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Opposing Political Philosophy and Literature

Strauss's Critique of Heidegger and the Fate of the 'Quarrel between Philosophy and Poetry'

Paul O'mahoney

Strauss's critique of Heidegger's philosophy aims at a recovery of political philosophy, which he saw as threatened by Heidegger's radical historicism; for Strauss, philosophy as a whole could not survive without political philosophy, and his return to the classical tradition of political philosophy, while inspired by the work of Heidegger, was directed against what he saw as the nihilism that was its consequence. Here I wish to examine a dimension of Strauss's critique which, though hinted at, remains neglected or unexplored by Strauss: that is, how the critique of Heideggarian historicism should naturally link with Strauss's frequent attention to the issue of the ancient 'quarrel between philosophy and poetry'. It has often been observed by other commentators that through Heidegger's work, philosophy appears liable to be supplanted by contemporary literature, whether poetry or philosophy. As some of Strauss's explicit statements extend his definition of what falls under the category of 'poetry' in the modern age to contemporary novels and poetry, this aspect of Heidegger should have commanded more of his attention. Endurance of the quarrel between philosophy and poetry becomes through the prism of Strauss's work the confrontation of political philosophy with literature, particularly the novel form. It was not so much the rise of modern, non-teleological natural science that threatened the endurance and dignity of philosophy, then, but the rise of modern literature; the critique of historicism, when viewed in the light of the enduring 'quarrel', should lead one to a consideration of a crucial issue which remained oddly neglected, or was only hinted at, by Strauss.

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R. Bruce Douglass

John Rawls is widely thought to have revitalised political philosophy. This paper discusses that claim critically in the light of Rawls' own characterisation of his project as well as a series of objections that have been raised by critics from diverse points of view. It concludes that the criticisms advanced by the authors in question help to clarify what exactly Rawls accomplished. He did revitalise liberal political philosophy, but in a manner that lacks much of the traditional substance of political philosophy. The paper concludes by discussing the significance of this finding and its implications for the future of political philosophy.

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Polycarp Ikuenobe

This article examines Nnamdi Azikiwe’s idea of mental emancipation as the intellectual foundation for his political philosophy. Mental emancipation involves re-educating Africans to adopt scientific, critical, analytic, and logical modes of thinking. Azikiwe argues that development must involve changing Africans’ intellectual attitudes and educational system. He argues that Western education, through perpetuating negative stereotypes and engendering ‘colonial mentality’, has neither fostered critical and scientific thinking, nor enabled Africans to apply their knowledge for development. Mental emancipation would enable Africans to develop self-confidence, and the critical examination of superstitious beliefs that have hindered Africa’s development. I show that Azikiwe’s ideas have been recaptured by African philosophers like Bodunrin and Wiredu, regarding their critique of aspects of African tradition and prescription for how African philosophy can contribute to development.

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Roland Axtmann

The notion of cultural plurality and the idea of intercultural dialogue have been central to the discussion of cosmopolitanism in both political philosophy and social theory. This point is developed in an exposition of the arguments put forward by Immanuel Kant and Hannah Arendt and through a critical engagement with Ulrich Beck's social theory of cosmopolitanism as a “social reality.“ It is argued that Beck's analysis fails to convince as a sociological extension of a long philosophical tradition and that instead of Beck's macrostructural analysis it is more promising to formulate an actor-centred sociological theory on the transnationalization of social spaces and the formation of a “cosmopolitan“ consciousness or awareness of transnational actors.

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Jakob Norberg

Hannah Arendt and Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich produced influential accounts of the postwar West-German population's silence or inarticuleteness. The Mitscherlichs claimed that this silence was symptomatic of a blocked process of mourning; Arendt saw it as a legacy of brutal totalitarian rule. However, both viewed the rapid economic recovery as evidence of the German inability to engage in discursively mediated therapeutic and political processes. Frantic busyness was a form of silence. This paper presents a critical reassessment of these approaches. By drawing on Albert Hirschman's theory of exit and voice, it argues that economic activity possesses a communicative dimension. The alleged retreat from politics is not a symptom of muteness but rather indicates people's preference for an alternative mode of communication. Arendt and the Mitscherlich may be right in assuming a correlation between the postwar economic recovery and ostensible political apathy, but lack the conceptual means to clarify the relationship.

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Anthony Chinaemerem Ajah, S. J. Cooper-Knock, Josette Daemen, Douglas L. Berger, and Hayden Weaver

Uchenna Okeja, Deliberative Agency: A Study in Modern African Political Philosophy. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2022, 214 pp. Okeja's new book is necessarily disruptive. This is besides being ambitious, awakening

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Dannica Fleuß and Gary S. Schaal

surprising that there is no consensus about the meaning of “democratic theory”: Neither its scope (“democracy”), nor the characteristic features of theories about democracy – especially in contrast to political philosophy and political theory but also in

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Imagining Utopia in an Unfree World

Rick Turner on Morality, Inequality and Existentialism

Mary Ryan

Years before South African philosopher Richard (Rick) Turner’s most famous work, his novel The Eye of the Needle (hereafter Eye ), he wrote an important account for sociopolitical thought in the essay ‘What Is Political Philosophy

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Christopher J. Allsobrook

here that, although the inclusion of Michel Foucault’s understanding of power in this theory of real modern freedom is to be commended, this advance proves inconsistent with the theory of needs advanced in his earlier work on The Political Philosophy

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Revisiting the Menkiti-Gyekye Debate

Who Is a Radical Communitarian?

Motsamai Molefe

a description of Menkiti as a radical communitarian. I revisit this Menkiti-Gyekye debate because in the last twenty-five years or so, it has dominated discussions in African political philosophy. But the tendency in the literature has been largely