The History of Political Thought in National Context (Ideas by Dario Castiglione, Iain Hampsher-Monk

By Dario Castiglione, Iain Hampsher-Monk

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G. Collingwood, The Idea of History (Oxford, 1946), p. F. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, trans. B. Nisbet (Cambridge, 1975), ®rst draft, p. 21 . The voice of the `Greeks' 31 an interpreter's immediate participation in a tradition of understanding, but such a tradition is only in part revealed in a present tradition of language use. One of the things we observe in the study of the history of political theorising is the activity of integrating and fusing language games from the past and a theorist's present in order to achieve what we recognise, retrospectively, as changed socio-political concepts within their traditions.

We can never re-present the past or past thinking in a pure form. 27 This was no less true of Romans re¯ecting on Greece, or of medieval churchmen re¯ecting on Rome. And this is precisely why in our reconstruction of past arguments we need to engage both a philosophical and a historical sense. Doing this we can assess a philosophical proposition in terms of what we take to be its logical cogency, which is, in practice, how we ®rst read any text. But we must then go back and look at the argument as a historical phenomenon, as a local utterance, and try to place it in terms of the circumstances in which it emerged and to reconstruct plausible reasons as to why it was enunciated in a particular language.

The discovery and account of what the basic laws of human nature are should explain not only how each and every society came into being but why they have the histories they have. For some Greek thinkers, the logos discovers an objective and evident order in appearances. For others, the logos discovers a hidden order that is inaccessible to common sense, so that reality is to be sharply distinguished from appearance. Still others argued that human nature does not follow objective and independent laws at all, but rather results from arbitrary human customs and conventions and, therefore, our de®nition of human nature depends on culture and the processes of acculturation.

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