Monday, August 27, 2012

New Book: "Under Weber's Shadow"

Under Weber’s Shadow
Modernity, Subjectivity and Politics in Habermas, Arendt and MacIntyre

by Keith Breen

(Ashgate, 2012)

264 pages



Under Weber's Shadow presents an extended critical evaluation of the social and political thought of Jürgen Habermas, Hannah Arendt and Alasdair MacIntyre. Although hailing from very different philosophical traditions, these theorists all take as their starting-point Max Weber's seminal diagnosis of late modernity, the view that the world-historic processes of rationalization and disenchantment are paradoxical in promising freedom yet threatening servitude under the 'iron cage' of instrumental reason. However, each rejects his pessimistic understanding of the grounds and possibilities of political life, accusing him of complicity in the very realities he sought to resist. Seeking to move beyond Weber's monological view of the self, his subjectivism and his identification of the political with domination, they offer alternative, intersubjective conceptions of the subject, ethics and politics that allow for positive future possibilities. But this incontrovertible gain, it is argued, comes at the cost of depoliticizing key arenas of human endeavour and of neglecting the reality of struggle and contestation

Contents [pdf]

Introduction [pdf]

1. Modernity, Politics and Max Weber

Part I: Jürgen Habermas and the Project of Modernity

2. One-sided Rationalization: Habermas on Modernity, Discourse and Emancipation
3. Critiquing Habermas: Intersubjectivity, Ethics and Norm-Free Sociality

Part II: Hannah Arendt and the Promise of Politics

4. The Burden of Our Times: Arendt on Modern Oblivion and the Promise of Politics
5. Judging Arendt: Citizenship, Action and the Scope of Politics

Part III: Alasdair MacIntyre and the Politics of Virtue

6. The New Dark Age: MacIntyre on Bureaucratic Individualism and the Hope for an Ethical Polity
7. Engaging MacIntyre: Flourishing, Modernity and Political Struggle

8. Closing Reflections: Ethics, Politics and Strategy in the Present

"Based on a breathtaking reconstruction of the limits of Weber's vision of modernity and modern political life and of Habermas's, Arendt's and MacIntyre's various attempts to overcome these limits, Breen offers a creative and vigorous vindication of the strategic moment of politics, albeit one directed towards human flourishing and kept in check by moderation and care." - Alessandro Ferrara, University of Rome 'Tor Vergata', Italy

Keith Breen is a Lecturer in Political Theory at the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, Queen's University Belfast. He is Co-Editor (with Shane O'Neill) of "After the Nation? Critical Reflections on Nationalism and Postnationalism" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

See a review of Keith Breen's book at LSE Review of Books.

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