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Politics and Vision:
Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought
Expanded Edition
Sheldon S. Wolin

Winner of the 2006 David and Elaine Spitz Prize, Conference for the Study of Political Thought

Paperback | 2004 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691126272
Hardcover | 2004 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691119779


This is a significantly expanded edition of one of the greatest works of modern political theory. Sheldon Wolin's Politics and Vision inspired and instructed two generations of political theorists after its appearance in 1960. This new edition retains intact the original ten chapters about political thinkers from Plato to Mill, and adds seven chapters about theorists from Marx and Nietzsche to Rawls and the postmodernists. The new chapters, which show how thinkers have grappled with the immense possibilities and dangers of modern power, are themselves a major theoretical statement. They culminate in Wolin's remarkable argument that the United States has invented a new political form, "inverted totalitarianism," in which economic rather than political power is dangerously dominant. In this new edition, the book that helped to define political theory in the late twentieth century should energize, enlighten, and provoke generations of scholars to come.

Wolin originally wrote Politics and Vision to challenge the idea that political analysis should consist simply of the neutral observation of objective reality. He argues that political thinkers must also rely on creative vision. Wolin shows that great theorists have been driven to shape politics to some vision of the Good that lies outside the existing political order. As he tells it, the history of theory is thus, in part, the story of changing assumptions about the Good.

In the new chapters, Wolin displays all the energy and flair, the command of detail and of grand historical developments, that he brought to this story forty years ago. This is a work of immense talent and intense thought, an intellectual achievement that will endure.


"[T]he original edition . . . provided the most impressive synoptic interpretation of politics by any recent Western thinker. Measured, assured, and resolutely independent, it was also wonderfully lacking in self-importance. . . . [T]hat first book remains just as illuminating and every bit as imposing; but it is now accompanied by a second and very different book. . . . Its message is chilling: . . . that politics itself, in its generous Western understanding, is well on the way to being eliminated from the experience of human beings. Each of these books is a remarkable achievement."--John Dunn, Times Higher Education Supplement


"Sheldon Wolin is our premier contemporary theorist of engaged democracy. This expanded edition of Politics and Vision offers an extraordinarily comprehensive and acute account of the encounter between philosophy and political power, from classical Greece to the postmodern era of Superpower. The new edition demonstrates the power of Wolin's original enterprise by bringing it into constructive relationship with Marx, Nietzsche, and Dewey, and with political philosophy since Rawls. Essential reading for anyone concerned with the possibilities of politics in the twenty-first century."--Josiah Ober, Princeton University, author of The Athenian Revolution and Political Dissent in Democratic Athens

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