World politics at the edge of history : R.G. Collingwood, Michael Oakeshott and another case for the 'classical approach'
This thesis outlines an idea of world politics as a distinct activity of thinking and speaking about the overall conditions of world order in terms of their desirability. World order is understood not as an arrangement of entities, be they humans, states or civilizations, but a complex of variously situated activities conducted by individuals as members of diverse associations of their own. This idea is advanced from within one such association, or context, contemporary International Relations, wherein it entails a metatheoretical position, neotraditionalism, as a rectification of the initial, 'traditionalist' or 'classical', approach after the advance of rationalism and subsequent reflectivist critique. Since loose talk about traditions does not constitute a tradition, neotraditionalism is presented by drawing on the resources of a well-trimmed manner of thinking and speaking about human associations, political philosophy, again, understood not as a body of doctrine but a context-specific human activity which can be experienced only through concrete exhibitions of individual intelligence. Therefore, throughout the thesis, a conversation on the place of politics in human experience is re-enacted. Its major participants are R.G. Collingwood and Michael Oakeshott. Its major achievement is the conditional unity of understanding and conduct, tradition and individuality, the subject of inquiry and the manner in which it is conducted. As such, this conversation is neither an antiquarian item nor a timeless ideal, but an instance of an association to be desired, and thus an example which, once comprehended, that is, both understood and included into one's own context, becomes a historically enacted disposition for the activity of politics.