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Philosopher's Voice, The

Philosophy, Politics, and Language in the Nineteenth Century

Andrew Fiala

Publication Year: 2002

This analysis of the relationship between philosophy and politics recognizes that political philosophers must continually struggle to distinguish their voices from others that clamor within political life. Author Andrew Fiala asks whether it is possible to maintain a distinction between philosophical speech and other political and poetic language. His answer is that philosophy’s methodological self-consciousness is what distinguishes its voice from the voice of politics. By focusing on the different ways in which this methodological norm was enacted in the lives and work of Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Marx, the author puts the problem in a larger context and considers the roles that these thinkers played in the political history of the nineteenth century.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY Series in Philosophy (discontinued)

Front Matter

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pp. v

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pp. vii

Many people have contributed to the completion of this project. My thinking about this topic began with my dissertation on Hegel’s Philosophy of Right at Vanderbilt University. I would like to thank my advisors for that project, John Sallis, John Lachs, David Wood, Gregg Horowitz, Idit Dobbs- Weinstein, and Victor Anderson. Further thanks goes to John Lachs who...

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Chapter 1. Introduction: The Philosopher’s Voice

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pp. 1-21

Voice is the origin of philosophy, politics, and poetry. Voice is the medium in which persons commune with one another by communicating their thoughts. It is the conjunction of body, mind, and community. It is the material medium by which we expose ourselves to one another, by which we persuade one another, by which we pursue together the truth, and by which we create and...

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Chapter 2. Voice in Machiavelli, Locke, and Rousseau

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pp. 23-45

Concern with the philosopher’s voice did not originate ex nihilo with the dawning of the nineteenth century. Rather, the issue of voice was already a pressing one for Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and others for whom the question of how to address political life was important. The German philosophers of the early nineteenth century were aware of these historical...

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Chapter 3. The Politics of Pure Reason

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pp. 47-65

The title of this chapter appears to be an oxymoron. Pure reason should be that which transcends the political realm. It would thus seem that there could be no “politics of pure reason.” However, philosophers are political beings. They are human beings who consider the essential questions of being human: knowledge, ethics, hope, and indeed the very definition of human...

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Chapter 4. Kant’s Political Philosophy: Progress and Philosophical Intervention

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pp. 67-88

Kant lived and wrote during a turbulent political epoch. Much of his explicit political philosophizing occurs under the shadow of two important political events: the end of “enlightened despotism” in Prussia with the death of Frederick the Great in 1786 and the symbolic birth of a new liberal era with the French Revolution of 1789. With the ascension of Frederick Wilhelm...

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Chapter 5. Fichte: Philosophy, Politics, and the German Nation

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pp. 89-104

After Kant, philosophy took up the task of unifying theoretical and practical reason into a system. Such a system, to be complete, must account for its own ground in the seemingly extraneous regions of history, language, and politics. Kant’s reflections on these areas remain scattered among his “occasional” essays and can seem to be secondary to the project of the three...

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Chapter 6. Fichte’s Voice: Language and Political Excess

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pp. 105-124

In the Addresses, Fichte synthesizes the projects of moral development, national self-assertion, and the cultivation of the philosophical imagination. This synthesis occurs within a theory of language that grounds Fichte’s attempt to use his own voice to complete this synthetic project. Given the political context in which Fichte delivered his Addresses, it is easy to understand...

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Chapter 7. Hegel: Philosophy and the Spirit of Politics

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pp. 125-151

With Fichte, the voice of philosophy went beyond its proper limit by appropriating political rhetoric, albeit for the philosophical purpose of jump-starting progress toward enlightenment. Fichte could not rest easily with the antinomy of progress that resulted from the Kantian approach to the dichotomy between philosophy and politics. Nor could he abide the distinction...

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Chapter 8. Hegel’s Voice: Language, Education, and Philosophy

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pp. 153-175

We have seen that Hegel addresses a definite audience and that he is self-conscious of the fact that his political philosophy is a politically located form of address. His goal is to use his voice to stimulate his audience to become self-conscious by thinking the universal truth expressed in the particular language of the philosopher’s voice. For complete self-consciousness...

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Chapter 9. Marx: Politics, Ideology, and Critique

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pp. 177-205

We have seen various responses to the tension between philosophy and politics. Despite their differences, however, each of the philosophers we have considered has remained committed to an ideal of progress toward universal cosmopolitan enlightenment guided by the philosopher’s voice. Each was also located within the political establishment, to one degree or another, as...

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Chapter 10. Marx’s Voice: Political Action and Political Language

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pp. 207-229

Marx’s legacy is mixed. If we discount Marx’s economics, if we view his revolutionary political practice as either sadistic or naïve, if we look at his theory of class-politics as hopelessly reductive, we must still confront the fact that Marx opens the question of the historical and social basis of philosophical activity. For Marx, the philosopher’s voice is, like all voices, understood...

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Chapter 11. Philosophy, Politics, and Voice: The Enduring Struggle

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pp. 231-239

How can we clarify the distinction between philosophical speech and the political rhetoric with which it is often confused? As we’ve seen, this distinction is to be found in the regulative idea of self-consciousness of this difference and the explication of this difference in speech. We saw this in Kant but it is even more apparent in Hegel. In the Preface to The Phenomenology...

Appendix: Chronology

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pp. 241-248


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pp. 249-294


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pp. 295-308

General Index

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pp. 309-313

Citation Index

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pp. 315-316

E-ISBN-13: 9780791488072
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791454831
Print-ISBN-10: 0791454835

Page Count: 324
Publication Year: 2002

Series Title: SUNY Series in Philosophy (discontinued)

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Subject Headings

  • Philosophy, Modern -- 19th century.
  • Political science -- History -- 19th century.
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