The Illusion of History
Time and the Radical Political Imagination
European radical political thought—represented by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, and Michel Foucault—has deeply impacted the Western intellectual tradition and political life. These thinkers sought to transform Western societies by critiquing institutions that they felt led to oppression of groups. They saw societies and institutions as part of a history that constantly develops and has no objective, timeless purpose, or principles. They understood the history of things people do, and of events that happen, in a primarily evolutionary way. As a result, these radical political thinkers have often been thought to have a strong historical consciousness.
Andrew Russ argues in this book that a closer look at their philosophical underpinnings finds that Rousseau, Marx, and Foucault are much less "historical" in their methodology than is widely believed. Instead, they share a more "timeless" view, one indebted to principles ordinarily seen as timeless or transcendent. Russ finds that these thinkers are actually quite dependent on the philosopher who concluded the Enlightenment, Immanuel Kant. Russ's study shows how Kant's view of human freedom and subjectivity as timeless actually informs the work of the radical political position.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrew R. Russ is lecturer in European studies at the University of Adelaide.
About the Author
Other Titles in PHILOSOPHY / History & Surveys / Modern
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