Sheldon S. Wolin, Who Revitalized Political Theory, Dies at 93

By Grimes, William | International New York Times, October 30, 2015 | Go to article overview

Sheldon S. Wolin, Who Revitalized Political Theory, Dies at 93


Grimes, William, International New York Times


Mr. Wolin galvanized political science by gathering key political philosophers and examining their ideas as a way to criticize current political structures.

Sheldon S. Wolin, a political theorist whose landmark 1960 book "Politics and Vision" shifted the center of gravity back to politics, rather than economics or sociology, in the field of political science, and who went on to analyze the possibilities and limits of popular democracy in a series of influential studies, died on Oct. 21 at his home in Salem, Ore. He was 93.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Deborah Olmon.

"Politics and Vision," subtitled "Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought," appeared at a time when American political science was under the sway of the behavioralist revolution, which emphasized the quantitative analysis of data rather than political ideas as a way to explain political behavior.

Professor Wolin, then teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, galvanized the profession by gathering key political philosophers, beginning with the Greeks, in a grand debate on democracy and examining their ideas not as historical artifacts, but as a way to criticize current political structures.

"The book revitalized political theory by making its history relevant to an analysis of the present," Nicholas Xenos, a student of Professor Wolin's and a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, wrote in an email. "It challenged the behavioralists, for whom history was increasingly irrelevant."

In 1985, the American Political Science Association honored the book with the Benjamin E. Lippincott Award in recognition of its lasting impact. It was reissued in expanded form in 2004.

Nearly as influential on the profession was Professor Wolin's 1969 essay "Political Theory as a Vocation," a call for political scientists to develop what he called "epic" theories that would change perceptions and, in turn, societies.

With Michael Rogin, Hanna Pitkin and other colleagues, Professor Wolin made Berkeley a leading center for the study of political theory, and the headquarters of what became known as the Berkeley school.

He cast himself and his profession in activist terms, concerned with "the being and well-being of collectives," as he put it in the introduction to "The Presence of the Past: Essays on the State and the Constitution" (1989). Political theory, he wrote, "is primarily a civic and secondarily an academic activity."

Sheldon Sanford Wolin was born on Aug. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Sheldon S. Wolin, Who Revitalized Political Theory, Dies at 93
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.