Article

The Value of the History of Political Philosophy

Terence Ball

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199238804
Published online September 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199238804.003.0004

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 The Value of the History of Political Philosophy

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  • History of Western Philosophy
  • Social and Political Philosophy

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To ask, “What is the worth or value of the history of political philosophy?” is a rather complicated question with many competing answers. The answer(s) one gives depends to a very large degree on the approach one takes or the “school” of interpretation to which one belongs. Some answer that there are “perennial questions” and “timeless truths” to be found in classic works of political philosophy that speak to us still. Others answer that such study reveals the roots or origins of present-day political movements such as communism and fascism. This article considers the possibility that the history of political philosophy and its scholarly study are without value. After dispatching this rather philistine view, it shows how various approaches to interpretation assign very different value to the study of the history of political philosophy. These approaches include the “perennial problems,” Marxism, “ideological origins,” feminism, Straussian approach, postmodernism, and the Cambridge School.

Keywords: Marxism; history; political philosophy; ideological origins; feminism; Straussian approach; postmodernism; Cambridge School; perennial problems

Article.  5899 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

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