Paperback / softback
February 1, 1993
9780801846359
English
240
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.6875 Pounds (US)
$25.95 USD, £19.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

The Ennobling of Democracy

The Challenge of the Postmodern Age

With the end of the Cold War, says Thomas L. Pangle, liberal democracy was deprived of its traditional enemy, and forced to re-examine its internal structure and fundamental aims. One result has been the moral-relativist "postmodernism" of mainstream Western intellectuals.

Focusing on Lyotard, Vattimo, and Rorty, The Ennobling of Democracy offers a searching critique of postmodernism and its implications for political life and thought. Pangle carefully examines the political dimensions of postmodernist teachings, including the rejection of the natural-rights doctrines of the Enlightenment, the discounting of public purposefulness, and the disenchantment with claims of civic virtue and reason. He argues that a serious challenge has been posed to postmodernism by the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe, which have directly experienced heroic political leadership, maintained a prominent place for religion, and preserved a belief in the virtues and duties of citizenship. They consequently make demands on Western thought that postmodernism has been unable to meet.

Drawing on the classical republican ideal, Pangle opens the door to a bold new synthesis in political philosophy. He argues that by reappropriating classical civic rationalism—and especially classical philosophy of education—a framework may be established to integrate the most significant findings of modern rationalism into a conception of humanity that encompasses, in an unprecedented way, the entire scope of the human condition.

About the Author

Thomas L. Pangle is professor of political science at the University of Toronto. His many acclaimed publications include Montesquieu's Philosophy of Liberalsim and The Spirit of Modern Republicanism: The Moral Vision of the American Founders and the Philosophy of Locke. He has also published a number of translations of Platonic dialogues, including The Laws of Plato and The Roots of Political Philosophy: Ten Forgotten Socratic Dialogues.

Reviews

"A deeply thoughtful book."

- Stephen L. Elkin - American Political Science Review

Endorsements

"A book to be commended both for its seriousness and its lucidity; a strong and responsible articulation of an important point of view."

- Stanley Fish, Duke University

"The Ennobling of Democracy begins its urgent task of deconstructing deconstructionism, and in the process greatly enriches our understanding of the threats to contemporary democracy."

- Francis Fukuyama

"Pangle's argument forces me to articulate and deepen my own views. The book, consequently, is a fine example of the dialectic which it is part of Pangle's purpose to defend, and will make an important contribution to civic education."

- Wilson Carey McWilliams, Rutgers University
Johns Hopkins University Press
The Johns Hopkins Series in Constitutional Thought
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