Radical Temporality and the Modern Moral Imagination: Two Themes in the Thought of Michael Oakeshott

Here is the “dean” of Oakeshott exposition, Tim Fuller, and a taster from his essay for the Companion.

My intention is to reflect on two themes that run through the whole of Oakeshott’s thought: first, the radical temporality of the human condition and, second, the character of modernity’s response to radical temporality. The first is, for Oakeshott, universal in experience to all times and places; the second is peculiar to a development in the modern West which, Oakeshott suggests, began to come into sight about five centuries ago, which persists into the present, and which manifests our particular experience of, and response as he understands it to, the universal condition of radical temporality. The second theme emerges as Oakeshott’s exploration of the distinctively modern response to the universal condition. My approach here prepares the way to expound a “philosophy of politics,” which Oakeshott has described as “an explanation or view of political life and activity from the standpoint of the totality of experience” (RPML 126).