By Glen Newey
Why do political philosophers turn away from politics? Glen Newey bargains a hard and unique critique of liberalism, the dominant political philosophy of our time, tackling such key matters as nation legitimacy, value-pluralism, neutrality, the character of politics, public cause, and morality in politics. reading significant liberal theorists, Newey argues that liberalism bypasses politics since it ignores or misunderstands human motivation, and elevates educational systembuilding over political realities of clash and tool.
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Additional info for After Politics: The Rejection of Politics in Contemporary Liberal Philosophy
There is a further reason for the popularity of anti-political attitudes both inside and outside the academy, which expresses the defeated hopes of instrumentalist thinking about politics. In one form it is to be found in the thought that politics is too maladapted an instrument to achieve the political objectives they favour. Certainly recent decades have worsted hopes of radical social engineering – at least in the direction of greater equality or social justice, rather than of their opposites.
This is not meant to constitute an ultimate explanation. Maybe these disputes also take their rise from some quite other quarter, such as fundamental conflicts of value, or ideology. These criticisms of the essential contestability thesis are not however intended to defend the possibility of either rational or de facto convergence in political judgements. What is political may itself be an irreducibly political matter. This may explain the unconvincingness of attempts to provide definitions of the political, and in particular a common infirmity of attempted definitions – the tendency of the definiendum to crop up in the would-be definiens.
There are also academic reasons. One is based on fear that the discipline may degenerate into something less respectable – something tainted by empirical considerations, such as political science. So, faced with two possible directions of collapse, political philosophers have stuck to pure analysis, although many distinguished political philosophers in the canon have been engaged one way or another in a form of descriptive enterprise. This is true of, among others, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Harrington, Burke, Herder, Hegel, Marx and Mill.