Informal in tone yet serious in content, this book serves as a lively and accessible guide for readers discovering the tradition of political thought that dates back to Socrates and Plato. Because the arguments of the great philosophers are nearly eternal, even those long schooled on politics will find that this book calls on recurring questions about morality and power, justice and war, the risk of democracy, the necessity for evil, the perils of tolerance, and the meaning of happiness. Jeffrey Abramson argues politics with the classic writers and draws the reader into a spirited conversation with contemporary examples that illustrate the enduring nature of political dilemmas. As the discussions deepen, the voices of Abramson’s own teachers, and of the students he has taught, enter into the mix, and the book becomes a tribute not just to the great philosophers but also to the special bond between teacher and student.
As Hegel famously noted, referring to the Roman goddess Minerva, her owl brought back wisdom only at dusk, when it was too late to shine light on actual politics. Abramson reminds us that there are real political problems to confront, and in a book filled with grace and passion, he captures just how exciting serious learning can be.
[Abramson] gives us a wonderfully accessible survey of the entire field of Western political philosophy. His book is not only a fine introduction for beginners, but also an erudite, nonpartisan consideration for those who may be more conversant with the literature. There is something to think about on every page.
Abramson bestows upon readers the benefit of his decades of teaching political philosophy… This book consists of straightforward and lucid explorations of the canonical thinkers and their works.
A splendid book. I can’t imagine a better way to introduce general readers and students to the study of politics.
Unusual in its grace, Minerva’s Owl offers an important alternative to introductory texts that are usually dry, superficial, and stilted. I can hardly imagine a more elegant, engaging, and accessible introduction to the traditional canon of Western political thought.
Minerva’s Owl is a beautiful and insightful interpretation of the history of political thought. In polished and unpretentious prose, Abramson makes difficult points about difficult authors with such clarity that the difficulty recedes and you believe, after reading the book, that you really understand the thinkers under discussion. Yet the book also shows how political philosophy unsettles our ordinary opinions as it interrupts our premature complacency and uncritical views. Abramson invites the reader to join him in developing not only a sophisticated understanding of our own politics, but in entertaining radical alternatives to our own politics.
- 400 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.