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Beyond Tragedy and Utopianism

Bringing together an international team of contributors, this volume draws on international political theory and intellectual history to rethink the problem of a pluralistic world order.

Inspired by the work of international political theorist Nicholas Rengger, the book focuses on three main areas of Rengger’s contribution to the political theory of international relations: his Augustine-inspired idea of an ‘Anti-Pelagian Imagination’; his Oakeshottian argument for a pluralist ‘conversation of mankind’; and his ruminations on war as the uncivil condition in world politics. Through a critical engagement with his work, the book illuminates the promises and limitations of civility as a sceptical, non-utopian, anti-perfectionist approach to theorizing world order that transcends both realist pessimism and liberal utopianism.

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This volume offers a critical appraisal of Nicholas Rengger’s work and legacy by focusing on three main areas that mark his contribution to the political theory of international relations and the problem of world order: his Augustine-inspired idea of an ‘anti-Pelagian imagination’ favouring a sceptical, non-utopian, anti-perfectionist response to the dilemmas of the contemporary liberal order; his Oakeshottian argument for a pluralist ‘conversation of mankind’ that could sustain an ethos of civility in world politics; and his critical engagement with the just war tradition as an institution of civil world order. Civility and anti-Pelagianism, two central planks in Rengger’s thought, express a poetic re-imagining of world order that transcends both tragic realism and liberal utopianism. In a world riven by religious frenzy and populist anger, ideological polarisation, economic stagnation, ecological degradation, delusions of sovereignty, fantasies of national superiority, and popular endorsement of infantile or farcical politics, civility has become a scarce commodity indeed. Rengger issues an important warning against making this situation our destiny, offering a vision of civility that challenges many of our moral certainties. This volume will be of interest to students and scholars of International Relations, social and political theory, and the history of (international) political thought.

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This volume offers a critical appraisal of Nicholas Rengger’s work and legacy by focusing on three main areas that mark his contribution to the political theory of international relations and the problem of world order: his Augustine-inspired idea of an ‘anti-Pelagian imagination’ favouring a sceptical, non-utopian, anti-perfectionist response to the dilemmas of the contemporary liberal order; his Oakeshottian argument for a pluralist ‘conversation of mankind’ that could sustain an ethos of civility in world politics; and his critical engagement with the just war tradition as an institution of civil world order. Civility and anti-Pelagianism, two central planks in Rengger’s thought, express a poetic re-imagining of world order that transcends both tragic realism and liberal utopianism. In a world riven by religious frenzy and populist anger, ideological polarisation, economic stagnation, ecological degradation, delusions of sovereignty, fantasies of national superiority, and popular endorsement of infantile or farcical politics, civility has become a scarce commodity indeed. Rengger issues an important warning against making this situation our destiny, offering a vision of civility that challenges many of our moral certainties. This volume will be of interest to students and scholars of International Relations, social and political theory, and the history of (international) political thought.

Restricted access

This volume offers a critical appraisal of Nicholas Rengger’s work and legacy by focusing on three main areas that mark his contribution to the political theory of international relations and the problem of world order: his Augustine-inspired idea of an ‘anti-Pelagian imagination’ favouring a sceptical, non-utopian, anti-perfectionist response to the dilemmas of the contemporary liberal order; his Oakeshottian argument for a pluralist ‘conversation of mankind’ that could sustain an ethos of civility in world politics; and his critical engagement with the just war tradition as an institution of civil world order. Civility and anti-Pelagianism, two central planks in Rengger’s thought, express a poetic re-imagining of world order that transcends both tragic realism and liberal utopianism. In a world riven by religious frenzy and populist anger, ideological polarisation, economic stagnation, ecological degradation, delusions of sovereignty, fantasies of national superiority, and popular endorsement of infantile or farcical politics, civility has become a scarce commodity indeed. Rengger issues an important warning against making this situation our destiny, offering a vision of civility that challenges many of our moral certainties. This volume will be of interest to students and scholars of International Relations, social and political theory, and the history of (international) political thought.

Restricted access

This volume offers a critical appraisal of Nicholas Rengger’s work and legacy by focusing on three main areas that mark his contribution to the political theory of international relations and the problem of world order: his Augustine-inspired idea of an ‘anti-Pelagian imagination’ favouring a sceptical, non-utopian, anti-perfectionist response to the dilemmas of the contemporary liberal order; his Oakeshottian argument for a pluralist ‘conversation of mankind’ that could sustain an ethos of civility in world politics; and his critical engagement with the just war tradition as an institution of civil world order. Civility and anti-Pelagianism, two central planks in Rengger’s thought, express a poetic re-imagining of world order that transcends both tragic realism and liberal utopianism. In a world riven by religious frenzy and populist anger, ideological polarisation, economic stagnation, ecological degradation, delusions of sovereignty, fantasies of national superiority, and popular endorsement of infantile or farcical politics, civility has become a scarce commodity indeed. Rengger issues an important warning against making this situation our destiny, offering a vision of civility that challenges many of our moral certainties. This volume will be of interest to students and scholars of International Relations, social and political theory, and the history of (international) political thought.

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This chapter introduces the central themes across which Nicholas Rengger made his lasting contribution to the political theory of international relations and the problem of world order: his Augustine-inspired idea of an ‘anti-Pelagian imagination’ favouring a sceptical, non-utopian, anti-perfectionist response to the dilemmas of the contemporary liberal world order; his Oakeshottian argument for a pluralist ‘conversation of mankind’ that would sustain an ethos of civility in world politics; and his critical engagement with the just war tradition as an institution of civil world order.

Restricted access