The modern turn in political philosophy established the ontological primacy of the ego, reducing the community to a mere assemblage of individuals, and led to the repudiation of natural duties in favor of inherent individual rights. The modern project culminated in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, whose emphasis on radical individuation left human beings both liberated and exiled. Individuals were free to create (and to recreate) themselves anew, but they were simultaneously uprooted from any larger community. Indeed, the very possibility of shared meaning, let alone shared political life, was called into question. This volume consists of essays addressing the efforts of philosophers, artists, caretakers, and—perhaps most importantly—teachers to reestablish a foundation for political life in postmodernity. The origins of these efforts are diverse, and their modes are varied. Individuals seek communion with the divine, either with or through others; they pursue friendship among strangers; and they search for meaningful relationships in both the classroom and the public square. Reflecting the various means by which individuals seek communion with others and with the transcendent, divine Other, the essays contained in this volume explore the modes through which individuals forge relationships with others in an age of isolation.
N. Susan Laehn is adjunct professor of political science at Iowa State University.
Thomas R. Laehn is county district attorney forGreene County, Iowa.
Introduction: The Search for Community in the Postmodern Age
N. Susan Laehn
Thomas R. Laehn
Chapter 1: The Subversiveness of Desire: Descartes, Hobbes, and the Suppression of the Erotic in Modern Thought
Chapter 2: Political Participation as Participation in the Transcendent
William P. Schulz, Jr.
Chapter 3: Toward a Politics of Care: Heidegger, Freedom, and the Moral-Political Posture of Authentic Solicitude
Andrea D. Conque
Chapter 4: Subjectivity in Crisis: Emmanuel Levinas and Albert Camus on Exile and Hospitality
Chapter 5: The Poets & Professor
Peter A. Petrakis
Chapter 6: The Role of Care Structures in Wendell Berry’s Hannah Coulter: Surrogacy, Memory, and Membership in Port William, Kentucky
Drew Kennedy Thompson
Chapter 7: Terror, Nihilism, and Joy: Reconsidering Camus’s Confrontation with Political Violence
John Randolph LeBlanc
William Paul Simmons
Chapter 8: The Birth of Tragedy: Political Theory and the Classroom
W. King Mott
Chapter 9: Political Philosophy as Apprenticeship and Practice
David D. Corey
Afterword: Cecil, Nikos, and Me
James F. Lea