The purpose of this workshop is to pursue discussions revolving around Ronald Beiner’s 2014 book, Political Philosophy: What It Is and Why It Matters (Cambridge University Press). What is political philosophy?
Beiner’s book proposes an answer to this question – theory in the most ambitious sense is reflection on the ends of life in dialogue with competing views of the highest human ends – and it seeks to defend that answer by considering how leading thinkers of the 20th century live up to his conception of the theory enterprise.
Beiner presents twelve theorists whom he believes count as exemplary political philosophers: Hannah Arendt, Michael Oakeshott, Leo Strauss, Karl Löwith, Eric Voegelin, Simone Weil, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jürgen Habermas, Michel Foucault, Alasdair MacIntyre, John Rawls, and Richard Rorty.
What lasting insights are supplied by these twelve thinkers? And is the business of “grand theorizing” in which they participated still a living enterprise? Above all, does this tradition of epic theorizing have a future? Do these theorists fulfill the intellectual standards they sought to satisfy, and how can we come to better understand ourselves as human beings by participating in a sustained dialogue among these towering thinkers? These are the big questions that Beiner’s workshop hopes to address.