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Politics and the Imagination
Raymond Geuss

Paperback | 2009 | $32.95 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691142289
216 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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In politics, utopians do not have a monopoly on imagination. Even the most conservative defenses of the status quo, Raymond Geuss argues, require imaginative acts of some kind. In this collection of recent essays, including his most overtly political writing yet, Geuss explores the role of imagination in politics, particularly how imaginative constructs interact with political reality. He uses decisions about the war in Iraq to explore the peculiar ways in which politicians can be deluded and citizens can misunderstand their leaders. He also examines critically what he sees as one of the most serious delusions of western political thinking--the idea that a human society is always best conceived as a closed system obeying fixed rules. And, in essays on Don Quixote, museums, Celan's poetry, Heidegger's brother Fritz, Richard Rorty, and bourgeois philosophy, Geuss reflects on how cultural artifacts can lead us to embrace or reject conventional assumptions about the world. While paying particular attention to the relative political roles played by rule-following, utilitarian calculations of interest, and aspirations to lead a collective life of a certain kind, Geuss discusses a wide range of related issues, including the distance critics need from their political systems, the extent to which history can enlighten politics, and the possibility of utopian thinking in a world in which action retains its urgency.


"[A] terrific collection. . . . Philosophy fails, writes Geuss, mostly by being unhistorical; he makes the case for understanding politics only in a richly articulated historical context."--Brendan Boyle, BookForum

"[A] miniature classic worthy of strenuous rereading."--Fred Inglis, Times Higher Education


"These terrific essays confirm Raymond Geuss's status as one of the most thoughtful, honest, careful, original, and politically engaged philosophers of our time. Displaying Geuss's rich erudition in European languages, history, literature, art, and music, and his unique capacity to use philosophy to illuminate current political conundrums, these essays are attuned both to the most delicate dimensions of human experience and subjectivity and the cruder phenomena of war, planetary collapse, party politics, and bourgeois complacency. This is a rich and wonderful book."--Wendy Brown, University of California, Berkeley

"These essays are elegant and erudite, as well as unfailingly insightful and interesting. A very fine collection."--Daniel Brudney, University of Chicago

Table of Contents:

Preface vii
Acknowledgments xv
CHAPTER I: Political Judgment in Its Historical Context 1
CHAPTER II: The Politics of Managing Decline 17
CHAPTER III: Moralism and Realpolitik 31
CHAPTER IV: On the Very Idea of a Metaphysics of Right 43
CHAPTER V: The Actual and Another Modernity Order and Imagination in Don Quixote 61
CHAPTER VI: Culture as Ideal and as Boundary 81
CHAPTER VII: On Museums 96
CHAPTER VIII: Celan's Meridian 117
CHAPTER IX: Heidegger and His Brother 142
CHAPTER X Richard Rorty at Princeton Personal Recollections 151
CHAPTER XI: Melody as Death 164
CHAPTER XII: On Bourgeois Philosophy and the Concept of "Criticism" 167
Bibliography 187
Index 193

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