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The Two Faces of Liberalism

  • ID: 3977822
  • Book
  • 168 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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InTwo Faces of Liberalism, John Gray argues that liberal thought has always contained two incompatible philosophies. In one, liberalism is a theory of a universal rational consensus, which enables the achievement of the best way of life for all humankind. In the other, liberalism is the project of seeking terms of peaceful coexistence between different regimes and ways of life.

John Gray argues that the liberalism of rational consensus is anachronistic in a time when most late modern societies contain several ways of life, with many people belonging to more than one. The future of liberalism lies with a project of modus vivendi, first outlined in the writings of Thomas Hobbes. In the course of his argument, Gray presents a new interpretation of liberal toleration and argues that value–pluralism in ethics can support a revised view of universal human rights.

This accessible book will be of great interest to students and scholars of political thought, moral and political philosophy, social and critical theory and cultural studies.

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Chapter 1 Liberal Toleration.

Chapter 2 Plural Values.

Chapter 3 Rival Freedoms.

Chapter 4 Modus vivendi.


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′The great merit of Gray′s book is its engagement with the vagaries of real politics, and its mistrust of philosophical systems which operate too far away from them.′Glen Newey, London Review of Books

′This little book by John Gray, a serious and penetrating political philosopher, is iconoclastic, thought–provoking and mandatory reading for anyone seriously interested in its subject.′ Times Higher Education Supplement

′John Gray′s political philosophy has long demonstrated that consistency is not necessarily a virtue in his field of study. In this excellent, demanding book, Gray strives for a new synthesis, and returns to his old master Thomas Hobbes in search of an answer.In settling moral differences, there is, Gray argues, "no alternative to the long haul of politics", and he is absolutely right. That observation is typical of the vivid sense of realism that makes this such an important book.′ Matthew d′Ancona, Deputy Editor of the Sunday Telegraph in The Spectator

′Liberals believe in freedom – but how much, for whom and why? In a profound and important book, John Gray advances what might be called the sceptic–optimist answers to these questions.′ Prospect

′One of Britain′s most eminent political thinkers turns his attention to liberal thought.′ Politico′s Bookshop

"John Gray has written a manifesto for (postmodern) tolerance. It is a clever and compelling book." Peter Beilharz, Democratization

"John Gray is an acute and influential commentator on liberalism and this book presents in an accessible and lively way various trajectories of his recent thought.... It will be of interest to those who have followed the debate about liberalism in political philosophy. At the same time, the explanations of positions and traditions are lucid enough to make the book useful for non–specialists... Gray has a persuasive voice, and impresses his reader with his immense yet relaxed access to the tradition of Western political thought." Christopher Insole, The Heythrop Journal

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