This book is the first comprehensive exposition of the work of one of the most important intellectual historians and political theorists writing today. Quentin Skinner's treatment of political theory as a dimension of political life marks a revolutionary move in the historical as well as the philosophical study of political thought. Skinner brings the study of political theory closer to the language of agents and treats theorists as politicians of a special kind. This is as true of his accounts of his contemporaries, such as Rawls, Rorty, Geertz and Habermas, as it is of his interpretations of classical thinkers such as Machiavelli and Hobbes. Skinner has become internationally renowned for this approach, which ties together historical and contemporary analysis in order to integrate the study of the past and the present, and which tries fully to uncover the historical context and development of key concepts in political theory such as freedom and the state. This volume charts Skinner's work from the early 1960s right up to the present, including his most recent studies in the theory of persuasive speech, and is organized around five major themes: history, linguistic action, political thought, liberty and rhetoric. It pays particular attention to Skinner's work in relation to that of continental thinkers, especially Max Weber and Reinhart Koselleck. The book will be essential reading for students and scholars of political and social theory, history, philosophy and cultural studies.
Table of contents: Chapter 1. Introduction 1.1. A revolution in the study of political thought 1.2. A political reading
Chapter 2. History as an Argument 2.1. Death of political philosophy? 2.2. The defence of the historian: Laslett and Pocock 2.3. The historical as a criterion 2.4. The politics of history Chapter 3. Theories as Moves 3.1. Intelligibility of politics as activity 3.2. The action perspective on political thought 3.3. Ideas and concepts as moves in argument 3.4. Conventions and intentions 3.5. Legitimation of action 3.6. The innovating ideologist 3.7. Linguistic action and its legitimation Chapter 4. The Foundations: a History of Theory Politics 4.1. Genres of studying political thought 4.2. Why 'Foundations'? 4.3. The matrix of questions 4.4. Ideologies and legitimation 4.5. The formation of the concept of the state 4.6. From the history of ideas towards a history of concepts 4.7. The Skinnerian revolution Chapter 5. Rethinking Political Liberty 5.1. Liberty as a contested concept par excellence 5.2. Revising the conceptual history of liberty 5.3. Liberty of the city-republics 5.4. Machiavelli as a philosopher of liberty 5.5. Hobbes on natural liberty and the liberty of subjects 5.6. The neo-roman theorists: liberty vs. dependence 5.7. Intervention in the contemporary debate 5.8. A profile on the history and theory of liberty Chapter 6. From Philosophy to Rhetoric 6.1. The rise of rhetoric 6.2. Rhetorical philosophy: Wittgenstein and Austin 6.3. Skinners critique of philosophy 6.4. Rhetoric and philosophy in Hobbes 6.5. The rhetorical culture of the Renaissance 6.6. Rhetoric and the critique of philosophy 6.7. Conceptual change: from speech acts to rhetoric 6.8. Skinner and rhetoric studies today Chapter 7. Quentin Skinner as a Contemporary Thinker 7.1 The intellectual profile 7.2. A vision of time References Index