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Department of Social Sciences
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Tel: +44 (0)1865 484287
Gary has written 14 books and many articles on the history of political thought and political theory. He is interested in the processes of interpreting texts, and his monograph, A History of Modern Political Thought- The Question of Interpretation (OUP) analyses and evaluates a number of approaches including hermeneutics, post-structuralism, the Cambridge School, dialectics and idealism. His own interpretive pluralism is reflected in the range of his interests. He has written on Dylan and Murdoch as well as on past and present forms of political thought. His monographs include studies of Lyotard, Collingwood, Hegel, Plato, Political Economy and Global Political Theory. He has also published in leading journals, notably History of Political Thought, Political Studies and The History of European Ideas.
Gary has supervised ten research students to successful completions on a variety of subjects in the history of political thought, current political theory and international political theory. These subjects include Marx, French Political Thought, Disability and Citizenship, Global History and International Security.
He has examined 23 doctoral theses
Gary has recently completed a monograph on Iris Murdoch, Why Iris Murdoch Matters- Making Sense of Experience in Modern Times (Bloomsbury, 2018) and has also completed editing a volume, Murdoch On Truth and Love (Macmillan, 2018). His research project on Murdoch continues. It is inter-disciplinary as it embraces Murdoch's interests in Politics, Philosophy, Art and Literature.
He has a long-standing interest in Hegel, publishing a monograph and an edited volume as well as numerous articles on Hegel. He has affiliated interests in theorists in the Hegelian tradition, including Marx, Collingwood and Oakeshott. His research on Hegel and Marx runs alongside his interest in post-structuralism and he has published on Lyotard, Foucault, Derrida and Hardt and Negri. His interest in particular historic thinkers is linked to his wider engagement with the nature of the history of political thought, and he has published on the identity of influence in and the methodology of the history of political thought.
This book reviews Iris Murdoch’s thought as a whole. It surveys the breadth of her thinking, taking account of her philosophical works, her novels and her letters. It shows how she explored many aspects of experience and brought together apparently contradictory concepts such as truth and love. The volume deals with her notions of truth, love, language, morality, politics and her life. It shows how she offers a challenging provocative way of seeing things which is related to but distinct from standard forms of analytical philosophy and Continental thought. Unlike so many philosophers she does offer a philosophy to live by and unlike many novelists she has reflected deeply on the kind of novels she aimed to write. The upshot is that her novels and her philosophy can be read together productively as contributions to how we can see others and the world.
To talk of the influences on or the influence of Bob Dylan is to talk of what is manifestly significant. However, the notion of influence is controversial. Dylan himself appreciates its complexities. He has admitted his influences and praised past figures, and yet he has fashioned an identity of the ever-changing individualist who resists labelling. In this article, theorists of influence are reviewed so as to appraise how influence might be taken. Subsequently Dylan’s unacknowledged use of others’ material and the impact of musical traditions and popular movements on his work are reviewed. Influence is seen to be a key to opening up the complex identities within Dylan’s work.
Thom Brooks, Hegel's Political Philosophy: A Systematic Reading of the Philosophy of Right (Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh, 2007), xvii + 204 pp., $55.00, ISBN 978 07486 2574 1. William E. Conklin, Hegel's Laws: The Legitimacy of a Modern Legal Order (Stanford University Press: Stanford CA, 2008), xii + 381 pp., $65.00, ISBN 978 08047 5030 1. Ido Geiger, The Founding Act of Modern Ethical Life: Hegel's Critique of Kant's Moral and Political Philosophy (Stanford University Press: Stanford CA, 2007), xiii + 173 pp., £50.00, ISBN 978 08047 5424 8.
This article examines Lyotard's thought by means of a review of his conceptions of Marx and capital. Lyotard is taken to hold ambiguous views on both Marx and capital throughout his career. These ambiguities reflect his development of a post-Marxist standpoint. The ambiguous character of Lyotard's reading of Marx and capital is heightened by the fact that the ways in which they are formulated vary in the course of his career. In criticizing Marx, Lyotard tends to assume an absolutist form of Marxism that abstracts from the variety of ways in which Marx can and has been interpreted. Likewise, Lyotard tends to misrecognize how he retains aspects of Marx's critique of capital, and hence does not explore the critical connections between his own standpoint and that of Marx.
Oakeshott sets out philosophical and historical views of the state. They are distinct, and their distinctiveness harmonizes with his notion of the exclusivity of philosophical and historical perspectives. The modal distinctness of philosophy, history, and practice is established in Experience and Its Modes and is then rehearsed in subsequent publications, notably in essays in Rationalism and Politics. History is a way of seeing the past that is at odds with practical thought and philosophy. It is the sign of ideology, and its misperceptions of the relations between philosophy and practice that ideologists such as Lenin and Thatcher invoke abstractions of communism and the market to frame practical political decision-making. However, in considering art in the essay “The Voice of Poetry in the Conversation of Mankind,” Oakeshott imagines art to be independent of other activities and yet to maintain a conversational relationship between the modes of experience. What is meant by a conversation? For Oakeshott, a conversation does not preclude the independence of modes of experience from one another. The closeness between philosophy, practice, and history is also assumed and yet underplayed by the argument of On Human Conduct, which imagines theory to be separate from history and practice. In this paper, it is argued that the connections between practical, historical, and philosophical modes of understanding the state in Oakeshott’s work are closer than is suggested by the metaphor of conversation and at odds with the separation that is maintained in Experience and its Modes.
Murdoch’s metaphysics attends to different forms of thought and practice, showing connections and differences. She recognises the sheer refractoriness of aspects of experience while tracing intimations of order and aspirations to goodness and moral perfection. In her review of politics and morality in Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals she separates and relates the two spheres. She perceives how in personal morality individuals can develop perfectionist goals, but in doing so they rely upon the security that is provided by political order. Politics, for Murdoch, in the wake of the collapse of Marxist regimes in Eastern Europe, is not to be utopian, but rather is to avoid repression and injustice and secure order and justice to safeguard individuals, who, in their personal lives can pursue perfection.
History of Political Thought
Contemporary Political Theory
International Political Theory
Philosophy of History
Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Hegel Society of Great Britain
Association for Political Thought of the UK and Ireland
Collingwood and British Idealism Society