This volume brings together a selection of Iain Hampsher-Monk’s writings on questions of historicity and rationality in political theory, together with a substantial introduction written for the volume.
There are two loci around which the work revolves – one is the relationship between history and philosophy in the analysis of key concepts such as liberty, democracy and toleration, the other is the role of reason in political science’s explanations.
Despite a background in PPE, the author played a major role in the ‘historical’, revolution in political theory. Here, his reflections on the historicity of concepts in political science are presented alongside articles dealing with the role and limitations of economic modes of rationality in social and political theorising. Unifying these themes is a commitment to an understanding of human action as conscious and essentially meaning-bearing and the case for a human science rooted in such self-understandings.
'Accessible by specialists and non-specialists alike, Iain Hampsher-Monk’s essays illustrate the author’s broad intellectual profile, crossing borders between the history of political thought and other forms of political theorising; normative and interpretative forms of political theory; or political theory and political economy. Though he works mainly in the Anglophone tradition, Hampsher-Monk applies himself to continental styles of thinking and writing, such as the history of concepts. Rather than leave the study of political institutions to empiricists, he deals with them as subject of political theorising – a valuable point.'
Kari Palonen, University of Jyväskylä
'Iain Hampsher-Monk is one of our leading historians of political thought. These remarkable essays display his range and erudition, and demonstrate why the study of political thought remains an essential basis for understanding politics.'
Andrew Gamble, Queens’ College Cambridge