not depend on any one comprehensive moral or philosophical doctrine for their justification, against comprehensive liberalism, which by contrast expresses a particular conception of the good life, engages with current controversies in schooling policy in liberal democracies like the United States and the United Kingdom, and potentially in South Africa.2 In such societies there are groups which oppose what is seen as the tendency of liberal education, with its emphasis on the development of qualities like autonomy and individuality, to show intolerance towards particular ethnic, cultural or religious groups and to threaten their continued existence. Their objections appear to require a political rather than a comprehensive liberal approach to schooling.
Fixing Men: Sex, Birth Control, and AIDS in Mexico, Contemporary South Africa, by Matthew Gutmann Marc Epprecht
The Political Philosophy of Needs, by Lawrence Hamilton David James
Foucault, Psychology and the Analytics of Power, by Derek Hook Grahame Hayes
Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory, 2nd edition, by Bhikhu Parekh Joleen Steyn-Kotze
The Plot to Kill God: Findings from the Soviet Experiment in Secularization, by Paul Froese Gerald West
Critical Theory and Social Change in South Africa
Beyond Hegel and Nietzsche: Philosophy, Culture and Agency, by Elliot L. Jurist. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2000.
The Postnational Constellation: Political Essays, by Jürgen Habermas. Translated, edited and with an introduction by Max Pensky. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001.
Pluralism and the Pragmatic Turn: The Transformation of Critical Theory. Essays in Honor of Thomas McCarthy, edited by William Rehg and James Bohman. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2001.
Jason M. Costanzo, Caroline Walsh, Fazel Khan, Douglas Farland, and Roger Deacon
Introduction to German Philosophy: From Kant to Habermas, by Andrew Bowie
Global Justice and Transnational Politics: Essays on the Moral and Political Challenges of Globalization edited by Pablo de Greiff and Ciaran Cronin Caroline Walsh
Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War and the Roots of Terror by Mahmood Mamdani Clash of Fundamentalisms by Tariq Ali Fazel Khan
An Introduction to Contemporary Meta-Ethics by Alexander Miller Douglas Farland
The New Wars by Herfried Münkler Roger Deacon
Freedom, without Power
This article attributes the conception of 'freedom-without-power' which dominates contemporary Western political philosophy to a reification of social agency that mystifies contexts of human capacities and achievements. It suggests that Plato's analogy between the structure of the soul and the polis shows how freedom is a consequence, rather than a condition, of political relations, mediated by inter-subjective contestation. From this basis, the article draws on the work of Raymond Geuss to argue against pre-political ethical frameworks in political philosophy, in favour of a more contextually sensitive, self-critical approach to ethics. Such reciprocal ethical-political integration addresses problems of ideological complicity that may arise if freedom is discretely abstracted from history and power in political philosophy. Finally, the article roughly reconstructs a critical account of African identity from writings of Steven Biko to illuminate symptoms of 'meritocratic apartheid' in South Africa today which Thad Metz's influential pre-political conception of ubuntu obscures, by abstracting the figure of African personhood from politically significant historical conditions.
Andrew Benjamin and Francesco Borghesi
This special issue arose from a workshop on “Peace and Concord from Plato to Lessing”, organised by the editors and which took place at the University of Sydney on 18 and 19 September 2017. Central to the work of both the editors is the relationship between the concepts of ‘concord’, ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’ within a setting created by a concern with the development of a philological anthropology. Their work combines both intellectual history and philosophy, a combination that is reflected in the contents of the special issue of Theoria. The importance of these terms is that they allow for another interpretation of the ethical and the political. Central to both is the location of human being within a larger cultural context. That context demands an approach in which philosophy does not exclude history, and history recognises that it is already informed philosophically. If there is a unifying term, it is ‘culture’. The approach taken within the larger project starts with the centrality of culture as that which demands to be thought. And yet culture is neither tranquil nor unified. As Walter Benjamin argued, there ‘is no document of culture which is not at the same time a document of barbarism’. Allowing for culture’s centrality entails a reconfiguration of both philosophy and intellectual history.