Dissertation > Political, legal > Political Theory > History of Political Science,History of Political Thought > World History of Political Thought

The Politics of the Pursuit of Intimation

Author ZhouMingJun
Tutor MaDePu
School Tianjin Normal University
Course Political Theory
Keywords Oakeshott Rationalism the Politics of the Pursuit of Intimation thePolitical Viewpoint
CLC D091
Type PhD thesis
Year 2013
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The political viewpoint in the western political thoughts history has been always rationalism. The political viewpoint in ancient Greece can be summarized to ’the politics of the pursuit of top goodness’, and the western rationalism politics laid the foundation in this age; the political viewpoint in middle age can be summarized to ’the politics of the pursuit of divinity’, the political viewpoint in this era was with some rationalism color, and just through the middle age, the modern political viewpoint became a universal rationalism politics; the political viewpoint in modern times took on a kind of argument paradigm transformation, that is to say, from’the politics of the pursuit of right’ to ’the politics of the pursuit of utility’, but this transformation didn’t change the nature of universal rationalism. The unique contributon of Oakeshott is to put forward the political viewpoint of the pursuit of intimation, through the critical on the rationalism in politics.To grasp the political thoughts of Oakeshott, the first and the most important is that we must remember Oakeshott is a philosopher, and his philosophical position is purely explanative and not directive, so his political philosophy is the philosophical explanation on the political activities, its aim is not to give the detailed suggestion to the political choice, but to give a coherent explanation to the politics. Oakeshott’s coherent explanation about politics is to put forward the insights:the politics is the pursuit of intimation. The political viewpoint of the pursuit of intimation is based on Oakeshott’s acquaintance and criticism on the modern politics. The acquaintance about modern politics deal with three aspects:the modern political theory, the styles of modern political activities and the character of modern state. And he found out the three aspects of modern politics are always in between the two extremes, the modern political theory is in between individualism and collectivism political theories, the styles of modern political activities are in between the politics of scepticism and the politics of faith, and the characters of modern state are in between the Societas (based on the civil association) and Universitas (based on the enterprise association). During this course, Oakeshott insisted using the method of historicism and dialectics, he believed it is the same historical background that gave the birth to these extremes, and he found out the balance between the three extremes of modern politics was broken. Specifically, the influence of collectivism political theory exceeded the individualism political theory, the pull of the politics of faith exceeded the politics of skepticism,and the power of Universitas exceeded the Societas. The reason of these appearances, Oakeshott believed, is the rationalism in politics and tha aim of his critisim is to draw back the balanced status between modern politics.Rationalism and politics get married and it makes the politics becomes the rationalism politics. The characters of rationalism politics mainly have three aspects: the firstly, it is the politics of the felt need; the secondly, it is the politics of perfection and the politics of uniformity; the thirdly, it is the politics of the book. Since it is the politics of the book, it could be spread, so exporting one kind of political mode and copying one kind of political institution will be the typical practice of rationalism politics. The reason of these characters lies in the viewpoint of knowledge of rationalism. This kind of viewpoint of knowledge only accept the technical knowledge and refuse to accept the practice knowledge, in other words, rationalism makes the technical knowledge erase the practice knowledge. In doing so, it not only simplify the knowledge, but makes the truth and the value confused, so the misunderstanding of the nature of knowledge will lead to a corruption of mind and the political failure.The political viewpoint of the pursuit of intimation is also based on the criticism on the empiricism politics and the ideological politics or the rationalism politics, the empiricism politics emphasize the pursuit of the present and the ideological politics emphasize the pursuit of the future, so they are two extremes of understanding politics, but’the politics of the pursuit of intimation’ emphasize the tradition, and then the politics get a coherent understanding by emphasizing the past, the present and the future.’The politics of the pursuit of intimation’ emphasize the importance of the tradition, but Oakeshott’s viewpoint about tradition gave up the mystery of Burke’s tradition, it may even appear to be essentially unintelligible, and so this kind of tradition is just one part of the whole of our life. And therefore, the political activities spring neither from instant desires, nor from general principles, but from the existing traditions of behaviors themselves. In politics, then, every enterprise is a consequential enterprise, the pursuit, not of dream, or of a general principle, but of intimation. And here, the policy will not be the imagination of some new sort of society, or the transformation of an existing society so as to make it correspond with an abstract ideal; it will be the perception of what needs doing now in order to realize more fully the intimations of our existing society.’The political viewpoint of the pursuit of intimation’ fully realized the Complexity and contingency of politics, and it insists a kind of political position of golden mean, it indicates that the understanding of the politics will be such a course which has no destination or definitive answers. So, the politics can not be simplyfized, regularized, or also it can’t be extremely or completely scientific handled, and the political choice must avoid any dogmatism, we believe these are the ’intimations’ which Oakeshott’s political viewpoint can give us. With these intimations, when we reflect the course of China modernization and the thinking of Chinese reform today, it is not so difficult to find out that any dogmatism, copying any other state’s institution modes will lead to a failure end. Because this practice implies a universal thinking, but the truly appropriate thinking is problem-oriented, it is not the pursuit of modes, but is the thinking of ’crossing the river by feeling the stones’, indeed, it is the thinking of ’the pursuit of intimation’.

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