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Oakeshott's Hobbesian Myth: Pride, Character and the Limits of Reason

Bruce P. Frohnen
The Western Political Quarterly
Vol. 43, No. 4 (Dec., 1990), pp. 789-809
DOI: 10.2307/448736
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/448736
Page Count: 21
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Oakeshott's Hobbesian Myth: Pride, Character and the Limits of Reason
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Abstract

Taking philosophical skepticism to its limit, Michael Oakeshott questions both the coherence of noncontextual thought and the primary role of reason itself in making sense of the world around us. Unrecognized in the literature on Oakeshott is the moral prescription arising from his skepticism; a prescription embodied in the life and character of the man of self-respecting, proper pride. Accepting the horizons set by the given myth, the good man disdains communal attachments in favor of the independent pursuit of personal goals — goals which may not be summed up, or even examined, in purely rational terms. By arguing that we must accept the collective dream which is our civilization, Oakeshott attempts to offer an alternative to both utopian blueprints and the chaos of a life in which myths are destroyed in the interests of a freedom he considers illusory.

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