Mark T. Mitchell
In The Limits of Liberalism, Mark T. Mitchell argues that a rejection of tradition is both philosophically incoherent and politically harmful. This false conception of tradition helps to facilitate both liberal cosmopolitanism and identity politics. The incoherencies are revealed through an investigation of the works of Michael Oakeshott, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Michael Polanyi.
Mitchell demonstrates that the rejection of tradition as an epistemic necessity has produced a false conception of the human person–the liberal self–which in turn has produced a false conception of freedom. This book identifies why most modern thinkers have denied the essential role of tradition and explains how tradition can be restored to its proper place.
Oakeshott, MacIntyre, and Polanyi all, in various ways, emphasize the necessity of tradition, and although these thinkers approach tradition in different ways, Mitchell finds useful elements within each to build an argument for a reconstructed view of tradition and, as a result, a reconstructed view of freedom. Mitchell argues that only by finding an alternative to the liberal self can we escape the incoherencies and pathologies inherent therein.
This book will appeal to undergraduates, graduate students, professional scholars, and educated laypersons in the history of ideas and late modern culture.
“This is a very good book and a welcome voice in a time when, it seems, both reason and tradition are being relegated to the sidelines. The general argument of the book is presented with a kind of clarity that is rare in political theory. The argument of the book is complicated, but Mitchell makes it seem easy. His prose is clear, his argument always easy to follow. Mitchell’s expertise is abundantly evident.”— Richard Avramenko, University of Wisconsin-Madison