Myth and violence both feature in the first work of political theory: Plato’s Republic. Yet, much of contemporary political theory (especially analytic political theory) sees these subjects as something which stands beyond its purview. On this view, political theory seeks rational answers to identifiable problems. This, however, does not represent the lived experience of the political world: rational answers do not necessarily garner electoral support or manifest political power. Moreover, the most intellectually influential works of political theory of the last 50 years – John Rawls’ Theory of Justice and Jürgen Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action – do not take violence, myth or unreason into account. Looking around the world, however, it seems that it is violence, myth and unreason which dominate in much of the world: ISIS, with their violent mythic account of Islam; Donald Trump, with his bombastic disdain for rationally confirmable truths; and the EU referendum campaign, pursued with little regard rational discourse. Political theory cannot ignore these problems, and it is hoped that this colloquium can provide a space for the discussion of the theoretical and practical problems of these issues as they have been addressed within the history of political thought.
This colloquium will thus offer a space for discussion of ideas around myth, violence and unreason as they are found within the history of political thought. The idea of the history of political thought is broadly conceived, and we will thus be hoping for a wide and interesting variety of subject matter.
Prospective speakers should submit a CV and an abstract of around 250 words to: benjamin.chwistek[at]york.ac.uk