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Voices in Conversation: Philosophy and Politics in the Work of Michael Oakeshott

Steven A. Gerencser
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 57, No. 3 (Aug., 1995), pp. 724-742
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2960190
Page Count: 19
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Voices in Conversation: Philosophy and Politics in the Work of Michael Oakeshott
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Abstract

It is commonplace to suggest that Michael Oakeshott maintained a strict separation of philosophy from politics throughout his work. I challenge this prevailing view by suggesting that Oakeshott abandoned his early idealism on which the strict separation was based. I argue instead that from the 1940s onward, Oakeshott cautiously conceived of a more contingent and open relationship for theory and practice. This relationship is best typified by his adoption of the image of voices in conversation. Finally, I suggest that this understanding of Oakeshott's skeptical and ironical character lends support to Richard Rorty's appropriations of Oakeshott as a fellow "liberal ironist."

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