Barbarism and Religion: Volume 4, Barbarians, Savages and Empires: Barbarians, Savages and Empires (Vol. 4)

Colin Kidd writes:

Few areas of the humanities have undergone such a remarkable transformation over the past half-century as the history of political thought. Students were once introduced to it by way of its giants – the likes of Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Marx. Rather than a living discussion among contemporaries, between great thinkers and lesser fry, political thought was reckoned to be a more elevated – if stilted – affair, of giant responding unto giant, sometimes across centuries of silence. Its history belonged not to historians but to philosophers; and political scientists, broadly speaking, concurred. They too studied political thought by way of its canonical figures, for the light their ideas shed on perennial problems in government.

(LRB 6 November 2008)

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