The Sceptical Idealist: Michael Oakeshott As a Critic of the Enlightenment

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This is the first book-length study to provide a structured interpretation of the significance of Michael Oakeshott’s critique of the Enlightenment. By seeing the thinker as a ‘sceptical idealist’ posing a serious challenge to the intellectual positions informed by the Enlightenment, this book attempts to resolve some of the issues debated by Oakeshott scholars. The author argues that Oakeshott’s famous critique of philosophisme and Rationalism in fact expresses a sense of the crisis of philosophical modernity. Moreover, notwithstanding some recent interpretations, throughout his intellectual career Oakeshott has never altered his analysis of these two themes: philosophy as the persistent re-establishment of completeness by transcending abstractness, and the modes of experience as self-consistent worlds of discourse. To apply this philosophy in his moral and political writings, Oakeshott has redressed an imbalance in favour of the Enlightenment ethical position — ‘the sovereignty of technique’, ‘demonstrative moral truth’, ’the politics of faith’ and ‘enterprise association’ — by revitalising the importance of ‘traditional knowledge’, ‘conversation’, ‘intimation’, ‘the politics of scepticism’ and ‘civil association’. Oakeshott is neither a doctrinal liberal nor a dogmatic conservative, but a philosophical sceptic. Moreover, Oakeshott’s contribution to history not only lies in his effort to transcend the Enlightenment historiographical position — by separating the historical from the naturalised conception of History on which so-called ‘scientific history’ rests — but also in his idealistic solution for the ‘temporal dilemma’ and the ‘epistemic tension’ in history that have long bothered philosophers.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Roy Tseng meticulously reconstructs Oakeshott's views across their full range and adeptly weaves the disparate strands together into a coherent and plausible whole.' Graeme Garrard, Political Studies Review 'One of the real virtues of Tseng’s approach is that it enables him to make connections between Oakeshott and other trends in modern philosophy, as well as to tie together some of the seemingly diverse strands within Oakeshott’s thought itself.’ Ian Tregenza, History of Political Thought ‘Tseng’s book offers an interesting effort to make Oakeshott’s thought a plausible non-foundational alternative to post-modernism and reactionary traditionalism in reaction to the crisis of the Enlightenment project.’ Natalie Riendeau, Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 'Essential reading.' Max Payne, Network "A vindication of Oakeshott's philosophy of experience as a critique of the Enlightenment project." Alex Astrov, Contemporary Political Theory "Among a plethora of books on Oakeshott’s philosophy, the most thorough and efficacious I’ve read." Bob Cheeks, Intellectual Conservatism
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780907845225
  • Publisher: Imprint Academic
  • Publication date: 1/28/2003
  • Series: British Idealist Studies Series
  • Pages: 302
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 1.06 (d)

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