Politics and the Concept of the Political : The Political Imagination book cover
1st Edition

Politics and the Concept of the Political
The Political Imagination

ISBN 9781138185821
Published June 7, 2016 by Routledge
310 Pages

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Book Description

A recent trend in contemporary western political theory is to criticize it for implicitly trying to "conquer," "displace" or "moralize" politics. James Wiley’s book takes the "next step," from criticizing contemporary political theory, to showing what a more "politics-centered" political theory would look like by exploring the meaning and value of politics in the writings of Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, Paul Ricoeur, Hannah Arendt, Sheldon Wolin, Claude Lefort, and Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. These political theorists all use the concept of "the political" to explain the value of politics and defend it from its detractors. They represent state-centered, republic-centered and society-centered conceptions of politics, as well as realist, authoritarian, idealist, republican, populist and radical democratic traditions of political thought. This book compares these theorists and traditions of "the political" in order to defend politics from its critics and to contribute to the development of a politics-centered political theory.

Politics and the Concept of the Political will be a useful resource to general audiences as well as to specialists in political theory.

Table of Contents

1. The Status of Politics and the Political

Part I: The State

2.Realism: Weber

3.Absolutism, Fascism and Authoritarianism: Schmitt

4. Idealism: Ricoeur

Part II: The Polis

5. Public and Private, Self and World: Arendt

6. The Social, the Political and Democracy: Wolin

Part III: Society

7. Economics, Culture and the Political: Lefort, Laclau and Mouffe

8. Theories of the Political, Political Theory and Politics

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James Wiley has a Ph.D. in Political Theory from The Johns Hopkins University and has taught political theory and political science at the University of Rhode Island, Western Michigan University, the University of Delaware, St. Norbert College, the University of North Florida, John Carroll University, and the College of Wooster. He is the author of Theory and Practice in the Philosophy of David Hume (Palgrave Macmillan 2012).



This book is an ambitious attempt to correct political theory that aims to "overcome" politics by subordinating it to something else, like moral theory. Instead, Wiley suggests that the accounts of "the political" offered by a number of theorists, including Weber, Wolin, and Mouffe, show how to articulate a "politics-centered" political theory. These theorists together present multiple conceptions of "the political" based in either the state, the polis, or society, and each account allows for a non-subordinate relationship between politics and ethics or philosophy. (Wiley identifies these relationships as "asymmetrical," but does not get much mileage out of the term.) By "putting politics back in" to political theory, Wiley generates a number of wide-ranging practical implications, from countering International Relations theorists' myopic focus on the state to cataloging 19th-century populism's move from an economic to a political perspective on the economy. Theorists and political scientists alike may quibble with these kind of arguments in the book—and there are many of them—but overall, Wiley presents an important model of how to connect political theory to the rest of the discipline. Put another way, the book may not have much to offer social scientists uninterested in high-level theorizing, but is essential reading for political theorists. Summing Up: Essential. Graduate Students and Faculty' - R. J. Meagher, Randolph-Macon College, CHOICE

'This book establishes a much-needed line of communication between broadly postmodern theories of politics and the new political realism.' – Enzo Rossi, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands