Fred Dallmayr’s work is innovative in its rethinking of some of the central concepts of modern political philosophy, challenging the hegemony of a modern “subjectivity” at the heart of Western liberalism, individualism and rationalism, and articulating alternative voices, claims and ideas. His writings productively confound the logocentrism of Western modernity, while providing alternative conceptions of political community that are post-individualist, post-anthropocentric and relational.
The editor has focused on work in three key areas:
Critical phenomenology and the study of politics
The first selections focus on the philosophical roots of Dallmayr’s work in two of the most innovative intellectual trends of the twentieth century: phenomenology and critical theory. These chapters outline some of the main arguments advanced by practitioners of phenomenology, particularly “existential phenomenology,” as well the guiding ideas of critical theory and critical Marxism, while tracing Dallmayr’s debt to thinkers such as Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas, Adorno and Merleau-Ponty.
These readings illustrate Dallmayr’s explorations beyond the confines of Western culture, as this phase of his thinking turns toward what is now called cross-cultural or “comparative” political theory. In an approach that maintains its linkage with critical phenomenology, Dallmayr asserts that Western (or European-American) political theory can no longer claim undisputed hegemony; rather it must allow itself to be contested, amplified and corrected through a comparison with non-Western theoretical traditions and initiatives.
These selections explore the final phase of Dallmayr’s work, in which he applies his insights on cross-cultural studies to the context of global politics, rebutting Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” thesis, and instead arguing for a cosmopolitanism that takes a middle path between both global universalism and restrictive particularism, advocating sustained dialogue and respectful mutual learning between countries and civilizations.