Ernest Gellner's Contemporary Thought and Politics (Selected Philosophical PDF

By Ernest Gellner

ISBN-10: 0203009215

ISBN-13: 9780203009215

ISBN-10: 0415302978

ISBN-13: 9780415302975

Gellner's political philosophy in those volumes combines the down-to-earth realism of political sociology with a rational therapy of the normative problems with conventional political concept. In those essays Gellner strives to appreciate the religions of nationalism, communism and democracy, returning repeatedly to the fundamental values of the liberal: social tolerance, rational feedback, human decency and justice.

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Neither the poverty of Western Marxist thought, nor the social realities of Eastern Marxist societies, is denied. But Deutscher gives himself a blank cheque on the future, in which the ‘real’ social structure of the Eastern European societies will assert itself against the present distortions, and in which Marxist thought will flourish again and fulfil its destiny. That it has such a destiny to fulfil is taken for granted. What it will have to say we do not know. The logical parallel with the auto-functionalist thinkers of the Establishment is perfect.

Hence to subject it to sharp criticism would be a solecism, like criticizing a funeral oration. ’ Successful careers and reputations can be built on facile spiritual pilgrimages between these various positions—which can also be occupied simultaneously—and all held in an auto-functionalist spirit. The practitioners do not care whether those with whom they indulge in ‘dialogue’ are believers or not; they can’t really tell the difference. There isn’t one. All they want and require is that one should take the historic role of their creed solemnly and seriously.

Now that equality of opportunity may be on the horizon, the elimination of a sense of injustice turns out to be an evil rather than a boon…. Once again, it is no good either way. Of course, those who point out the evils of mere equality of opportunity perhaps wish for simple equality, without qualification. But it seems plain that if this is possible it would only be so in conjunction with fraternity. A hostile, competing set of equals would soon lose either equality or liberty. But the ideal of fraternity seems to generate ambivalence no less than the others; just like happiness, rationality, liberty or equality, the whole pantheon of the old belief in progress.

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Contemporary Thought and Politics (Selected Philosophical Themes) by Ernest Gellner


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