1st Edition

The Politics of the Soul From Nietzsche to Arendt

By John Dickson Copyright 2023

    This book takes the form of intellectual histories of eight major representative figures of the twentieth century, who inherited and responded to the spiritual problematic left by Nietzsche. With each figure offering very different ethical and spiritual positions, all shed light on what we mean when we talk confusedly around the topics of politics and religion. With portraits of Max Weber, Georg Lukács, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, George Orwell and Hannah Arendt, the author explores the "latent" content of their worldview—the moral (or immoral) intention of their intellectual project. In each of the case studies, the aim is to move toward an understanding of their ultimate values, to get at their particular picture of the soul, as well as the implications of this vision for religion and politics. As such, The Politics of the Soul will appeal to scholars of sociology and social theory, religion, philosophy, political theory and cultural studies.

    PART I: Apocalypse 1. The Nietzsche Problem: Dangerous Knowledge 2. The Last Good Liberal: Max Weber’s Pessimistic Realism 3. The Grand Hotel Abyss: Georg Lukács and the Leap of Faith  4. The Reactionary: T.S. Eliot and the Escape from The Waste Land 5. The Last Just Cause: The Auden Generation and the Spanish Civil War PART II: The Psychoanalytic Movement 6. The Destroyer of Illusions: Sigmund Freud 7. Strange Gods: C.G. Jung and the Mystic Circus PART III: The Humanist Reconstruction 8. The Need for Roots: George Orwell and Hannah Arendt; Concluding Remarks: Thinking What We Are Doing


    John Dickson is an adjunct research fellow at La Trobe University, Australia. He undertook postgraduate studies at Yale University and completed his PhD at La Trobe under the supervision of Professor John Carroll in 2014. It was titled "Strange Gods: The Crisis of Meaning After Nietzsche." He has since written several articles, including chapters in The Anthem Companion to Philip Rieff (2017) and Metaphysical Sociology: On the Work of John Carroll (2019). This is his first book.