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Politics and the Search for the Common Good


  • 3 b/w illus. 2 tables
  • Page extent: 272 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.39 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9781107671133)

Rethinking politics in a new vocabulary, Hans Sluga challenges the firmly held assumption that there exists a single common good which politics is meant to realize. He argues that politics is not a natural but a historical phenomenon, and not a single thing but a multiplicity of political forms and values only loosely related. He contrasts two traditions in political philosophy: a 'normative theorizing' that extends from Plato to John Rawls and a newer 'diagnostic practice' that emerged with Marx and Nietzsche and has found its three most prominent twentieth-century practitioners in Carl Schmitt, Hannah Arendt, and Michel Foucault. He then examines the sources of diagnostic political thinking, analyzes its achievements, and offers a critical assessment of its limitations. His important book will be of interest to a wide range of upper-level students and scholars in political philosophy, political theory, and the history of ideas.

• Advances a new account of politics and political theorizing • Examines the contrasting traditions of normative and diagnostic political philosophy • Provides a critical assessment of important political philosophers such as Carl Schmitt, Hannah Arendt, and Michel Foucault


Introduction; Preface; Part I. The Search for the Common Good: Beyond the Normative and the Natural: 1. From normative theory to diagnostic practice; 2. The failings of political naturalism; 3. The historization of politics; 4. 'The time is coming when we will have to relearn about politics'; Part II. Three Diagnostic Thinkers in Pursuit of the Common Good: 5. Carl Schmitt: 'all essential concepts are not normative but existential'; 6. Hannah Arendt: 'does politics still have a meaning?'; 7. Michel Foucault: 'could you define the sense you give the word 'political'?'; Part III. The Fragility of the Common Good: 8. 'A fundamental change in political paradigms'; 9. Politics as a domain of uncertainty; Bibliography; Index.


'The current standing of politics and politicians is low, citizens are disaffected and disengaged, and much writing on politics is empty and abstract. In this important new study Hans Sluga reflects on the nature of politics, and how we might reach a better understanding of it as 'the care of the common'. It is a compelling read.' Andrew Gamble, University of Cambridge

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