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Philosophy > Political Philosophy

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Education For Life Cover

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Education For Life

Correspondence and Writings on Religion and Practical Philosophy

George Turnbull

George Turnbull belongs with a group of early Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, including Francis Hutcheson, who found their native Calvinism too repressive. They sought to relocate religion within a context of reason and science and to establish a tolerant and humane ethic upon values rooted in classical ideals.

In a distinctive voice, Turnbull presented natural-law theory “scientifically,” harnessed the arts to promote moral and civil virtue, and extolled reason as the foundation of liberty. The works in this volume exhibit the close interrelations between these concerns and show him as a paradigmatic “Enlightenment” figure. This extremely rare material includes two Aberdeen graduation theses, three tracts on religion, various writings on education and art, and, for the first time in print, the correspondence of Turnbull.

George Turnbull (1698–1748) was born in Scotland and ordained into the Church of England in 1739. A key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, he taught moral philosophy at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where one of his pupils was Thomas Reid, who became the main representative of the Scottish Common Sense philosophy.

M. A. Stewart is Honorary Research Professor in the History of Philosophy at the Universities of Lancaster and Aberdeen.

Paul Wood is Professor of History at the University of Victoria.

Empathy and Democracy Cover

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Empathy and Democracy

Feeling, Thinking, and Deliberation

Michael E. Morrell

Enjoying What We Don't Have Cover

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Enjoying What We Don't Have

The Political Project of Psychoanalysis

Todd McGowan

Although there have been many attempts to apply the ideas of psychoanalysis to political thought, this book is the first to identify the political project inherent in the fundamental tenets of psychoanalysis. And this political project, Todd McGowan contends, provides an avenue for emancipatory politics after the failure of Marxism in the twentieth century.

Where others seeking the political import of psychoanalysis have looked to Freud’s early work on sexuality, McGowan focuses on Freud’s discovery of the death drive and Jacques Lacan’s elaboration of this concept. He argues that the self-destruction occurring as a result of the death drive is the foundational act of emancipation around which we should construct our political philosophy. Psychoanalysis offers the possibility for thinking about emancipation not as an act of overcoming loss but as the embrace of loss. It is only through the embrace of loss, McGowan suggests, that we find the path to enjoyment, and enjoyment is the determinative factor in all political struggles—and only in a political project that embraces the centrality of loss will we find a viable alternative to global capitalism.

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Enlightenment against Empire

Sankar Muthu

In the late eighteenth century, an array of European political thinkers attacked the very foundations of imperialism, arguing passionately that empire-building was not only unworkable, costly, and dangerous, but manifestly unjust. Enlightenment against Empire is the first book devoted to the anti-imperialist political philosophies of an age often regarded as affirming imperial ambitions. Sankar Muthu argues that thinkers such as Denis Diderot, Immanuel Kant, and Johann Gottfried Herder developed an understanding of humans as inherently cultural agents and therefore necessarily diverse. These thinkers rejected the conception of a culture-free "natural man." They held that moral judgments of superiority or inferiority could be made neither about entire peoples nor about many distinctive cultural institutions and practices.

Muthu shows how such arguments enabled the era's anti-imperialists to defend the freedom of non-European peoples to order their own societies. In contrast to those who praise "the Enlightenment" as the triumph of a universal morality and critics who view it as an imperializing ideology that denigrated cultural pluralism, Muthu argues instead that eighteenth-century political thought included multiple Enlightenments. He reveals a distinctive and underappreciated strand of Enlightenment thinking that interweaves commitments to universal moral principles and incommensurable ways of life, and that links the concept of a shared human nature with the idea that humans are fundamentally diverse. Such an intellectual temperament, Muthu contends, can broaden our own perspectives about international justice and the relationship between human unity and diversity.

The Era of the Individual: A Contribution to a History of Subjectivity Cover

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The Era of the Individual: A Contribution to a History of Subjectivity

M. B. DeBevoise

With the publication of French Philosophy of the Sixties, Alain Renaut and Luc Ferry in 1985 launched their famous critique against canonical figures such as Foucault, Derrida, and Lacan, bringing under rigorous scrutiny the entire post-structuralist project that had dominated Western intellectual life for over two decades. Their goal was to defend the accomplishments of liberal democracy, particularly in terms of basic human rights, and to trace the reigning philosophers' distrust of liberalism to an "antihumanism" inherited mainly from Heidegger. In The Era of the Individual, widely hailed as Renaut's magnum opus, the author explores the most salient feature of post-structuralism: the elimination of the human subject. At the root of this thinking lies the belief that humans cannot know or control their basic natures, a premise that led to Heidegger's distrust of an individualistic, capitalist modern society and that allied him briefly with Hitler's National Socialist Party. While acknowledging some of Heidegger's misgivings toward modernity as legitimate, Renaut argues that it is nevertheless wrong to equate modernity with the triumph of individualism. Here he distinguishes between individualism and subjectivity and, by offering a history of the two, powerfully redirects the course of current thinking away from potentially dangerous, reductionist views of humanity.

Renaut argues that modern philosophy contains within itself two opposed ways of conceiving the human person. The first, which has its roots in Descartes and Kant, views human beings as subjects capable of arriving at universal moral judgments. The second, stemming from Leibniz, Hegel, and Nietzsche, presents human beings as independent individuals sharing nothing with others. In a careful recounting of this philosophical tradition, Renaut shows the resonances of these traditions in more recent philosophers such as Heidegger and in the social anthropology of Louis Dumont.

Renaut's distinction between individualism and subjectivity has become an important issue for young thinkers dissatisfied with the intellectual tradition originating in Nietzsche and Heidegger. Moreover, his proclivity toward the Kantian tradition, combined with his insights into the shortcomings of modernity, will interest anyone concerned about today's shifting cultural attitudes toward liberalism.

Originally published in 1999.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Eric Voegelin and the Continental Tradition

Explorations in Modern Political Thought

Edited by Lee Trepanier & Steven F. McGuire

 

Twentieth-century political philosopher Eric Voegelin is best known as a severe critic of modernity. Much of his work argues that modernity is a Gnostic revolt against the fundamental structure of reality. For Voegelin, “Gnosticism” is the belief that human beings can transform the nature of reality through secret knowledge and social action, and he considered it the crux of the crisis of modernity. As Voegelin struggled with this crisis throughout his career, he never wavered in his judgment that philosophers of the modern continental tradition were complicit in the Gnostic revolt of modernity.
            But while Voegelin’s analysis of those philosophers is at times scathing, his work also bears marks of their influence, and Voegelin has much more in common with the theorists of the modern continental tradition than is usually recognized. Eric Voegelin and the Continental Tradition: Explorations in Modern Political Thought evaluates this political philosopher—one of the most original and influential thinkers of our time—by examining his relationship to the modern continental tradition in philosophy, from Kant to Derrida.
            In a compelling introduction, editors Lee Trepanier and Steven F. McGuire present a review of the trajectories of Voegelin’s thought and outline what often is portrayed as his derisive critique of modernity. Soon, however, they begin to unravel the similarities between Voegelin’s thought and the work of other thinkers in the continental tradition. The subsequent chapters explore these possible connections by examining Voegelin’s intellectual relationship to individual thinkers, including Hegel, Schelling, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Gadamer.
            The essays in this volume go beyond Voegelin’s own reading of the modern philosophers to offer a reevaluation of his relationship to those thinkers. In Eric Voegelin and the Continental Tradition, Voegelin’s attempt to grapple with the crisis of modernity becomes clearer, and his contribution to the modern continental tradition is illuminated. The book features the work of both established and emerging Voegelin scholars, and the essays were chosen to present thoughtful and balanced assessments of both Voegelin’s thought and the ideas of the other thinkers considered. As the first volume to examine the relationship—and surprising commonalities—between Voegelin’s philosophy and the continental tradition as a whole, this text will be of interest not only to Voegelin disciples but to philosophers engaged by continental modernism and all disciplines of political philosophy.

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Eros in Plato, Rousseau, and Nietzsche

The Politics of Infinity

Laurence D. Cooper

Human beings are restless souls, ever driven by an insistent inner force not only to have more but to be more—to be infinitely more. Various philosophers have emphasized this type of ceaseless striving in their accounts of humanity, as in Spinoza’s notion of conatus and Hobbes’s identification of “a perpetual and restless desire of power after power.” In this book, Laurence Cooper focuses his attention on three giants of the philosophic tradition for whom this inner force was a major preoccupation and something separate from and greater than the desire for self-preservation. Cooper’s overarching purpose is to illuminate the nature of this source of existential longing and discontent and its implications for political life. He concentrates especially on what these thinkers share in their understanding of this psychic power and how they view it ambivalently as the root not only of ambition, vigorous virtue, patriotism, and philosophy, but also of tyranny, imperialism, and varieties of fanaticism. But he is not neglectful of the differences among their interpretations of the phenomenon, either, and especially highlights these in the concluding chapter.

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Ethics, Nationalism, and Just War

Medieval and Contemporary Perspectives

Henrik Syse

The book covers a wide range of topics and raises issues rarely touched on in the ethics-of-war literature, such as environmental concerns and the responsibility of bystanders.

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The Ethics of Care

A Feminist Approach to Human Security

Fiona Robinson

In The Ethics of Care, Fiona Robinson demonstrates how the responsibilities of sustaining life are central to the struggle for basic human security. She takes a unique approach, using a feminist lens to challenge gender biases in rights-based, individualist approaches.Robinson's thorough and impassioned consideration of care in both ethical and practical terms provides a starting point for understanding and addressing the material, emotional and psychological conditions that create insecurity for people. The Ethics of Careexamines “care ethics” and “security” at the theoretical level and explores the practical implications of care relations for security in a variety of contexts: women's labor in the global economy, humanitarian intervention and peace building, healthcare, and childcare.

Theoretically-innovative and policy-relevant, this critical analysis demonstrates the need to understand the obstacles and inequalities that obstruct the equitable and adequate delivery of care around the world.

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The Ethics of Voting

Jason Brennan

Nothing is more integral to democracy than voting. Most people believe that every citizen has the civic duty or moral obligation to vote, that any sincere vote is morally acceptable, and that buying, selling, or trading votes is inherently wrong. In this provocative book, Jason Brennan challenges our fundamental assumptions about voting, revealing why it is not a duty for most citizens--in fact, he argues, many people owe it to the rest of us not to vote.

Bad choices at the polls can result in unjust laws, needless wars, and calamitous economic policies. Brennan shows why voters have duties to make informed decisions in the voting booth, to base their decisions on sound evidence for what will create the best possible policies, and to promote the common good rather than their own self-interest. They must vote well--or not vote at all. Brennan explains why voting is not necessarily the best way for citizens to exercise their civic duty, and why some citizens need to stay away from the polls to protect the democratic process from their uninformed, irrational, or immoral votes.

In a democracy, every citizen has the right to vote. This book reveals why sometimes it's best if they don't. In a new afterword, "How to Vote Well," Brennan provides a practical guidebook for making well-informed, well-reasoned choices at the polls.

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