Reappraising Political Theory: Revisionist Studies in the by Terence Ball

By Terence Ball

During this full of life and pleasing e-book, Terence Ball keeps that 'classic' works in political thought proceed to talk to us provided that they're periodically re-read and reinterpreted from replacement views. That, the writer contends, is how those works grew to become classics, and why they're considered as such. Ball indicates a manner of studying that's either 'pluralist' and 'problem-driven'--pluralist in that there's not anyone correct method to learn a textual content, and problem-driven in that the reinterpretation is influenced by means of difficulties that emerge whereas analyzing those texts. moreover, the following readings and interpretations develop into a growing number of suffused with the interpretations of others. This travel de strength, consistently exciting and eclectic, makes a speciality of the center difficulties surrounding some of the significant thinkers. used to be Machiavelli particularly amoral? Why did language topic lots to Hobbes--and why may still it topic to us? Are the roots of the totalitarian kingdom to be present in Rousseau? have been the utilitarians sexist of their view of the franchise? The author's goal is to teach how a pluralist and problem-centered method can shed new mild on outdated and up to date works in political thought, and at the controversies that proceed over their that means and importance. Written in a full of life and obtainable sort, the booklet will galvanize debate between scholars and students alike.

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Five points merit particular mention. The first and most important, as I have noted already, is that mine is a problemcentred perspective. By this I mean that my method of interpretation varies with and is dictated by the particular interpretive problem being addressed, and not the other way round. A method is not like a stretch sock: one size does not fit all feet. Nor, by the same token, can any single method or approach—textual, contextual, Marxist, realist, Straussian, or whatever—possibly illuminate, much less resolve, every conceivable problem of interpretation.

The point or purpose of a civil religion, for Mill, is pedagogical: its aim is to impart civicly useful knowledge and to instil a sense of civic responsibility and restraint. Such a civil religion is quite unlike its alleged Comtean counterpart, which aims to stifle criticism, manipulate the emotions, and procure assent to an authoritarian and undemocratic system of priestly rule. I conclude by considering the most probable Scottish source of Mill's conception of a civil religion. In Chapter 7 I examine Michel Foucault's claim that 'We are less Greek than we believe', in that we dwell 'within the panoptic machine'.

Charges that the theories of Plato or Rousseau were 'totalitarian' or that Bentham was a 'feminist' fall under this heading. Although anachronistic, these characterizations are not necessarily illegitimate. They may be useful and illuminating in some contexts but not in others, and a stimulus to the reinterpretation and reappraisal of a theorist and his or her work. Third, I think it worth trying, in so far as possible and where appropriate, to place the text within two contexts, the 32 Reappraising Political Theory first being the context of its composition (which necessarily includes some reference to its author's intentions), and the second being the various contexts of its reception (which may or may not take account of authorial intent).

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