The division between analytic and continental political theory remains as sharp as it is wide, rendering basic problems seemingly intractable. Across the Great Divide offers an accessible and compelling account of how this split has shaped the field of political philosophy and suggests means of addressing it. Rather than advocating a synthesis of these philosophical modes, author Jeremy Arnold argues for aporetic cross-tradition theorizing: bringing together both traditions in order to show how each is at once necessary and limited.
Across the Great Divide engages with a range of fundamental political concepts and theorists—from state legitimacy and violence in the work of Stanley Cavell, to personal freedom and its civic institutionalization in Philip Pettit and Hannah Arendt, and justice in John Rawls and Jacques Derrida—not only illustrating the shortcomings of theoretical synthesis but also demonstrating a productive alternative. By outlining the failings of "political realism" as a synthetic cross-tradition approach to political theory and by modeling an aporetic mode of engagement, Arnold shows how we can better understand and address the pressing political issues of civil freedom and state justice today.
About the author
Jeremy Arnold is a political theorist and, most recently, was Senior Lecturer at the National University of Singapore. He is the author of State Violence and Moral Horror (2017).
"This outstanding and original contribution to the growing literature on analytic and continental approaches to political theory shows by examples the benefits and limits of cross-tradition theorizing. Jeremy Arnold proposes a novel way to think about the purpose and the methods of political theory and a new attitude to enable different and even incommensurable approaches to old problems."
—Paul Patton, author of Deleuzian Concepts: Philosophy, Colonization, Politics
"Political theorists often feel pushed to join the ranks of either analytic or continental political theory. But why must they choose? In his excellent Across the Great Divide, Jeremy Arnold's lucid prose lowers the entry barriers to either tradition and helps theorists see past the prejudices that can prevent them from trying to bridge the gap."
—Paulina Ochoa Espejo, author of The Time of Popular Sovereignty: Process and the Democratic State
"A lucidly argued book that sympathizes with both the analytical and continental traditions and has something new and exciting to say about them? It seems improbable. Yet Across the Great Divide has done it! Jeremy Arnold explores uncharted waters, and his defense of an aporetic form of cross-tradition theorizing will ignite debate for years to come."
—Thomas J. Donahue, author of Unfreedom for All: How the World's Injustices Harm You
"Arnold's argument is...admirable for the clarity of the position which it articulates....[Across the Great Divide] makes space for further discussion about how political theory navigates its own disciplinary divides, and for this it is a laudable intervention."
—Ben Turner, Phenomenological Reviews
"Across the Great Divide is an intelligent and innovative analysis of two traditions of thought typically deemed incommensurable to one another. It is a unique addition to recent works that explore the development of Anglo-American political theory in the postwar period; neither wholly polemical nor simply an intellectual history, the work is attentive to the 'how' of scholarly reading."
—Davide Panagia, The Review of Politics