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Political Theory and Praxis

Political Theory and Praxis: New Perspectives

Copyright Date: 1977
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 292
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  • Book Info
    Political Theory and Praxis
    Book Description:

    Part I: Origins_x000B_On the History of “Theory” and “Praxis” by Nicholas Lobkowicz_x000B_Creatures of a Day: Thought and Action in Thucydides by J. Peter Euben_x000B_Plato and Aristotle: The Unity Versus the Autonomy of Theory and Practice by Terence Ball Part II: Developments_x000B_Kant on Theory and Practice by Carl Raschke_x000B_Theory and Practice in Hegel and Marx: An Unfinished Dialogue by Peter Fuss_x000B_The Unity of Theory and Practice: The Science of Marx and Nietzsche by Edward Andrew Part II: Dilemmas and New Directions_x000B_Hannah Arendt: The Ambiguities of Theory and Practice by Richard J. Bernstein_x000B_Rebels, Beginners, and Buffoons: Politics as Action by Raymond L. Nichols_x000B_How People Change Themselves: The Relationship between Critical Theory and Its Audience by Brian Fay _x000B_Nine distinguished contributors - philosophers and political scientists at universities and colleges in the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia - write essays for this volume in political philosophy. The book is dedicated to the memory of Hannah Arendt, the writer and philosopher who died in 1975. The contributors discuss various aspects of the concepts of theory and practice and their interrelationship. All of the essays were written expressly for this volume. In an introduction, Professor Ball, the volume editor, notes that the essays reflect the diversity of conceptions of theory, of practice, and of their conceptual and practical interrelations, and that the contributors explore various ways and byways of approaching the age-old questions of theory and its relation to practice._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6129-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  3. Editor’s Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)
    Terence Ball

    The aphorism is apt: a theory is a “structure of intentions”¹ which cannot be separated from an intender, a thinker whose creation the theory is. What is always intended is that we view the world in a new way and from a different perspective. After all, to theorize meant originally to see—literally at first and later metaphorically (as in Plato’s “seeing with the mind’s eye”).² Theorizing, then, is the relationship between an observing subject and the object of scrutiny. This relationship has itself been viewed in various ways and from different perspectives. Conceptions of theory, of practice, and of...

  4. Part I: Origins

    • I On the History of Theory and Praxis
      (pp. 13-27)
      Nicholas Lobkowicz

      Let me begin with a brief explanation of the structure of my essay. In the first section I sketch the two most important contexts in which theory and praxis were discussed in antiquity. In the second section I take up two problems that were discussed in antiquity in both these contexts: the primacy of theory over praxis and the impossibility of scientizing praxis. In further remarks I attempt to show how it has come about that the nature of the problem today is radically different than in antiquity. In a short final section I present a few thoughts concerning what...

    • II Creatures of a Day: Thought and Action in Thucydides
      (pp. 28-56)
      J. Peter Euben

      The proper relation between theory and practice has become almost as prominent a concern outside the academy as in it. The contrasts between what is said (or promised) and what is done (or fulfilled), between what is “in theory” (or ideally or formally so) and what is “in practice” (really and actually the case), are familiar to all. They were already present in the revolutionary period, when the promise of America as a land of political liberty and virtue was defined in contrast to the corruption that had overtaken the English Constitution. It was then the hope that such contrasts...

    • III Plato and Aristotle: The Unity versus the Autonomy of Theory and Practice
      (pp. 57-70)
      Terence Ball

      The history of philosophy is rewritten in every generation, with the contrast between philosophers drawn and highlighted in different ways. Rewriting that history from the perspective afforded by its own problems and concerns, each generation has its own Plato, its own Aristotle. In the recent past, when it was fashionable to say that political theory had been laid to rest by modern social science, Plato was viewed as the prototype of the “traditional,” “speculative,” or “normative” theorist and Aristotle as the exemplar of the social-scientific virtues of hardheadedness and empirical-mindedness.¹ This view I believe to be mistaken. My aim in...

  5. Part II. Developments

    • IV Kant on Theory and Practice
      (pp. 73-96)
      Carl Raschke

      Kant’s moral and political philosophy has incurred its fair share of polemical misinterpretation and abuse within the past two centuries; but perhaps no greater mischief in the chronicle of critical scholarship has been wrought than the Marxian reproach that Kant divorces theory from practice. Indeed, Marxists for generations have touted their philosophical method as bridging finally and incontrovertibly the theory/practice dichotomy; and thus they have tended to malign or caricature earlier schools of thought, which may have arrived at similar, though less refined, insights, as perhaps “bourgeois” or “unscientific” in tenor. The historical defamation of Kant, of course, originates in...

    • V Theory and Practice in Hegel and Marx: An Unfinished Dialogue
      (pp. 97-116)
      Peter Fuss

      Few men have attended to the perplexities of the relationship between theory and practice with as much deliberation and intellectual vigor as did Hegel and Marx. Since the two men were not contemporaries; since there is a widespread belief that, at least so far as the relation between theory and practice is concerned, Marx surely had the last word over his “speculative idealist” predecessor; and since I consider this belief to be quite mistaken, I propose to conduct a thought experiment in which some of the perplexities of theory and practice besetting Hegel and Marx are examined rather more in...

    • VI The Unity of Theory and Practice: The Science of Marx and Nietzsche
      (pp. 117-138)
      Edward Andrew

      The writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche are usually held to be radically dissimilar, both in content and form. Marx was a socialist and Nietzsche an opponent of socialism. Also Marx is thought to be heir to the rationalistic tradition of modern science whereas Nietzsche is considered a critic of scientific methodology and a progenitor of irrationalism or antinomian existentialism. Yet, from Georges Sorel to the New Left, Marx and Nietzsche have been hailed as theorists of action and have jointly been held to be the prime spokesman for the politics of praxis.

      The reason for merging the seemingly...

  6. Part III: Dilemmas and New Directions

    • VII Hannah Arendt: The Ambiguities of Theory and Practice
      (pp. 141-158)
      Richard J. Bernstein

      The nature and the role of political theory has been and continues to be one of the deepest and most troubling intellectual perplexities of our time. We can almost date this perplexity from the time of Marx’s ambiguous and controversial thesis, “The philosophers have interpreted the world only, the point is to change it.” We know that Marx was not a mindless activist, nor was this a call for uninformed action. He was—to the end of his life—ruthless in his criticism of those who were ready to man the barricades without a proper comprehension or theoretical understanding of...

    • VIII Rebels, Beginners, and Buffoons: Politics as Action
      (pp. 159-199)
      Raymond L. Nichols

      In his effort to grapple with the continuing slaughter of our century, Camus is archetypal. His superb reflections on rebellion are essential to our topic — and to our times. For both theory and practice, we must see where we are in order to see what it means to go elsewhere. And in the midst of an activistic era, the investigation of revolt assumes paramount importance. Many men, protesting outraged innocence, feel driven to say “no”; many agonize over the possible outcomes of acting.

      But innocence and action both have many faces; and murder is not the only question their...

    • IX How People Change Themselves: The Relationship between Critical Theory and Its Audience
      (pp. 200-234)
      Brian Fay

      Max Weber was certainly correct in characterizing modern life in terms of the self-conscious spread of zweckrational action. The relationship between theory and practice has assumed in industrial society a distinctly instrumentalist nature, and engineering has come to embody our conception of how knowledge can guide our actions, not only in the natural world but also in our medical practices, political institutions, and dealings with the psychological states of others and even ourselves. And no matter what the causes of this process are, living as we do in a world which depends on, and is dedicated to promoting, our ability...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 237-270)
  8. The Contributors
    (pp. 273-274)
  9. Name Index
    (pp. 277-278)
  10. Subject Index
    (pp. 279-281)