In his recent National Affairs article, editor of American Political Thought and JMC faculty partner Michael Zuckert commemorates two men who helped reintroduce Founding political thought to the academy.
Two Great Americanists
The academic discipline of American political thought, now well-established as a part of political theory, is younger and newer than it seems. Until about the late 1960s, it was not a subject that would have occupied many scholars. Its advent, at least in its modern form, is owed to the work of a small cadre of professors of political philosophy and a revival of interest among historians in the thought to be found in the American political tradition.
The work of these scholars not only energized the emergence, or re-emergence, of an academic subfield, but it also quickly seeped into the consciousness of a broader readership. It has given shape, in turn, to a kind of philosophical-historical narrative about the American founding and the American nation that has proven enormously influential.
Some of these scholars lived to see their work gain meaningful influence, but two of the most important thinkers among them — Herbert Storing and Martin Diamond — have not quite gotten their due.
Michael Zuckert is the Nancy R. Dreux Professor of Political Science at Notre Dame. He works in the two fields of Political Theory and Constitutional Studies, in both of which he has published extensively. He has published Natural Rights and the New Republicanism, the Natural Rights Republic, Launching Liberalism, and (with Catherine Zuckert) The Truth About Leo Strauss in addition to many articles. He has also edited (with Derek Webb) The Antifederal Writings of the Melancton Smith Circle. He has a book Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy (with Catherine Zuckert) coming out in the spring from University of Chicago Press and is completing Natural rights and the New Constitutionalism, a study of American constitutionalism in theoretical context.
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