History of Political Thought 25 (1):116-148 (2004)

This essay subjects to criticism the historical and philosophical attitudes to political thought found in the writings of John Dunn and Michael Oakeshott. The essay does not limit itself to criticism but attempts to elaborate what is indicated by criticism for the sake of the modern understanding of political thought. The argument is that history and philosophy as they have recently been practised suffer from limitations that can only be addressed by a recognition of something which is here called theology. The significance of such a recognition is considered with regard to the history of political thought, political philosophy and finally to theology itself. The emphasis on theology makes it necessary to say that the essay is written for the benefit of historians and philosophers, not theologians. Although it is an argument for theology it is in no sense an argument from theology. Whether this is a contradictory position may require consideration elsewhere; but since the essay is a first step rather than a final step in an argument, it may gain more than it loses by such a contradiction, if there is one
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