The Anti-Pelagian Imagination in Political Theory and International Relations : Dealing in Darkness book cover
1st Edition

The Anti-Pelagian Imagination in Political Theory and International Relations
Dealing in Darkness

ISBN 9780415704144
Published March 17, 2017 by Routledge
188 Pages

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Book Description

This volume draws together some of the key works of Nicholas Rengger, focusing on the theme of the 'anti-Pelagian imagination' in political theory and international relations.

Rengger frames the collection with a detailed introduction that sketches out this 'imagination', its origins and character, and puts the chapters that follow into context with the work of other theorists, including Bull, Connolly, Gray, Strauss, Elshtain and Kant. The volume concludes with an epilogue contrasting two different ways of reading this sensibility and offering reasons for supposing one is preferable to the other.

Updating and expanding on ideas from work over the course of the last sixteen years, this collection will be of great interest to students and scholars of international relations theory, political thought and political philosophy.

Table of Contents



    1. Introduction. Dealing in Darkness? Varieties of Modern Anti-Pelagianism
    2. Progress: Kant, Mendelsohn and the Very Idea
    3. Bull: A Double Vision?
    4. Remember the Aeneid: (And Beware Greek Gifts
    5. Human Rights: Emancipation or Incarceration?
    6. Dystopic Liberalism: Realism Tamed or Liberalism Betrayed?
    7. Progress With Price?
    8. Connolly: Ambiguous Pluralism
    9. Gray: The End(s) of Progress?
    10. Strauss: The impossibility of justice
    11. Elshtain 1: Anti-Pelagian or not?
    12. Elshtain 2: Violence and the Two Sovereigns
    13. Post-Secularism: Metaphysical not Political? 
    14. Epilogue: Tragedy or Scepticism

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Nicholas Rengger is Professor of Political Theory and International Relations at St Andrews and a member of the Academia Europaea. He has held visiting appointments at Oxford, LSE and the University of Southern California and from 2011–14 was a Global Ethics Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs, New York.


'This wide ranging and learned work will establish Nicholas Rengger as one of the most impressive writers on international relations today.' - Steven B. Smith, Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science, Yale University, USA

'In open and engaging prose, Rengger offers a thorough-going study of some of the most important books that have shaped the debate on political theory and international relations. It displays a formidable intellectual grasp and the kind of moral conviction rarely found in today's academic discourse. It is a striking and sometimes dazzling commentary on what the author calls 'modern anti-Pelagianism', a lens through he looks at how writers as diverse as John Gray and Jean Bethke Elshtein have interrogated the troubles and discontents of our day.' - Christopher Coker, Professor, London School of Economics, UK

'International theory has needed regular jolts of history and philosophy to sustain its vitality: by proposing a new typology of "anti-Pelagian" thought, Nicholas Rengger has given the field another welcome shot in the arm. His wide-ranging collection of essays has something for almost everyone; they will not all agree with the argument, but he does provide substantial material for productive debate.' - David Armitage, Harvard University, USA