Political Theory

Freedom, Historicity, and Self-Knowledge


This conference examined the writings of four thinkers who took the problems of liberty and order seriously as essential questions to be approached from the historical perspective of modern social thought. The aim was to understand how individuality, the essential aspect informing the historical perspective, posed challenges not only for those who defend freedom through timeless universals, but also those who try to make relativism a foundational excuse for control, regulation, and oppression. This conference did that by treating authors who actively considered how history can reaffirm customary understandings, received values, prudential politics, and individual choice.


Conference Readings

Foucault, Michel. The Foucault Reader. Edited by Paul Rabinow. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984.

Collingwood, R. G. The Idea of History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1956.

Collingwood, R. G. An Essay on Metaphysics. Eastford: Martino Fine Books, 2014.

Collingwood, R. G. An Autobiography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978.

MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007.

Oakeshott, Michael. On Human Conduct. Oxford: Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1991 [1975].

Oakeshott, Michael., “History and the Social Sciences.” In The Social Sciences, edited by H. Butterfield, 71-81. London: LePlay House Press, 1936.

Ortega y Gasset, Jose. History as a System (and other essays toward a philosophy of history). Translated by Helen Weyl. New York: Norton, 1962.