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The Elusiveness of the OrdinaryStudies in the Possibility of Philosophy$
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Stanley Rosen

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780300091977

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300091977.001.0001

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Politics and Nature in Montesquieu

Politics and Nature in Montesquieu

(p.14) Chapter 1 Politics and Nature in Montesquieu
The Elusiveness of the Ordinary

Stanley Rosen

Yale University Press

This chapter presents a dispute concerning the philosophical authority of science that marks the decisive character of the pursuit of the ordinary in the twentieth century. There are those who understand ordinary experience as fundamentally political, in the broad sense of that term; they differ from those who assign no special prominence to politics but arrive at a theoretical abstraction of “the plain man” or the life of “average everydayness,” to mention two prominent examples. In the first case, “ordinary experience” is inseparable from the older view that human beings are by nature the sole political animals. In the second, the role of politics is minimized. One detects instead the influence of the Christian preoccupation with the destiny of the individual person, or alternatively, the increasing anonymity of late-modern life that is dominated by technology, industry, and the other features of mass society.

Keywords:   philosophical authority, science, ordinary experience, theoretical abstraction, the plain man, average everydayness

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