Political Philosophy In the Moment : Narratives of Freedom from Plato to Arendt book cover
1st Edition

Political Philosophy In the Moment
Narratives of Freedom from Plato to Arendt

ISBN 9780367199166
Published May 7, 2019 by Routledge
198 Pages

USD $49.95

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Book Description

Political Philosophy In the Moment uncovers the political power of narrative by both telling and explaining the stories that frame our ability to be "in the moment."

In a series of eleven short stories, Jim Josefson presents the history of political philosophy and Hannah Arendt’s alternative, an aesthetic form of politics. In the early stories, Josefson recounts how the four main traditions of political philosophy (Platonism, Aristotelianism, liberalism and historicism) promise truth but deny us the freedom available in reality. Then, he reviews the alternative narratives offered by thinkers like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Heidegger, which influenced Arendt’s view. The final chapters chart Arendt’s route back to the Moment, the freedom to read and tell a fuller story about the beauty and horrors that appear in the world.

A page-turning book of short stories and a tour through the greatest works of political philosophy, Political Philosophy In the Moment is as approachable, comprehensible and welcoming as a fairy-tale, ideally suited for students of contemporary political theory and anyone interested in political thought.

Table of Contents


1. The Unbearable Lightness of Being 

2. The Tambourine Man and the Tinker 

3. Being in the Momentary 

4. Phenomenology of the Undead 

5. Report by John Deere 

6. Thus Woke Sara Thurston

 7. The Fountainhead and the Spring 

8. The Pass, the Ground, the Clearing 

9. The Stroller and the Great Disaster 

10. The Beaten Path of Thought 

11. The Return

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Jim Josefson is Associate Professor of Political Science at Bridgewater College. Josefson received his Ph.D. from the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University. His publications have appeared in Philosophy & Social Criticism, Party Politics, PS: Political Science & Politics and Justice et Injustice Spatiales. Josefson defends his reading of Arendt further in the forthcoming book Hannah Arendt’s Aesthetic Politics: Freedom & the Beautiful.


"This is a book full of wisdom, a rare achievement nowadays. And a book full of beauty, written in the best style of philosophical literature. Convinced that ‘philosophy is only reading and telling stories,’ Jim Josefson does precisely that and does it very well. Every philosopher he talks about raises from the ‘icy abstraction’ of the contemporary academic discourse and revives in the light of his or her unique moment, even if some of them – most notably Plato – devoted all their thought to oppose the ephemeral nature of time. Yet, when read through the lenses of the ‘philosophy of the moment,’ inspired by Hannah Arendt, even the monumental Plato appears as an existential thinker telling the story of his own unique revelation, his own ‘moment of beauty.’ For it is only in the experience of beauty that, as Arendt says, being and appearance truly coincide and the transcendence reveals itself not in some unreachable ‘beyond,’ but here and now, in the splendor of the grass and beauty of the flower. Arendt’s great agon with Plato, which Jim Josefson elucidates with impressive elegance and clarity, forms a canvas for his unique presentation of the major figures of Western thought through fictional stories: Aristotle, Locke, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Jaspers, Heidegger, and Benjamin. Bringing them all to the moment of our times, this book will be very useful for all teachers of philosophy who, following Socrates, still try to ‘corrupt the youth’ and seduce it with beauty leading to the ‘love of wisdom.’"Agata Bielik-Robson, Professor of Jewish Studies, Theology & Religious Studies, University of Nottingham

"In his highly original and innovative collection of short stories and interpretive essays, Jim Josefson (2019) portrays Hannah Arendt through the contours of her intellectual sources. Josefson relays political philosophy through fictional narrative to bring the reader into "the moment." This is achieved by representing core insights and problematics of political thinkers through the aesthetic and imaginary lens of fictional short stories that transcend time and space. The reader enters the story and brings it to life through reading it. The reader is invited to "move around particular characters and events" (2) and to be part of the story even if as an external observer. Rather than present secondary analysis of how Arendt’s ideas developed through various sources and influences, we learn about her political philosophy through fiction. However, after each story, the author switches to his non-fictional voice to explain the political theory the story represents. These concise and easy to follow short afterwords present useful pedagogical tools for students." Arendt Studies