Politics Without Vision: Thinking Without A Banister In The Twentieth Century

Paperback | July 30, 2013

byTracy B. Strong

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From Plato through the nineteenth century, the West could draw on comprehensive political visions to guide government and society. Now, for the first time in more than two thousand years, Tracy B. Strong contends, we have lost our foundational supports. In the words of Hannah Arendt, the state of political thought in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has left us effectively “thinking without a banister.”

Politics without Vision takes up the thought of seven influential thinkers, each of whom attempted to construct a political solution to this problem: Nietzsche, Weber, Freud, Lenin, Schmitt, Heidegger, and Arendt. None of these theorists were liberals nor, excepting possibly Arendt, were they democrats—and some might even be said to have served as handmaidens to totalitarianism. And all to a greater or lesser extent shared the common conviction that the institutions and practices of liberalism are inadequate to the demands and stresses of the present times. In examining their thought, Strong acknowledges the political evil that some of their ideas served to foster but argues that these were not necessarily the only paths their explorations could have taken. By uncovering the turning points in their thought—and the paths not taken—Strong strives to develop a political theory that can avoid, and perhaps help explain, the mistakes of the past while furthering the democratic impulse.
 
Confronting the widespread belief that political thought is on the decline, Strong puts forth a brilliant and provocative counterargument that in fact it has endured—without the benefit of outside support.  A compelling rendering of contemporary political theory, Politics without Vision is sure to provoke discussion among scholars in many fields.

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From Plato through the nineteenth century, the West could draw on comprehensive political visions to guide government and society. Now, for the first time in more than two thousand years, Tracy B. Strong contends, we have lost our foundational supports. In the words of Hannah Arendt, the state of political thought in the twentieth ...

Tracy B. Strong is distinguished professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. He is a former editor of Political Theory and the author or editor of many books, including Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of Transfiguration, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Politics of the Ordinary, and Th...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:424 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:July 30, 2013Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022610429X

ISBN - 13:9780226104294

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Table of Contents

PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

NOTE ON SOURCES AND ABBREVIATIONS

INTRODUCTION
The World as We Find It

ONE
Kant and the Death of God

TWO
Nietzsche: The Tragic Ethos and the Spirit of Music

THREE
Max Weber, Magic, and the Politics of Social Scientific Objectivity

INTERLUDE
“What Have We to Do with Morals?” Nietzsche and Weber on the Politics of Morality

FOUR
Sigmund Freud and the Heroism of Knowledge

FIVE
Lenin and the Calling of the Party

SIX
Carl Schmitt and the Exceptional Sovereign

SEVEN
Martin Heidegger and the Space of the Political

EIGHT
Without a Banister: Hannah Arendt and Roads Not Taken

NINE
Conclusion: The World as It Finds Us

NOTES

INDEX

Editorial Reviews

“A magisterial exploration of solutions to what Tracy Strong sees as one of the key philosophical and political problems of modernity: the unavailability of authoritative foundations for knowledge and action. Politics withoutVision is a frequently surprising treatment of major political thinkers.”