POLS Seminar: “The General Theory of Politics”, James Alexander, 12:30Noon December 5 (EN)

“The General Theory of Politics”
Associate Professor in Political Science
Bilkent University

Date and Room Info:
Tuesday, December 5, 2023, 12:30 p.m.; A-130

This talk has a historical and a philosophical side.Historically, there was an attempt in the twentieth century to generate a general theory of politics which would combine the breadth of the entire tradition of philosophical reflection since Plato and Aristotle with the focus of the new scientific emphasis on politics. This attempt failed. Most modern political theory and political science avoids fundamentals and ignores not only the failure to generate a general theory, but even the attempt to do so.
Philosophically, the failure of the attempt is more instructive than the attempt itself: since it indicates that the structure of a general theory of politics is necessarily paradoxical and contradictory. The best way to characterise politics is by saying that it involves a ‘double diremption’. One diremption is theoretical, the other is practical. I shall attempt to substantiate both the historical claim and the philosophical claim in this talk.

James Alexander received a Ph.D. in History at Trinity College, Cambridge in 2000. His dissertation was later published as a book, Shaw’s Controversial Socialism (University Press of Florida, 2009). Subsequently he held positions at King’s College, Cambridge, and the Department of Politics of the University of Cambridge. He came to the Department of Political Science at Bilkent University in 2004. His teaching and research interests include the history and philosophy of politics: political concepts, political ideologies, varieties of contemporary political theory, the nature of politics. He has articles in journals such as Philosophy, Government and Opposition and The History of Political Thought.