History of Political Thought 21 (1):152-172 (2000)

Janet Coleman
Western Carolina University
It is not clear to me that there is any longer the institutional will to train students, as both Henry and I were trained, in the languages, histories and philosophies that enable one to approach the texts of classical, medieval and renaissance intellectual history in particular. Today a student who is drawn to a study of pre-modern ideas and historical settings will be asked why on earth such an irrelevant subject matter should attract any interest or indeed, funding. Even in Politics Departments there has been a tendency to keep alive only small pockets of normative theorists who have neither interest in nor knowledge of the history of their own discipline or of the languages they use with such confidence. For this reason, I want to say something about what I take to be the importance of studying the history of political thought in a modern university, because I think that we are gradually losing sight of a range of ways of thinking and speaking that will have, and is already having, dire consequences for the more everyday world we live in
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