Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An Interesting Thought from PS Huff

From the comments:
In the Machiavelli section [of Oakeshott on Rome and America], you write "the republicans of the Italian Renaissance could not rely on a native tradition of republicanism as the Romans had done—thus, they sought answers to their difficulties in more abstract political theories." But I don't think it's fair to say that every attempt to establish a new government is rationalist. Suppose a longstanding dictatorial government is toppled by a foreign power. What do you do? Go back to traditions that hardly anyone remembers?
 Here is what I say about this, and what I think Oakeshott might say as well:

There are times when there is nothing for it but to be a rationalist. If you are starting a new polity from scratch, well, make the best rationalist design you can! It's your only hope. Oakeshott himself wrote a rationalist guide to betting on horses for people who didn't have the inclination to gain real experience in the art. What Oakeshott decried was not the existence of the rationalist approach to some activity, but the preference for such an approach, and the idea that it was superior to experience in getting the activity "right."

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