Michael Oakeshott

Early Political Writings 1925–30

Michael Oakeshott (1901–90) made his reputation as a political philosopher, but for a long time it seemed as if he had little interest in politics before 1945. His major pre-war work, Experience and its Modes (1933) was an examination of the nature of philosophy and its relation to other forms of thought that made almost no mention of politics. However, it has become increasingly clear that this initial judgment was misleading. A posthumous collection of early essays, Religion, Politics, and the Moral Life (1993), proved that political philosophy was a lifelong concern. Nevertheless, the belief that Oakeshott was relatively uninterested in politics, at least in the 1920s, has persisted. This volume dispels that notion for good. It contains two previously unpublished works, a manuscript entitled 'A Discussion of some Matters preliminary to the Study of Political Philosophy', and the first version of a course of lectures on 'The Philosophical Approach to Politics' that Oakeshott gave between 1928 and 1930. These works establish that politics was a central concern in the first decade of his intellectual career, and show beyond any doubt that the ideas of Experience and its Modes actually grew out of Oakeshott's prior philosophical interest in politics.
412 printed pages
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