Privilege and Liberty and Other Essays in Political Philosophy

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We are currently witnessing an increasingly influential counterrevolution in political theory, evident in the dialectical return to classical political science pioneered most prominently by Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin. In this context, the work of the relatively unknown Aurel Kolnai is of great importance. Kolnai was one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century to place the restoration of common-sense evaluation and philosophical realism at the center of his philosophical and political itinerary. In this volume, Daniel J. Mahoney presents Kolnai's major writings in political philosophy, writings that explore - in ways that are diverse but complementary - Kolnai's critique of progressive or egalitarian democracy. The title essay contains Kolnai's fullest account of the limits of liberty understood as emancipation from traditional, natural, or divine restraints. "The Utopian Mind," a prÈcis of Kolnai's critique of utopianism in a posthumous book of the same title, appears here for the first time. "Conservative and Revolutionary Ethos," Kolnai's remarkable 1972 essay comparing conservative and revolutionary approaches to political life, appears for the first time in English translation. The volume also includes a critically sympathetic evaluation of Michael Oakeshott's Rationalism in Politics and an incisive criticism of Jacques Maritain's efforts to synthesize Christian orthodoxy and progressive politics. Privilege and Liberty and Other Essays in Political Philosophy is a searching critique of political utopianism, as well as a pathbreaking articulation of conservative constitutionalism as the true support for human liberty properly understood. It is a major contribution to Christian and conservative political reflection in our time.
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Editorial Reviews

Perspectives On Political Science
This volume of Kolnai's essays offers a searching critique of political utopianism and casts a penetrating eye on liberal democracy's own illiberal and potentially self-destructive tendencies.
James V. Schall
[This] book . . . gives us a clearer and more familiar insight into a thinker who was not well-known in his time but whose importance may yet prove to be significant.
Perspectives on Political Science
This volume of Kolnai's essays offers a searching critique of political utopianism and casts a penetrating eye on liberal democracy's own illiberal and potentially self-destructive tendencies.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Aurel Kolnai (1900-1973) was a distinguished moral and political philosopher. His books include The War Against the West (1938), Ethics, Value and Reality (1977), and The Utopian Mind and Other Papers (1995). Daniel J. Mahoney is Associate Professor of Political Science at Assumption College. He is author of The Liberal Political Science of Raymond Aron (1992) and De Gaulle: Statesmanship, Grandeur, and Modern Democracy (1996) and the editor of Modern Liberty and Its Discontents by Pierre Manent (1998).
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Foreword Chapter 2 Editor's Note Chapter 3 The Recovery of the Common World: An Introduction to the Moral and Political Reflection of Aurel Kolnai Part 4 "Liberty Under God" vs. the "Self-Sovereignty" of Democratic Man Chapter 5 Privilege and Liberty (1949) Chapter 6 The Meaning of the "Common Man" (1949) Chapter 7 Three Riders of the Apocalypse (1950) Part 8 The Critique of Utopianism Chapter 9 The Utopian Mind (1960) Part 10 The Meaning of Conservatism Chapter 11 Conservative and Revolutionary Ethos (1972) Chapter 12 Conservatism and the Natural Order of Things: A Review of Michael Oakeshott's Rationalism in PoliticsI (1965) Part 13 Christianity and Democracy Chapter 14 Between Christ and the Idols of Modernity: A Review of Jacques Maritain's Man and the StateI (1951) Chapter 15 Index
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