Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought

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Princeton University Press, Feb 9, 2009 - Political Science - 792 pages
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This is a significantly expanded edition of one of the greatest works of modern political theory. Sheldon Wolin's Politics and Vision inspired and instructed two generations of political theorists after its appearance in 1960. This new edition retains intact the original ten chapters about political thinkers from Plato to Mill, and adds seven chapters about theorists from Marx and Nietzsche to Rawls and the postmodernists. The new chapters, which show how thinkers have grappled with the immense possibilities and dangers of modern power, are themselves a major theoretical statement. They culminate in Wolin's remarkable argument that the United States has invented a new political form, "inverted totalitarianism," in which economic rather than political power is dangerously dominant. In this new edition, the book that helped to define political theory in the late twentieth century should energize, enlighten, and provoke generations of scholars to come.

Wolin originally wrote Politics and Vision to challenge the idea that political analysis should consist simply of the neutral observation of objective reality. He argues that political thinkers must also rely on creative vision. Wolin shows that great theorists have been driven to shape politics to some vision of the Good that lies outside the existing political order. As he tells it, the history of theory is thus, in part, the story of changing assumptions about the Good.

In the new chapters, Wolin displays all the energy and flair, the command of detail and of grand historical developments, that he brought to this story forty years ago. This is a work of immense talent and intense thought, an intellectual achievement that will endure.

 

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User Review  - patito-de-hule - LibraryThing

Professor Wolin shows the development of political philosophy from ancient times to post-modern. He is an excellent writer and clarifies concepts by showing what each philosopher in his proper context ... Read full review

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About the author (2009)

Sheldon Sanford Wolin was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 4, 1922. During World War II, he served as a bombardier and navigator in the Pacific for the Army Air Forces. He received a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College in 1946 and a doctorate from Harvard University in 1950. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley and Princeton University before retiring in 1987. He wrote several books during his lifetime including Hobbes and the Epic Tradition of Political Theory, Tocqueville Between Two Worlds: The Making of a Political and Theoretical Life, and Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought was published in 1960, received the Benjamin E. Lippincott Award in recognition of its lasting impact in 1985, and was reissued in expanded form in 2004. He also wrote frequently for The New York Review of Books on Watergate, Henry Kissinger, the presidency of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and American conservatism. Some of his essays on the Free Speech Movement and campus unrest at Berkeley were included with those written by John H. Schaar in The Berkeley Rebellion and Beyond: Essays on Politics and Education in the Technological Society. He died on October 21, 2015 at the age of 93.

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