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Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

24. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak  

Nikita Dhawan

This chapter examines the works of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, who is known for her contribution to postcolonial studies, revolving around gender justice, human rights, and democracy. Spivak criticizes the Eurocentric and male-centric nature and exclusionary framings of political subjectivity. The chapter explains how colonialism revolves around military domination, economic exploitation, and subject constitution, thus explaining that decolonization cannot be achieved simply through transferring power from Europeans to the native elites. Spivak offers a countermodel of individual and collective agency which enhances our understanding of normativity in the era of globalization. The chapter also covers the relation between the European Enlightenment and the postcolonial condition while exploring Spivak’s contribution to the process of decolonizing the Enlightenment. It considers the concept of planetary ethics, which entails forsaking formulas for solving global problems and critical self-vigilance on the part of transnational elites as significant aspects of ethico-political practice.


Cover Political Thinkers

30. Oakeshott  

David Boucher

This chapter examines Michael Oakeshott's political thought, beginning with a discussion of his scepticism and its relation to the background theory of British idealism that informs all aspects of his philosophy. It then considers Oakeshott's belief that philosophy is the uncovering and questioning of the postulates upon which all our forms of understanding rest. Oakeshott has been characterized as a conservative, a liberal, and an ideologist, but this chapter argues that he was neither conservative nor liberal in any party-political sense. It goes on to analyse Oakeshott's views on the rationalist in politics, civil association and the rule of law, and politics and law as well as his characterization of the modern European state. The chapter concludes by assessing the importance Oakeshott attached to myth and legend in the self-consciousness of a society.