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The circumstances surrounding an event, usually the writing or publication of a book. Amongst such circumstances, contemporary political and intellectual debates are often seen as especially important. Knowledge of the context of intellectual production may help to explain what an author was trying to achieve, and the meaning of what was produced, but this is a disputed matter in the study of the history of ideas. ‘Contextualism’ is associated in the United Kingdom with political philosophers in Cambridge (see hermeneutics), while the rival approach of confining oneself to the analysis of the arguments of the text is associated with political philosophers in Oxford. Intelligent discussion of political theory requires both.


Subjects: Politics.

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