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date: 01 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article describes the postmodern approach to the history of political thought that has evolved through the practices of a variety of theorists in both Europe and the United States since the 1950s. It maintains that Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy is the originating point of this movement, although neither he nor any of the other theorists it mentions left any canonical statements of methods to compare with the works of Quentin Skinner or Leo Strauss. Terms such as “deconstruction,” “genealogy,” and “radical hermeneutics” are often used to describe these methods. At the broadest level, the postmodern approach displays an acute sensitivity to the role of language in politics, and in political theory itself, that originates in the work of Nietzsche. While postmodernism is nothing if not a congeries of method, this article argues that these diverse approaches have, if not a unity, than at least common sources and overlapping themes.

Keywords: Friedrich Nietzsche, history, political thought, language, postmodernism, deconstruction, genealogy, radical hermeneutics, politics, political theory

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