Gregory Bruce Smith
Are we moving inevitably into an irreversible era of postnationalism and globalism? In Political Philosophy and the Republican Future, Gregory Bruce Smith asks, if participation in self-government is not central to citizens’ vision of the political good, is despotism inevitable? Smith’s study evolves around reconciling the early republican tradition in Greece and Rome as set out by authors such as Aristotle and Cicero, and a more recent tradition shaped by thinkers such as Machiavelli, Locke, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Madison, and Rousseau. Gregory Smith adds a further layer of complexity by analyzing how the republican and the larger philosophical tradition have been called into question by the critiques of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and their various followers.
For Smith, the republican future rests on the future of the tradition of political philosophy. In this book he explores the nature of political philosophy and the assumptions under which that tradition can be an ongoing tradition rather than one that is finished. He concludes that political philosophy must recover its phenomenological roots and attempt to transcend the self-legislating constructivism of modern philosophy. Forgetting our past traditions, he asserts, will only lead to despotism, the true enemy of all permutations of republicanism. Cicero’s thought is presented as a classic example of the phenomenological approach to political philosophy. A return to the architectonic understanding of political philosophy exemplified by Cicero is, Smith argues, the key to the republican future.
“The fragmentation of knowledge among competing schools in our time is not unlike the competing schools of philosophy confronting Cicero. This fragmentation—in his time and ours—manifests itself in the loss of public space. Without a public space—rooted in the phenomena of a shared public life—there can be no genuine knowledge and no free and active political life. In penetrating analysis, Gregory Bruce Smith engages Cicero as a master of the phenomenological method presented here and as a republican statesman opening opportunities for citizens—not subjects—to shape their own future.” —Christopher A. Colmo, Dominican University