2015 ISHS Superior Achievement Award
What constitutes Lincoln’s political greatness as a statesman? As a great leader, he saved the Union, presided over the end of slavery, and helped to pave the way for an interracial democracy. His great speeches provide enduring wisdom about human equality, democracy, free labor, and free society. Joseph R. Fornieri contends that Lincoln’s political genius is best understood in terms of a philosophical statesmanship that united greatness of thought and action, one that combined theory and practice. This philosophical statesmanship, Fornieri argues, can best be understood in terms of six dimensions of political leadership: wisdom, prudence, duty, magnanimity, rhetoric, and patriotism. Drawing on insights from history, politics, and philosophy, Fornieri tackles the question of how Lincoln’s statesmanship displayed each of these crucial elements.
Providing an accessible framework for understanding Lincoln’s statesmanship, this thoughtful study examines the sixteenth president’s political leadership in terms of the traditional moral vision of statecraft as understood by epic political philosophers such as Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. Fornieri contends that Lincoln’s character is best understood in terms of Aquinas’s understanding of magnanimity or greatness of soul, the crowning virtue of statesmanship. True political greatness, as embodied by Lincoln, involves both humility and sacrificial service for the common good. The enduring wisdom and timeless teachings of these great thinkers, Fornieri shows, can lead to a deeper appreciation of statesmanship and of its embodiment in Abraham Lincoln.
With the great philosophers and books of western civilization as his guide, Fornieri demonstrates the important contribution of normative political philosophy to an understanding of our sixteenth president. Informed by political theory that draws on the classics in revealing the timelessness of Lincoln’s example, his interdisciplinary study offers profound insights for anyone interested in the nature of leadership, statesmanship, political philosophy, political ethics, political history, and constitutional law.
In 2015, members of the philosophy department at the University of Madrid conducted an interview with Alberto Moreiras for the university’s digital archive. The resulting dialogues and the Spanish edition of this work, Marranismo e inscripción, o el abandono de la conciencia desdichada, are the basis for Against Abstraction, supplemented with an interview conducted for the Chilean journal Papel máquina. In these landmark conversations, Moreiras describes how, though he was initially committed to Latin American literary studies, he eventually transitioned to become an eminent scholar of critical theory, existential philosophy, and ultimately infrapolitics and posthegemony.
Blending intellectual autobiography with a survey of Hispanism as practiced in universities in the United States (including the schisms in Latin American subaltern studies that eventually led to Moreiras’s departure from Duke University), these narratives read like a picaresque and a polemic on the symbolic power of scholars. Drawing on the concept of marranism (originally a term for Iberian Jews and Muslims forced to convert to Christianity during the Middle Ages) to consider the situations and allegiances he has navigated over the years, Moreiras has produced a multifaceted self-portrait that will surely spark further discourse.
Considering Levinas’s critique of French liberalism and Nazi racial politics, and the links between them, Maldonado-Torres identifies a “master morality” of dominion and control at the heart of western modernity. This master morality constitutes the center of a warring paradigm that inspires and legitimizes racial policies, imperial projects, and wars of invasion. Maldonado-Torres refines the description of modernity’s war paradigm and the Levinasian critique through Fanon’s phenomenology of the colonized and racial self and the politics of decolonization, which he reinterprets in light of the Levinasian conception of ethics. Drawing on Dussel’s genealogy of the modern imperial and warring self, Maldonado-Torres theorizes race as the naturalization of war’s death ethic. He offers decolonial ethics and politics as an antidote to modernity’s master morality and the paradigm of war. Against War advances the de-colonial turn, showing how theory and ethics cannot be conceived without politics, and how they all need to be oriented by the imperative of decolonization in the modern/colonial and postmodern world.
An incisive argument for the relevance of political philosophy and its possibility of effecting change.The appeal of political philosophy is that it will answer questions about justice for the sake of political action. But contemporary political philosophy struggles to live up to this promise. Since the death of John Rawls, political philosophers have become absorbed in methodological debates, leading to an impasse between two unattractive tendencies: utopians argue that philosophy should focus uncompromisingly on abstract questions of justice, while pragmatists argue that we should concern ourselves only with local efforts to ameliorate injustice. Agents of Change shows a way forward.Ben Laurence argues that we can combine utopian justice and the pragmatic response to injustice in a political philosophy that unifies theory and practice in pursuit of change. Political philosophy, on this view, is not a purely normative theory disconnected from practice. Rather, political philosophy is itself a practice—an exercise of practical reason issuing in action. Laurence contends that this exercise begins in ordinary life with the confrontation with injustice. Philosophy draws ideas about justice from this encounter to be pursued through political action. Laurence shows that the task of political philosophy is not complete until it asks the question “What is to be done?” and deliberates actionable answers.
Though the activities of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were unified in their common idea of resistance to oppression, these groups fought their battles on multiple fronts. The NAACP filed lawsuits and aggressively lobbied Congress and state legislatures, while Martin Luther King Jr. and SCLC challenged the racial status quo through nonviolent mass action, and the SNCC focused on community empowerment activities. In Agitations, Kevin Anderson studies these various activities in order to trace the ideological foundations of these groups and to understand how diversity among African Americans created multiple political strategies.
Agitations goes beyond the traditionally acknowledged divide between integrationist and accommodationist wings of African American politics to explore the diverse fundamental ideologies and strategic outcomes among African American activists that still define, influence, and complicate political life today.
The essays collected here, somewhat autobiographical in their effect, range from a discussion of the despair of the Cold War and Vietnam in 1966 to reflections on the euphoria over the ending of the Cold War in Eastern Europe in 1990. The opening essays are general in nature: exploring the foundation and limitation of sound morality; examining what is “American” about American morality; measuring all by the yardsticks provided by classical and modern philosophers. Anastaplo’s overriding concern here is to show how one can be moral without being either cranky or moralistic. He then turns his attention to the issues of the day: the first amendment, religious liberty, women and the law, gun control, medicine, capital punishment, local politics, civil disobedience.
This stunningly persuasive book examines the persistent, radical gap between the promise of American ideals and the performance of American politics. Samuel P. Huntington shows how Americans, throughout their history as a nation, have been united by the democratic creed of liberty, equality, and hostility to authority. At the same time he reveals how, inevitably, these ideals have been perennially frustrated through the institutions and hierarchies required to carry on the essential functions of governing a democratic society.From this antagonism between the ideals of democracy and the realities of power have risen four great political upheavals in American history. Every third generation, Huntington argues, Americans have tried to reconstruct their institutions to make them more truly reflect deeply rooted national ideals. Moving from the clenched fists and mass demonstrations of the 1960s, to the moral outrage of the Progressive and Jacksonian Eras, back to the creative ideological fervor of the American Revolution, he incisively analyzes the dissenters’ objectives. All, he pungently writes, sought to remove the fundamental disharmony between the reality of government in America and the ideals on which the American nation was founded.Huntington predicts that the tension between ideals and institutions is likely to increase in this country in the future. And he reminds us that the fate of liberty and democracy abroad is intrinsically linked to the strength of our power in world affairs. This brilliant and controversial analysis deserves to rank alongside the works of Tocqueville, Bryce, and Hofstadter and will become a classic commentary on the meaning of America.
A nuanced extrapolation of Hannah Arendt’s theory of judgment through her highly provocative reading of Immanuel Kant
More than a half century after it was first published, Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism rose to the top of best-seller lists as readers grappled with the triumph of Trumpism. Arendt, Kant, and the Enigma of Judgment directs our attention to her later thought, the posthumously published and highly provocative Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy. Martin Blumenthal-Barby puts this work in dialogue with Arendt’s other writings, including her notes on Kant’s Critique of Judgment, to outline her own theory of judgment for the twentieth century. In an era of post-truths and artificial intelligence, the idea that authentic judgment—for example, the ability to distinguish right from wrong—is incommensurable with abstract, automated processes lies at the center of Arendt’s late work and at the fore of our collective reckoning.
Rather than presenting us with a fixed account, Blumenthal-Barby suggests, Arendt’s drawing and redrawing of conceptual distinctions is itself an enactment of judgment, a process that challenges and complicates what she says at every turn. In so doing, Arendt, in thoroughly Kantian fashion, establishes judgment as a performative category that can never be taught but only demonstrated. As sharp as it is timely, this incisive book reminds us why a shared reality matters in a time of intense political polarization and why the democratic project, vulnerable as it may appear today, crucially depends on it.
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