The University of Rochester Press’ Books in Political Philosophy
Founded in 1989 as a unique collaboration between the University of Rochester and British academic publisher Boydell & Brewer, Ltd., the University of Rochester Press publishes books of high intellectual merit that reflect selected strengths of the university and contribute to scholarly dialogue in specific subject areas. The press sees as its mission the dissemination of scholarship to the academic community and to thoughtful general readers, particularly in the fields of musicology and music theory, African studies, European history, and the history of medicine. All manuscripts chosen for consideration by the press are rigorously peer-reviewed and brought before its editorial board for approval. The press acquires and selects projects—specialized monographs and contributed volumes—that fortify its established series, and that add meaningfully to the store of knowledge in these and related disciplines.
The Jack Miller Center works to sustain America’s political livelihood by supporting education in American political thought and Western civilization. Several of the University of Rochester Press’s books treat ideas on these themes and other related themes. Below are a just few of the Press’ books in political thought and information about the call for manuscripts in the Medieval Political Thought series.
Machiavelli’s Gospel: The Critique of Christianity in The Prince
By William Parsons
The leading interpretations of The Prince focus on Machiavelli’s historical context, but they give little attention to the source on which the moral and political thought of Machiavelli’s sixteenth century was based, the Christian Bible. In this study of The Prince, William Parsons plumbs Machiavelli’s allusions to the Bible, along with his statements on the Church, and shows that Machiavelli was a careful reader of the Bible and an astute observer of the Church. On this basis Parsons contends that Machiavelli’s teaching in The Prince is instructively compared with that of the Church’s teacher, Jesus Christ.
Parsons thus undertakes what recent interpreters of The Prince have not done: contrast Machiavelli’s advice with the teaching of Christ. The result is a new reading of The Prince, revealing in Machiavelli’s political thought a systematic critique of the New Testament and its model for human life, Christ. In this commentary on one of the greatest works on politics ever written, Parsons not only challenges the most recent interpretations of The Prince but also sheds new light on the classic interpretation that Machiavelli was a teacher of immorality.
Bill Parsons, a JMC faculty partner, earned his B.A. from the University of Maine and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He teaches courses in ancient and modern political thought. Other duties include serving as the director of the Constitutional Studies Center, Carroll College’s pre-law advisor, and the director of Carroll’s Honors Scholars Program. Bill’s book, Machiavelli’s Gospel: the Critique of Christianity in The Prince, was published in 2016.
Becoming Socrates: Political Philosophy in Plato’s Parmenides
By Alex Priou
Plato’s Parmenides is regarded as a canonical work in ontology. Depicting a conversation between Parmenides of Elea and a young Socrates, the dialogue presents a rigorous examination of Socrates’ theory of the forms, the most influential account of being in the philosophic tradition.
In this commentary on the Parmenides, Alex Priou argues that the dialogue is, in actuality, a reflection on politics. Priou begins from the accepted view that the conversation consists of two discrete parts — a critique of the forms, followed by Socrates’ philosophical training — but finds a unity to the dialogue yet to be acknowledged. By paying careful attention to what Parmenides calls the “greatest impasse” facing Socrates’ ontology, Priou reveals a political context to the conversation. The need in society for order and good rule includes the need, at a more fundamental level, for an adequate and efficacious explanation of being. Recounting here how a young Socrates first learned of the primacy of political philosophy, which would become the hallmark of his life, Becoming Socrates shows that political philosophy, and not ontology, is “first philosophy.”
Socrates and Divine Revelation
By Lewis Fallis
The philosopher Socrates was guided in his investigations by nothing other than his own reason. But did Socrates address adequately the possibility of guidance from a different and higher source — the possibility of divine revelation?
In this book, Lewis Fallis examines Socrates’ study of divine revelation. Giving interpretations of two of Plato’s dialogues, the Euthyphro and the Ion — which each depict Socrates conversing with a believer in revelation — Fallis argues that in each dialogue Socrates explores the connection between knowledge of justice or nobility on the one hand and divine wisdom on the other. By doing so, Socrates searches for common ground between reason and revelation. Shedding new light on Socratic dialectics, Fallis uncovers the justification for understanding political philosophy to be the necessary starting point for an adequate inquiry into divine revelation.
Leo Strauss and the Recovery of Medieval Political Philosphy
By Joshua Parens
Leo Strauss is known primarily for reviving classical political philosophy. Strauss recovered that great tradition of thought largely lost to the West by beginning his study of classical thought with its teaching on politics rather than its metaphysics. What brought Strauss to this way of reading the classics, however, was a discovery he made as a young political scientist studying the obscure texts of Islamic and Jewish medieval political thought.
In this volume, Joshua Parens examines Strauss’s investigations of medieval political philosophy, offering interpretations of his writings on the great thinkers of that tradition, including interpretations of his most difficult writings on Alfarabi and Maimonides. In addition Parens explicates Strauss’s statements on Christian medieval thought and his argument for rejecting the Scholastic paradigm as a method for interpreting Islamic and Jewish thought. Contrasting Scholasticism with Islamic and Jewish medieval political philosophy, Parens clarifies the theme of Strauss’s thought, what Strauss calls the “theologico-political problem,” and reveals the significance of medieval political philosophy in the Western tradition.
The Politics of Place: Montesquieu, Particularism, and the Pursuit of Liberty
By Joshua Bandoch
Many Enlightenment thinkers sought to discover the right political order for all times and all places, and scholars often view Montesquieu as working within this project. In this reassessment of Montesquieu’s political thought, Joshua Bandoch finds that Montesquieu broke from this ideal and, by taking into account the variation of societies, offered a more fruitful approach to the study of politics.
Through a careful reading of Montesquieu’s political writings, Bandoch shows that for Montesquieu the politics, economics, and morals of a society must fit a particular place and its people. As long as states commit to pursuing security, liberty, and prosperity, states can — indeed, should — define and advance these goals in their own particular ways. Montesquieu saw that the circumstances of a place — its religion, commerce, laws, institutions, physical environment, and mores — determine the best political order for that place. In this sense, Montesquieu is the great innovator of what Bandoch calls the “politics of place.” This new reading of Montesquieu also provides fresh insights into the American founding, which Montesquieu so heavily influenced. Instead of having discerned the “right” political order, Bandoch argues, the Founders instituted a good political order, of which there are numerous versions.
Rochester Studies in Medieval Political Thought
The University of Rochester Press, a partner of Boydell & Brewer, invites manuscripts for consideration in its new series, Rochester Studies in Medieval Political Thought. The series editors, Douglas Kries and Joshua Parens, welcome interpretive studies on political writings from the medieval period as well as thematic studies of a political question or problem unique to the period. The editors also welcome projects that compare medieval political thought with classical, modern, or postmodern thought. Projects that compare any two or all of the three religious traditions of medieval political philosophy—Christian, Islamic, and Jewish thought—are sought in particular. English translations of important political works and collections of essays are also of interest.
To submit a project for consideration, please send a formal proposal to the series editors. The proposal should include a synopsis of the work, summarizing its content and intended contribution to the existing literature; a table of contents; and a CV.
Bernard J. Coughlin, S.J., Professor of Christian Philosophy
Dean of the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts and Professor of Philosophy
University of Dallas
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