Saturday, August 7, 2010

Geuss on Reflexive Political Thinking

"I and every knowledgeable person I knew thought we were able to see very clearly before the fact that the invasion of Iraq was a recipe for human and political disaster and a potentially self-destructive policy for the UK to pursue, so why wasn't Blair able to see this? However, even to ask the question in this way means one has not come very far. The tradition of philosophy that descends from Hegel to the early Frankfurt School holds that philosophical thinking, including philosophically informed thinking, must be reflexive. Whatever questions I might put about claims my interlocutor makes, I must also put the very same questions to myself with exactly the same or even greater rigor. In the heat of the moment it is very tempting to look for one's opponent's failure of imagination, that is, for a diagnosis of Blair's problem, but to do this is only one half the story. Equally important, and perhaps more important for me and those who thought as I did, was to reflect on what problem I had that prevented me from being able easily to imagine that a politician could see projects like the invasion as merely one among other possible, unobjectionable options for action, rather than as nothing but a clear disaster waiting to happen."
-R. Geuss, Politics and the Imagination

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