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Rationalism in politics, and other essays (edition 1962)

by Michael Joseph Oakeshott

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314760,294 (3.91)1
Rationalism in Politics, first published in 1962, has established the late Michael Oakeshott as the leading conservative political theorist in modern Britain. This expanded collection of essays astutely points out the limits of "reason" in rationalist politics. Oakeshott criticizes ideological schemes to reform society according to supposedly "scientific" or rationalistic principles that ignore the wealth and variety of human experience. "Rationalism in politics," says Oakeshott, "involves a misconception with regard to the nature of human knowledge." History has shown that it produces unexpected, often disastrous results. "Having cut himself off from the traditional knowledge of his society, and denied the value of any education more extensive than a training in a technique of analysis," the Rationalist succeeds only in undermining the institutions that hold civilized society together. In this regard, rationalism in politics is "a corruption of the mind."… (more)
Member:UMPhilosophy
Title:Rationalism in politics, and other essays
Authors:Michael Joseph Oakeshott
Info:New York, Basic Books Pub. Co. [1962] (1962), 333 pages
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Rationalism in Politics and other essays by Michael Oakeshott

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The meandering prose makes the book longer than it needs to be and sacrifices some clarity. Rationalism in Politics is the best essay, presenting a solid conservative case against the rationalist turn in modern politics that oddly coincides with similar critiques on the far left. The Voice of Poetry in the Conversation of Mankind, a tedious meditation on art in which Oakeshott's prose is at its most florid and overwrought, is the worst of the collection. ( )
  brleach | Jan 26, 2015 |
Oakeshott is an honest writer and presents his ideas in direct if somewhat turgid prose. He advocates for tradition and experience in making political decisions rather than what he sees as dangerously proscriptive rationalism. It's an attractive position, but I think Oakeshott underestimates the duplicitousness of most politicians. They are nothing like a collection of disinterested Oxford dons! Even so, I think Oakeshott's ideas are important and these essays give a unique and appealing philosophy of political conservatism.



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1 vote le.vert.galant | Jan 26, 2015 |
I didn't like this collection of essays at all. I was especially disappointed with the first essay which gives the book its title. Oakeshott's thesis is simple: politics cannot be based on merely technical knowledge. The point is completely obvious and he just keeps repeating it without reaching any deeper insights at all. He could have written about how the political process actually works instead of just making a few vague references to "tradition". Oakeshott also embellishes his arguments with overly stylised language and verbiage throughout the book. That's his style I suppose, but I don't have much patience with authors who put literary flair before clarity.
  thcson | Sep 16, 2011 |
When factual and ethical meet, and are combined with good judgement.
  mdstarr | Sep 11, 2011 |
Romanian translation
  athaulf | May 16, 2010 |
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Rationalism in Politics, first published in 1962, has established the late Michael Oakeshott as the leading conservative political theorist in modern Britain. This expanded collection of essays astutely points out the limits of "reason" in rationalist politics. Oakeshott criticizes ideological schemes to reform society according to supposedly "scientific" or rationalistic principles that ignore the wealth and variety of human experience. "Rationalism in politics," says Oakeshott, "involves a misconception with regard to the nature of human knowledge." History has shown that it produces unexpected, often disastrous results. "Having cut himself off from the traditional knowledge of his society, and denied the value of any education more extensive than a training in a technique of analysis," the Rationalist succeeds only in undermining the institutions that hold civilized society together. In this regard, rationalism in politics is "a corruption of the mind."

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Liberty Fund, Inc

2 editions of this book were published by Liberty Fund, Inc.

Editions: 0865970955, 0865970947

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