Uncertain Victory: Social Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought, 1870-1920

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Between 1870 and 1920, two generations of European and American intellectuals created a transatlantic community of philosophical and political discourse. Uncertain Victory, the first comparative study of ideas and politics in France, Germany, the U.S., and Great Britain during these fifty years, demonstrates how a number of thinkers from different traditions converged to create the theoretical foundations for new programs of social democracy and progressivism. Kloppenberg studies a wide range of pivotal theorists and activists—including philosophers such as William James, Wilhelm Dilthey, and T. H. Green, democratic socialists such as Jean Jaurès, Walter Rauschenbusch, Eduard Bernstein, and Beatrice and Sidney Webb, and social theorists such as John Dewey and Max Weber—as he establishes the connection between the philosophers' challenges to the traditions of empiricism and idealism and the activists' opposition to the traditions of laissez-faire liberalism and revolutionary socialism. By demonstrating a link between a philosophy of self-conscious uncertainty and a politics of continuing democratic experimentation, and by highlighting previously unrecognized similarities among a number of prominent 19th- and 20th-century thinkers, Uncertain Victory is sure to spur a reassessment of the relationship between ideas and politics on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195053043
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/28/1988
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.13 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

James T. Kloppenberg is Charles Warren Professor of American History at Harvard University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
Part 1
Chapter 1. The Philosophy of the Via Media 15
1. Beyond Kant: Religion and Science in Nineteenth-Century Thought 15
2. Portraits: A Generation of Radical Philosophers 26
3. Clearing the Field: Critiques of Associationism and Idealism 46
Chapter 2. The Radical Theory of Knowledge 64
1. The Immediacy of Lived Experience 64
2. The Consciousness of Continuity and the Continuity of Consciousness 73
3. Voluntary Action and Pragmatic Truth 79
Chapter 3. Culture, Understanding, and History 95
1. The Social and Meaningful Quality of Experience 95
2. Interpretation as a Means of Knowing 100
3. The Historical Sensibility 107
Chapter 4. The Ethics of Rational Benevolence 115
1. Beyond Utilitarianism and Intuitionism 115
2. The Conflict Between Prudence and Justice 123
3. The Historicity of Ethics and the Burden of Responsibility 132
Chapter 5. From Philosophy to Politics 145
1. The Politics of the Via Media 145
2. Political Reform and the Role of Intellectuals 160
3. Resurrecting the Common Good 170
Part 2
Chapter 6. From Socialism to Social Democracy 199
1. The Origins of Social Democracy 199
2. The Critique of Socialist Reason 224
3. Rethinking Economic Theory: Where Marx Went Wrong 239
Chapter 7. Social Democratic Politics 247
1. Reform Strategy and the Tactics of Liberal Alliance 247
2. Democracy and the Problem of Expertise 267
3. Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity Reconsidered 277
Chapter 8. From Liberalism to Progressivism 298
1. Drifting from Liberalism 298
2. Understanding Social Experience 329
3. The Problem of Ethics in a Disenchanted World 340
Chapter 9. Progressive Politics 349
1. Political Action and Cultural Change 349
2. Progressive Education 373
3. Bureaucracy versus Democracy 381
Chapter 10. The Prospect of Justice 395
1. Freedom and Property 395
2. Toward a Harmony of Free Wills 401
3. Conclusion: Knowledge, Responsibility, and Reform 410
Notes 417
Bibliography 511
Index 529
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