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Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought - Expanded Edition

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought - Expanded Edition

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    This book is my education in political thinking. Mr. Wolin generously shares his wealth of understanding in this tome which sometimes reads like a textbook but more often (I think) reads like an investigation.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    I'm a little dismayed I didn't learn about this a long time ago, when I was discovering some of the classic texts (e.g., The Lonely Crowd or The Organization Man .) I just found it via the author's obituary: Sheldon S. Wolin, 93, Political Theorist Who Saw Limits of Popular Democracy, Dies. From that obit:❝“Politics and Vision,” subtitled “Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought,” appeared at a time when American political science was under the sway of the behavioralist revoluti I'm a little dismayed I didn't learn about this a long time ago, when I was discovering some of the classic texts (e.g., The Lonely Crowd or The Organization Man .) I just found it via the author's obituary: Sheldon S. Wolin, 93, Political Theorist Who Saw Limits of Popular Democracy, Dies. From that obit:❝“Politics and Vision,” subtitled “Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought,” appeared at a time when American political science was under the sway of the behavioralist revolution, which emphasized the quantitative analysis of data rather than political ideas as a way to explain political behavior. Professor Wolin, then teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, galvanized the profession by gathering key political philosophers, beginning with the Greeks, in a grand debate on democracy and examining their ideas not as historical artifacts, but as a way to criticize current political structures. “The book revitalized political theory by making its history relevant to an analysis of the present,” Nicholas Xenos, a student of Professor Wolin’s and a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, wrote in an email. “It challenged the behavioralists, for whom history was increasingly irrelevant. It also provided a way to criticize the present using the concepts and vocabulary that since antiquity had sustained concern for what he called ‘the possibilities of collectivity, common action and shared purposes.’ ” In 1985, the American Political Science Association honored the book with the Benjamin E. Lippincott Award in recognition of its lasting impact. It was reissued in expanded form in 2004.❞It appears to be quite appropriate to study today.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Murray

    Sheldon Wolin’s Politics and Vision is easily one of the most substantial books I’ve ever read. Correspondingly, it is also one of the most insightful. Wolin presents a comparison and analysis of an entire tradition of thought; weaving a cohesive history of ideas through political philosophy from Plato to …well… his own [2004]. In so doing he explicates, with sagacity, dozens of thinkers. Along the way, he raises discerning questions of their roles in the tradition, as well as reflecting on the Sheldon Wolin’s Politics and Vision is easily one of the most substantial books I’ve ever read. Correspondingly, it is also one of the most insightful. Wolin presents a comparison and analysis of an entire tradition of thought; weaving a cohesive history of ideas through political philosophy from Plato to …well… his own [2004]. In so doing he explicates, with sagacity, dozens of thinkers. Along the way, he raises discerning questions of their roles in the tradition, as well as reflecting on the cohesion of their theories. He ends, famously, advancing his own theory of the US as an ‘inverted totalitarian’ state. This is a remarkable work for many reasons. Firstly, perhaps most importantly for this review, this is a work of outstanding insight to all kinds of readers. Having studied philosophy for many years now I learned an enormous amount. However, Wolin is completely accessible in language and explanation to make this a rewarding introduction as well. Secondly, to this later point, Wolin makes easy work of, at times, confusing theories and systems. His writing is clear and precise. Thirdly, substance. This outstanding work was created in two parts, across 40 years, major political changes, a successful academic career, and the writing of many other impressive works in their own right. After all this Wolin’s theory at the end of Politics and Vision is resonant with our time, and offers a deeply important challenge to the next generation of thinkers and actors. It is, all by itself, worth reading 570 pages of ‘introduction.’

  4. 5 out of 5

    Don Braun

    If you think the book is good, you should have heard his lectures at Cal. Because I refer to PaV, so frequently, the old book is worn and should be rebound. I was just reading a section on Augustine. I scribbled a quick question in the margin, two paragraphs later I had my answer integrated with a more comprehensive view of whatever I was checking. This was not the first time that happened when reading PaV. The book and one's background generate questions. Wolin seems to anticipate said questions If you think the book is good, you should have heard his lectures at Cal. Because I refer to PaV, so frequently, the old book is worn and should be rebound. I was just reading a section on Augustine. I scribbled a quick question in the margin, two paragraphs later I had my answer integrated with a more comprehensive view of whatever I was checking. This was not the first time that happened when reading PaV. The book and one's background generate questions. Wolin seems to anticipate said questions and answers them precisely and with context. Other than his outstanding lectures, I recall his care for his students. I thought and think him a giant.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Geraldine Powell

    I read about a third of this. It was interesting and informative but the print was so small it gave me headaches. And that was with my glasses on. I didn't want to but I had to give it up. I read about a third of this. It was interesting and informative but the print was so small it gave me headaches. And that was with my glasses on. I didn't want to but I had to give it up.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jon Buck

    One of the greatest modern political works. The expanded edition is superb, providing Wolin's pessimistic view of the future of politics after the disturbing rise of corporate power and increasingly "inverted totalitarian" system of the late 20th and early 21st century. One of the greatest modern political works. The expanded edition is superb, providing Wolin's pessimistic view of the future of politics after the disturbing rise of corporate power and increasingly "inverted totalitarian" system of the late 20th and early 21st century.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michael Stenovec

    Eat your vegetables

  8. 4 out of 5

    Douglas

    Absolutely stunningly beautiful. He manages to tour several thousand years of political theory. I've never seen anything this erudite before. Absolutely stunningly beautiful. He manages to tour several thousand years of political theory. I've never seen anything this erudite before.

  9. 4 out of 5

    WutsGucciMagilla?

    The best at what it sets out to do.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristofer Petersen-Overton

    Magisterial. The breadth of Wolin's knowledge spanning the history of Western political thought is formidable. Not only is this book a highly readable history of the evolution of political theory, but it's also a great work of original theory in its own right, offering thoughtful analysis and insight in each chapter. The 2004 update is not quite as refined as the original half of the book, but it's still a remarkable text. I spent a lot of time reading and rereading it as a secondary source in p Magisterial. The breadth of Wolin's knowledge spanning the history of Western political thought is formidable. Not only is this book a highly readable history of the evolution of political theory, but it's also a great work of original theory in its own right, offering thoughtful analysis and insight in each chapter. The 2004 update is not quite as refined as the original half of the book, but it's still a remarkable text. I spent a lot of time reading and rereading it as a secondary source in preparation for my first doctoral exam in political theory.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tad

    Covers pretty much the entire western history of political theory. it begins with an introduction to political theory and philosophy, and then proceeds to explain and interpret the tradition of western political theory and philosophy from the ancient Greeks to post-modernism. it is quite illuminating for serious students of political philosophy, and lets the average reader come in contact with the methods and subject matter of political theory itself. toward the end of the book sheldon offers a Covers pretty much the entire western history of political theory. it begins with an introduction to political theory and philosophy, and then proceeds to explain and interpret the tradition of western political theory and philosophy from the ancient Greeks to post-modernism. it is quite illuminating for serious students of political philosophy, and lets the average reader come in contact with the methods and subject matter of political theory itself. toward the end of the book sheldon offers a critical diagnosis of american demoracy which he expands upon in his new book Democracy Inc.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Daniel

    In this book, Wolin goes over different "eras" of political theory and provides an interesting view for each of them. Areas covered include Plato, the early Christian era, Calvin, liberalsm, Machiavelli, and much more. Overall this is a great book, if you are interested in this subject. If you are not, it would be difficult to get through, as Wolin can get quite wordy. In this book, Wolin goes over different "eras" of political theory and provides an interesting view for each of them. Areas covered include Plato, the early Christian era, Calvin, liberalsm, Machiavelli, and much more. Overall this is a great book, if you are interested in this subject. If you are not, it would be difficult to get through, as Wolin can get quite wordy.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rabia Otry

    Difficult read but definitely worth the struggle. It is life changing to read about postmodernism and how true politics is disappearing for something we mistakenly call politics. My eyes have been opened and I'm thirsty for more! Difficult read but definitely worth the struggle. It is life changing to read about postmodernism and how true politics is disappearing for something we mistakenly call politics. My eyes have been opened and I'm thirsty for more!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katrinka

    BRILLIANT.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Informative, but dull.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Henderson

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jesús Dávila

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hugh

  20. 4 out of 5

    Yadira

  21. 4 out of 5

    Agustín Valdez

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chris Ingham

  23. 4 out of 5

    Douglas

  24. 4 out of 5

    ForSureNotSangwon

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fabiola Rivera (Amrit Sukhmani Kaur)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Travis Stanley

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael Greer

  30. 4 out of 5

    Raul Ruiz

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