Political Theory and the Enlarged Mentality: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Political Theory and the Enlarged Mentality

1st Edition

By Stephen Acreman


116 pages

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In this book, Stephen Acreman follows the development and reception of a hitherto under-analyzed concept central to modern and postmodern political theory: the Kantian ein erweiterte Denkungsart, or enlarged mentality.

While the enlarged mentality plays a major role in a number of key texts underpinning contemporary democratic theory, including works by Arendt, Gadamer, Habermas, and Lyotard, this is the first in-depth study of the concept encompassing and bringing together its full range of expressions. A number of attempts to place the enlarged mentality at the service of particular ideals–the politics of empathy, of consensus, of agonistic contest, or of moral righteousness–are challenged and redirected. In its exploration of the enlarged mentality, the book asks what it means to assume a properly political stance, and, in giving as the answer ‘facing reality together’, it uncovers a political theory attentive to the facts and events that concern us, and uniquely well suited to the ecological politics of our time.


'An original and compelling interpretation of Kant’s ‘enlarged mentality’ in which the world – and not ‘the other’ – unsettles pre-given conceptual understandings and demands that we face reality together. Attentive to how publics gather around things that resist convention and to the pressing need for differently situated stories to ensure that the force of things is felt and accounted for, Acreman offers what is most urgently needed for our age: political theory that is earthbound.' - Bruce Braun, University of Minnesota

Table of Contents

1. The Enlarged Mentality in Kant’s Third Critique

1.1 ‘Subjective universality’ and the Kantian aesthetic

1.2 The ‘enlarged mentality’ as a collective epistemology

1.3 Politicizing disinterested pleasure

1.4 The object in reflective judgement

2. The Enlarged Mentality in Political Theory

2.1 Readings of the Sensus Communis

2.2 Hannah Arendt and the political relevance of enlarged thought

2.3 Arendt’s Aristotelian sensus communis

2.4 Sociability and the cultivation of taste

2.5 The merging of spectatorship and action

2.6 Arendt’s critique of Kant

2.7 The balance of spectatorship and action in a healthy public sphere

2.8 Storytelling and the perspective of the world

3. Judging from the perspective of the world

3.1 Enlargement versus consensus

3.2 Enlargement versus public morality

3.3 Enlargement versus agonism

3.4 Enlargement versus empathy

4. An Enlarged Mentality for the present: facing reality together

4.1 Arendt’s phenomenological heritage

4.2 The Human Condition and the world ‘in-between’

4.3 Beyond Arendt’s critique of modernity

4.4 World alienation and populating the space between men

4.5 Postphenomenology

5. Conclusion

About the Author

Stephen Acreman is a Teaching Fellow at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia and a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Stephen received his Ph.D. in Political Theory from Monash University, Australia. His research interests are in the history of political and social thought, with a focus on political ecology.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Democratic Theory

Advisory Board: Amy Allen (Penn State University), Benjamin Barber (City University of New York), Rajeev Bhargava (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies), David Chandler (University of Westminster), Fred Dallmayr (University of Notre Dame), John Keane (University of Sydney), James R. Martel (San Francisco State University), Chantal Mouffe (University of Westminster), Davide Panagia (UCLA), Bhikhu Parekh (House of Lords), and Nadia Urbinati (Columbia University)

Democracy is being re-thought almost everywhere today: with the widespread questioning of the rationalist assumptions of classical liberalism, and the implications this has for representational competition; with the Arab Spring, destabilizing many assumptions about the geographic spread of democracy; with the deficits of democracy apparent in the Euro-zone crisis, especially as it affects the management of budget deficits; with democracy increasingly understand as a process of social empowerment and equalization, blurring the lines of division between formal and informal spheres; and with growing demands for democracy to be reformulated to include the needs of those currently marginalized or even to include the representation of non-human forms of life with whom we share our planet.

Routledge Advances in Democratic Theory publishes state of the art theoretical reflection on the problems and prospects of democratic theory when many of the traditional categories and concepts are being reworked and rethought in our globalized and complex times.

The series is published in cooperation with the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, London, UK.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Political