13. As James Nichols points out, however, in his comment
on Holmes's piece, Holmes may greatly exaggerate the danger by
misreading Strauss to be a crude instrumentalist engaging in "'the
imprudent importation of doctrines there [ancient Greece] espoused into
the context of a highly differentiated society,'" (1979, 130) despite Strauss's firm assertion that "We cannot reasonably expect that a fresh
understanding of classical political philosophy will supply us with
recipes for today's use" ( Strauss, City and Man, quoted by
Nichols, 1979, 129). See also Strauss's review of John Wild where he
comments: "[T]he teaching of the classics can have no immediate
practical effect, because present day society is not a polis" (quoted in Tarcov 1991, 3). 14. Richter ( 1990, 49) apologizes for using the label
"Cambridge School' since the phrase may not describe 'a group as
cohesive as that name implies." I make no such apologies. 15.
More recent books by Neal Wood on Locke ( 1984) and Cicero ( 1988) reiterate the importance of embedding "a classic text...in
the appropriate social, political and economic context" (1984, 2).
According to Wood, since most classic texts in political theory are
"histories from above" and thus written by a member or client of the
ruling classes the work must be read in the context of history from
below. From this perspective, Wood criticizes the exponents of the Cambridge School for recognizing only ideas and paradigms as history
rather than seeing in history the major social and economic forces of the
past. For Wood, those of the Cambridge School fit well into the
philosophic rather than the historical camp and by implication are of
less interest to those concerned with politics (1984, 10-12).
16. Of quite a different order, perhaps standing all on its
own, is the monumental work of Richard Ashcraft ( 1986) on John
Locke. Ashcraft sets Locke Two Treatises firmly into the intellectual
context of the seventeenth century, but is particularly interested in
placing Locke in the political world of the dissidents of Restoration
England. As such, the volume goes beyond recovering "the
subjectively intended meaning of Locke action in writing the Two
Treatises of Government" ( 1986, 12) to the study of political
movements. The Cambridge School's methodology can only contribute
partially to this endeavor (1986, 12 note 12) which takes Ashcraft more
deeply into historical intrigues than a study of seventeenth century
discourse would. 18. Skinner comments in note 2 that his theories apply to
any practice of the history of ideas. He just happens to use examples
from political thought because that "reflects my own specialization"
(1988, 291 note 2). But it could just as easily have been the the study
of esthetics or of ethics. For a consideration of the expansion of Skinner's views in precisely that direction see the series of essays in Rorty et al. ( 1984). 19.
The most recent list of texts in the Cambridge series
includes Aristotle, Bentham, Constant, Hooker, Leibniz, Locke, Machiavelli, J.S. Mill, Montesquieu, More, and Paine, hardly authors
of 'lesser known works." The Liberty Fund has reprinted important
(but perhaps lesser known) classics such as Mandeville Fable of the
Bees, Algernon Sidney Discourses, Lord Acton's Essays, Hume's
Essays, and much more.
A Collection of Koselleck essays, Futures Past, has
been put out in translation by MIT Press ( 1985).
In a very different endeavor Harvey Mansfield new
book ( 1989) on the executive claims to resemble a "conceptual history,'
but a conceptual history that emphatically learns from texts, especially Machiavelli, not for clarification of the use of a term, but to raise
serious questions about the nature of current practice.
22. Richter original article in Political Theory in 1986
drew forth two rejoinders from Jeremy Rayner ( 1988, 1990) with an
intervening response from Richter ( 1989) in which the two debated the
compatibility proposed by Richter in terms of the implications of the
philosophy of language and semantic analysis for the respective schools. 23. O'Brien ( 1981) is an example from this earlier period of
a far more thoughtful work critical of "male-stream political thought"
for its denigration of the importance of reproductive labor within any
political community. 24.
We can note that Sabine ( 1937, chap. 32), for example,
writes of the Autobiography, of the essays on Bentham and
of the Logic, of Utilitarianism, On Liberty, On Representative
Government, but makes no mention of On the Subjection of Women.
The chapter on Mill by Henry M. Magid ( 1987, 784-801) in the Strauss
and Cropsey volume does not mention the essay at all, neither in the
text nor in the appended list of recommended readings. Nor does it
surface in Wolin's book. It took almost 60 years after Carrie Chapman
Catt put out an edition of the work in 1911 (New York: Frederick A.
Stokes Company) for the work to be republished by Alice Rossi and
MIT Press. Now there are a multitude of collections in which this
Though sex the paper by Salkever and Nylan presented
at the 1991 APSA meetings for a start in this direction.
My own work on the Euthyphro ( 1990) and the Symposium ( 1984b) gets its inspiration from Strauss's insistence that all
Platonic dialogues are about politics, not just the Republic, Statesman,
This is not even to begin to catalogue such articles that
now regularly fill Political Theory, Interpretation, Journal of Politics, Review of Politics, Polity, and other such journals where we find
numerous articles in political theory.
Although I have not discussed American political
thought in this essay, in the context of the present point I should note Catherine Zuckert book with the wonderful double entendre title Natural Right and the American Imagination: Political Theory in Novel
Form ( 1990a) in which the classics of American literature are explored
for insights into the political philosophy of the American regime.
29. Sea also the volume edited by Alan Udoff ( 1991).
Though this volume is subtitled "A Critical Engagement," Udoff's
concluding comment in his introductory remarks, "It is a blessing that Leo Strauss lived and wren" (22), suggests that it isn't quite that.
Almond, Gabriel. 1988. "Separate Tables: Schools and Sects in
Political Science," PS: Political Science and Politics 21:828-
Ashcraft, Richard. 1986. Revolutionary Politics and Locke's "Two
Treatises of Government." Princeton: Princeton University
Ball, Terence. 1988. Transforming Political Discourse and Critical
Conceptual History. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Barber, Benjamin R. 1984. Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics
for a New Age. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Benhabib, Seyla. 1988. "Judgment and the Moral Foundations of
Politics in Arendt's Thought." Political Theory 16:29-52.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Political Science:The State of the Discipline II.
Contributors: Ada W. Finifter - Author.
Publisher: American Political Science Association.
Place of publication: Washington, DC.
Publication year: 1993.
Page number: 23.
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