Between Specters of War and Visions of Peace: Dialogic Political Theory and the Challenges of Politics

ISBN : 9780190903916

Gerald M. Mara
272 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jul 2019
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Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, recurring political violence at both state and non-state levels

has eroded confidence in the progressively peaceful character of international relations, and has unsettled the parameters of political thought. Frames of peace and frames of war have, throughout Western thought, colored the questions that we ask about politics, the descriptions of the pragmatic and moral alternatives that we face, and the ideas and metaphors that we use at any given moment. These frames, as this book argues, also obscure too much of political life.

Gerald M. Mara proposes, instead, a political philosophy that takes both war and peace seriously, and a style of theory committed to questioning rather than closure. He challenges two powerful currents in contemporary political philosophy: the verdict that "premodern" or "metaphysical" texts cannot speak to modern and postmodern societies and the insistence that all forms of political theory be some form of democratic theory. Mara reexamines seminal texts in the history of political theory, from Thucydides to Jacques Derrida, and from Machiavelli to Judith Butler, to examine how frames of reference of war and peace have structured both the writing of these texts, as well as interpretations of them. The result is not a linear history of ideas, but a series of conversations between them, and a democratic justification for moving beyond democratic theory.


Chapter 1: Enmity or Friendship?
Chapter 2: War and Order
Chapter 3: Perpetual Peace
Chapter 4: War is History
Chapter 5: Political Philosophy Between War and Peace

About the author: 

Gerald M. Mara is Affiliate Professor of Government and Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Georgetown University. His research interests are classical political philosophy, historical and contemporary liberalism, and democratic political theory. He is the author of Socrates' Discursive Democracy and The Civic Conversations of Thucydides and Plato.

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