The Primacy of the Political: A History of Political Thought from the Greeks to the French and…

Kobo ebook | October 22, 2010

byDick Howard

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The conflict between politics and antipolitics has replayed itself throughout Western history and philosophical thought. Plato's quest for absolute certainty led him to denounce political democracy, an anti-political position later challenged by Aristotle. This back-and-forth exchange came to a head at the time of the American and French revolutions. Through this wide-ranging narrative, Dick Howard throws new light on a recurring philosophical dilemma, proving our political problems are not as unique as we think.

Howard begins with democracy in ancient Greece and the rise and fall of republican politics in Rome. In the wake of Rome's collapse, political thought searched for a new medium, and the conflict between politics and antipolitics reemerged through the contrasting theories of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas. During the Renaissance and the Reformation, the emergence of the modern individual again shifted the terrain. Even so, politics vs. antipolitics dominated the period, frustrating even Machiavelli, who sought to reconceptualize the nature of political thought. Hobbes and Locke, theorists of the social contract, then reenacted the conflict, which Rousseau sought (in vain) to overcome. Adam Smith and the growth of modern economic liberalism, the radicalism of the French revolution, and the conservative reaction of Edmund Burke subsequently marked the triumph of antipolitics, and the American Revolution may have offered the potential groundwork for a renewal of politics. Taken together, these historical examples, viewed through the prism of philosophy, reveal the roots of today's political climate and suggest the trajectory of the battles yet to come.

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The conflict between politics and antipolitics has replayed itself throughout Western history and philosophical thought. Plato's quest for absolute certainty led him to denounce political democracy, an anti-political position later challenged by Aristotle. This back-and-forth exchange came to a head at the time of the American and Fren...

Dick Howard is distinguished professor of philosophy at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He is the author of numerous books in French and English, including The Specter of Democracy: What Marx and Marxists Haven't Understood and Why, From Marx to Kant, Defining the Political, and The Birth of American Political Thoug...

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Format:Kobo ebookPublished:October 22, 2010Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231509758

ISBN - 13:9780231509756

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Table of Contents

A Note to the Reader
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Democracy and the Renewal of Political Thought
1. The Rise and Fall of Athenian Democracy
The Origins of Athenian Democracy
The Ideal and the Reality of Athenian Democracy: Pericles' Funeral Oration
Plato's Philosophical Antipolitics
Aristotle and the Properly Political
Philosophy Goes Private

2. The Rise and Fall of Roman Republicanism
Livy and the Origin of the Republican Spirit
Polybius and the Structure of Republican Institutions
Cicero and the Moral Theory of Republican Politics
The Empire Turns Inward: The Emergence of Pauline Christianity

3. The Conflict of the Sacred and the Secular
The Two Cities in Theory and Practice
The Conflict of the Two Cities Becomes a Reality
Natural Law and the Dynamic Integration of the Two Cities
Piety, Theology, and the Birth of Modern Man

4. Facing the Challenge of Modernity
Luther's Soteriological Politics: Spiritual Democracy or Political Servitude
Calvin's Political Ecclesiology: Conservative Republicanism
Machiavelli's Political Realism: The Illusions of the Republican Prince

5. Modern Individualism and Political Obligation
Hobbes's Liberal Absolutism
Locke's Constitutional Liberalism
Rousseau's Defensive Republicanism

6. The End of Political Philosophy?
A Political Economy?
The French Revolution and the Ambiguities of a Democratic Republic
The Legitimacy of Conservatism?
The United States as a Republican Democracy

Conclusion: Elements for a Democratic Renewal
Notes
Glossary
Index

Editorial Reviews

I would recommend his book for the serious reader of history who wants to have a comprehensive picture of political thought.