Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Blank slates

John Gray on Michael Oakeshott:
Whether Oakeshott produced anything like a coherent system of ideas is doubtful. He disparaged ideology and favoured a return to practice and tradition. But as the French reactionary Joseph de Maistre discovered when, at the start of the 19th century, he visited Russia hoping to find a people that had not been 'scribbled on' by rationalistic philosophes, only to discover a country besotted with the Enlightenment, there is no uncorrupted text to which to return: the life of practice is a palimpsest of modish and forgotten theories.

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