Features November 2014
The compensations of Michael Oakeshott
Revisiting the philosopher through his personal notebooks.
I first encountered Michael Oakeshott as a sophomore in college when, whether providentially or accidentally, I picked his edition of Hobbes’s Leviathan off the shelf in my college’s library. I had barely begun to study Hobbes, and I knew nothing about Oakeshott. I sat down to read the Introduction and, reading it straight through, found it to be such an exciting intellectual experience that it was a spur to my embryonic commitment to the study of political philosophy. This was 1958. Oakeshott was, apart from this edition of Hobbes, little known in the United States. I continued to pursue political philosophy with this experience in the back of my mind. Then, in 1962, as I was beginning my graduate work, Oakeshott’s...
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