Our Politics, Our Selves?: Liberalism, Identity, and Harm
Princeton University Press
Publication date: February 2001
Digital Book format: PDF (Adobe DRM)
Is statecraft soulcraft? Should we look to our souls and selves in assessing the quality of our politics? Is it the business of politics to cultivate, shape, or structure our internal lives? Summarizing and answering the major theoretical positions on these issues, Peter Digeser formulates a qualified permission to protect or encourage particular forms of human identity. Public discourse on politics should not preclude talk about the role of reason in our souls or the importance of wholeness and community to our selves or the significance of autonomy for individuals. However, those who seek to place only their own conception of the self or soul within the reach of politics are as mistaken as those who would completely preclude such matters from the political realm.
In proposing this view, Digeser responds to communitarians, classical political rationalists, and genealogists who argue that liberal culture fragments, debases, or normalizes our selves. He also critically analyzes perfectionist liberals who justify liberalism by virtue of its ability to cultivate autonomy and authenticity, as well as liberal neutralists who wish to avoid altogether the problem of selfcraft. All these, he argues, fall short in some way in defining the extent to which politics should be concerned with the self.