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Kantian Courage:Advancing the Enlightenment in Contemporary Political Theory

Advancing the Enlightenment in Contemporary Political Theory

Nicholas Tampio

Publication Year: 2012

How may progressive political theorists advance the Enlightenment after Darwin shifted the conversation about human nature in the 19th century, the Holocaust displayed barbarity at the historical center of the Enlightenment, and 9/11 showed the need to modify the ideals and strategies of the Enlightenment? Kantian Courage considers how several figures in contemporary political theory--including John Rawls, Gilles Deleuze, and Tariq Ramadan--do just this as they continue Immanuel Kant's legacy.Rather than advocate specific Kantian ideas, the book contends that political progressives should embody Kantian courage--a critical and creative disposition to invent new political theories to address the problems of the age. It illuminates Kant's legacy in contemporary intellectual debates; constructs a dialogue among Anglo-American, Continental, and Islamic political theorists; and shows how progressives may forge alliances across political and religious differences by inventing concepts such as the overlapping consensus, the rhizome, and the spaceof testimony. The book will interest students of the Enlightenment, contemporary political theorists and philosophers, and a general audience concerned about the future of the relationship between Islam and the West.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Series: Just Ideas

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

The Enlightenment was an intellectual and political movement committed to charting a new course for Europe and North America after the religious wars of the seventeenth century. The Enlightenment continues to shape academia and progressive politics by supplying ideas, conceptual toolkits, and an ethos celebrating the construction of timely political theories. ...

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Introduction: Advancing the Enlightenment

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pp. 1-29

On January 27, 2009, US President Barack Obama announced that the War on Terror was over. Appearing on the Al Arabiya news network for his first official interview as president, Obama explained, “The language we use matters.” The language of war on terror perpetuates a Manichaean dualism between good and evil, ...

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1. Kantian Courage

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pp. 30-69

In 1932, shortly before the Nazis exiled him from Germany, Ernst Cassirer defended the Enlightenment against its opponents. “Instead of assuming a derogatory air, we must take courage and measure our powers against those of the age of the Enlightenment.”1 Cassirer’s call for courage resonates today when the Enlightenment is again under attack from several angles. ...

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2. Formulating Problems

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pp. 70-112

Giovanna Borradori opens her book, Philosophy in a Time of Terror, by speculating on philosophy’s relationship to history. According to the classical tradition of Plato and Aristotle, philosophy aims to grasp universal principles whereas history seeks knowledge of singular events. ...

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3. Constructing Theories

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pp. 113-157

In a recent book titled Is Critique Secular?, Talal Asad and Judith Butler debate whether Kant, or the Enlightenment more broadly, may still serve as a resource to critical political theory. Asad argues that Michel Foucault is wrong to valorize Kant, the Enlightenment, secular reason, or the modern West. ...

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4. Engaging Islam

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pp. 158-186

One of the most common—and still-illuminating—observations about Kant’s practical philosophy is that it attempts to secularize Christianity. 1 Kant clearly wanted his philosophy to resonate with the predominantly Christian audience that his work addressed. ...

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Conclusion: The Battle for Autonomy

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pp. 187-196

In Kant and the Limits of Autonomy Susan Meld Shell explains why she—and many other political philosophers and theorists—treat Kant’s legacy so seriously. Kant’s practical philosophy has inspired liberal democrats for over two centuries. The concept of autonomy, in particular, has served as the foundation for (American) progressive political thought ...


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pp. 197-234


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pp. 235-252


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pp. 253-256

Further Reading

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E-ISBN-13: 9780823250608
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823245000
Print-ISBN-10: 0823245004

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: Text
Series Title: Just Ideas
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OCLC Number: 811408253
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Kantian Courage:Advancing the Enlightenment in Contemporary Political Theory

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Subject Headings

  • Political science -- Philosophy
  • Enlightenment.
  • Kant, Immanuel, 1724-1804 -- Political and social views.
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