Oakeshott occupies an unusual place within the 20th century philosophy: his reputation made as a political philosopher is as misunderstood within political circles, as his philosophy is unknown within philosophical circles at large. The former arises from the failure to grasp the essentially epistemic nature of his political philosophy, the latter through Oakeshott's deployment of an unfashionable metaphysic. Yet it is precisely these 2 dimensions that have made his work so distinctive and insightful. Though feted by Collingwood as the 20th century's greatest philosopher of history; considered by many as Hobbe's greatest interpreter; as a worthy foil to the political philosophy of Rawls, Nozick and Raz; as well as making distinguished contributions to the philosophy of education, jurisprudence, aesthetics and religious studies, Oakeshott is conspicuous by his absence from university syllabi and from the consciousness of the intelligentsia at large. Oakeshott's blend of Aristotelianism and Hegelism, with its Hobbesian, Heideggerian and Wittgensteinian echoes, makes for an emergent quality of mind as suggestive as it is precise. It is thus no surprise that Oakeshott so frustrates the critic and is so easily appropriated by those who would then claim him as one of their own - conservative, liberal, communitarian, post modern, relativist, philosophical idealist. If there is any consensus, it is that Oakeshott's thought is conveyed in a style of supreme polished elegance, which might be an attraction for the educated general reader and the professional academic alike seeking relief from the extremes of technocratic sterility and turgidity endemic to much of professional academia. Time now to discover the compelling world of thought that is Michael Oakeshott.
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