Chapter

From Early to Late Modernity

in Rhetoric, Modality, Modernity

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226777481
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226777504 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226777504.003.0003
From Early to Late Modernity

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In early Modernity, rhetorically attuned initiatives of Thomas Hobbes and Giovanni Battista Vico represent a secession from Classical political philosophy. Their modernity means devaluing Classical political philosophy by means of, but not exclusively by means of, Classical political rhetoric: their modernity is simply the vector away from an inoperative Classicism. How is late Modernism ready for some (anachronistic) Hobbesian and Vichian intrusions? One could hypothesise—exploiting, still, the metaphor of the contest of faculties—a mutual modification of rhetorical strategies and a revisionist philosophical movement, a program represented best, perhaps, by the late work of Bernard Williams in his collections, Truth and Truthfulness, and the posthumous In the Beginning Was the Deed, Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline, and The Sense of the Past. In so far as philosophy deals in ethics and politics, it must contend with its own systemic ambitions; modality sorts. It is conflicted theory; it must avow rationalism and not disavow a thin, rationalist optimism; it must expand the account of reason's necessities, and maintain, for responsibility, free will.

Keywords: late Modernity; Thomas Hobbes; Giovanni Battista Vico; political philosophy; inquiry; Bernard Williams; modality; politics; free will; rationalism

Chapter.  9365 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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