Aristotle and Modern Politics: The Persistence of Political Philosophy
by Aristide Tessitore
University of Notre Dame Press, 2002 Paper: 978-0-268-02014-9
ABOUT THIS BOOK
ABOUT THIS BOOK Despite the separation between classical and modern theories of government, contributors to Aristotle and Modern Politics find Aristotle a useful interlocutor for assessing both possibilities and limitations in contemporary politics. In this collection, noted political scientists, theologians, and philosophers discuss the magnitude of Aristotle's presence in contemporary debate and demonstrate some of the ways in which Aristotle sheds new light on contemporary problems. This engaging book also exhibits the persistence of political philosophy at a time when the pervasive influence of "ideology" and "historicism" lead many to deny its possibility. Although the authors of these essays differ on the nature of Aristotle's contribution, all are united by the conviction that he has something important to teach citizens of modern political societies.
If the fundamental principles of modern politics were drawn from critical reflections of reason over and against the imposition of authority under its various guises, modern politics can best sustain itself by nurturing the critical attitude that initially brought it into being. Paradoxically, serious engagement with the "preliberal" thought of Aristotle can render contemporary debate more fruitful by bringing to light subtle limitations in the political discourse of any era, including our own. If the modern understanding of freedom is primarily freedom to speak and think for oneself, the essays in Aristotle and Modern Politics exhibit the persistence of political philosophy by thinking beyond limits often constricting contemporary paradigms.
ARISTIDE TESSITORE is an associate professor of political science at Furman University.