Between Philosophy and Politics: The Alienation of Political Theory

Between Philosophy and Politics: The Alienation of Political Theory

Between Philosophy and Politics: The Alienation of Political Theory

Between Philosophy and Politics: The Alienation of Political Theory

Excerpt

The beginning is more than half the work.

PLATO

This book is a general critique of academic political theory. The focus is on political theory, philosophy, politics and, particularly, the relationships among them. It is what should be called, I suppose, a deconstructive effort, because the purpose is basically one of destroying a number of myths that not only pervade the literature of academic political theory but have in large measure come to define it. Although in the final chapters I attempt to point beyond these myths and indicate the possibilities of political theory, my purpose is primarily to bring political theory face to face with itself and demythologize the enterprise.

These myths include the beliefs that the canon of classic texts from at least Plato to Marx constitutes an actual historical tradition that explains the present; that epistemology reveals the nature of scientific and social scientific explanation and provides the foundation of scientific inquiry and knowledge; that philosophy and political theory can discover and articulate transcendental grounds of political judgment; that politics is something more than a conventional form of human action or has some essential character that explains it and endows it with value; and that academic discourse about politics is equivalent to political discourse. It is the concatenation of these myths that has caused what I will refer to as the alienation of political theory.

This alienation has several analytically distinguishable dimensions, but it is basically a function of political theory's dependence on various forms of philosophical and metatheoretical discourse and its failure to come to grips with its actual relationship to politics. To explain this situation would be in part simply to relate the history of academic political theory, which is a task that I have attempted to take on, in a preliminary way, in . . .

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