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Polis and Praxis

Exercises in Contemporary Political Theory

By Fred R. Dallmayr





The touchstone of these seven original essays is the relationship between polis and praxis - the public-political space and the political action that maintains and is conditioned by that space. The argument flows from Martin Heidegger's lament in his Letter on Humanism that modern philosophers have failed to understand that the essence of "action" is "accomplishment." Dallmayr's lucid essays are a step toward achieving that understanding. Dallmayr assesses and puts into perspective the work of many of the seminal thinkers of the 20th century - Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Michel Foucault, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jürgen Habermas, Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss, Michael Oakeshott - as he takes up such topics as the plausibility of friendship as a model for political relations, the relationship between political praxis and "experience," Heidegger's ontology of freedom, Foucault's treatment of power, and the merits and disadvantages of Habermasian critical theory. The result is a stimulating and original contribution to current political discourse that explores and advocates the manifold possible levels of active political life below and above the level of the State. Fred Dallmayr has established a reputation as a theorist and critic who is equally well attuned to European and American currents of philosophical and political thought. Like Hannah Arendt, he sees the essay as an ideal form for exercises in theorizing en route while venturing beyond traditional categories and philosophical benchmarks. His aim in this book is not a close-knit propositional framework but a set of tentative and partially continuous explorations that are provocative and inviting, like the movements of a musical suite.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262040785 216 pp. | 9 in x 6 in


$25.00 X | £20.00 ISBN: 9780262540483 216 pp. | 9 in x 6 in


  • Polis and Praxis is evocative, erudite, and philosophically rich. Its message will be pondered seriously by persons of good will who are ready to engage, with 'rebellious gentleness,' in the necessary work of rethinking our political lexicon.

    William T. Bluhm

    American Political Science Review