Four Seminal Thinkers in International Theory: Machiavelli, Grotius, Kant, and Mazzini

Four Seminal Thinkers in International Theory: Machiavelli, Grotius, Kant, and Mazzini

Four Seminal Thinkers in International Theory: Machiavelli, Grotius, Kant, and Mazzini

Four Seminal Thinkers in International Theory: Machiavelli, Grotius, Kant, and Mazzini

Synopsis

Martin Wight was one of the most profound and influential thinkers on international relations of his time; and his work is increasingly discussed, appraised, and drawn upon today. His earlier volume of posthumously-published lectures - International Theory: The Three Traditions - is now regarded as a seminal text. That volume is here complemented and completed. In these four lectures Wight takes the archetypal thinkers of the three traditions - Machiavelli, Grotius, and Kant- to whom he adds Mazzini, the father of all revolutionary nationalism (and so the prototype of such as Nehru, Nasser, and Mandela) and subjects their writings and careers to a masterly analysis and commentary. This volume has been prepared and edited by Gabriele Wight and Brian Porter, and contains an important new introduction to Wight's thought by Professor David S. Yost. The volume also contains a preface by Sir Michael Howard, CH.

Excerpt

Martin Wight was, if not the greatest, then certainly the most influential twentieth-century British thinker about international relations. Whether he founded something called 'the English School', or indeed whether there was anything that deserved to be called an 'English School' is a matter of some doubt. What is certain is that he transformed thinking about international relations in this country at least; and if he has been ignored or downgraded in the United States, the result has been the impoverishment, not only of American thinking but, disastrously, of American practice in the conduct of foreign affairs.

When Wight began teaching in the 1950s, 'international relations' extended little beyond, on the one hand, the study of diplomatic history and international law, and on the other the aspirational work of such Wilsonian idealists as Alfred Zimmern, Lionel Curtis and Philip Noel Baker; men who were concerned rather to change the world than to understand it. Those thinkers had grown up in the shadow of the First World War, and saw it as their mission to prevent such a catastrophe from ever happening again. Wight grew up in the shadow of the Second and of the Cold War that followed it, and his generation had learned that idealism was not enough. 'Realist' thinkers such as E. H. Carr in the United Kingdom and Hans Morgenthau in the United States thus taught that international relations was

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