New Polish edition of Oakeshott’s essays

The translator Samanta Stecko writes:

It is my great pleasure to inform you that a selection of Michael Oakeshott’s essays that I have translated into Polish has recently been published by Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy publishing house based in Warsaw. The volume, entitled Essays on History, Civil Association and Politics, includes the whole of On History and Other Essays and a large part of the 1991 edition of Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, including the complete On Hobbes section. It is up till now the largest selection of Oakeshott’s works appearing in Polish, following the previously published: an introductory anthology of his essays, The Politics of Faith and the Politics of Scepticism and On Human Conduct.

In my Foreword to the book I discuss the two main themes of the volume – history on the one hand and civil association on the other – within a broader framework of Oakeshott’s lifetime achievement, which still remains largely unexplored here in Poland. Treating the Tower of Babel motif as a key to the understanding of both themes, I start with a presentation of Oakeshott’s conception of history as an attempt to secure the autonomy and dignity of historical understanding within an essentially pluralistic world of human activity. I go on to discuss Oakeshott’s conception of civil association as an anti-Babelian vision of the state, strongly inspired by Hobbes’ Leviathan, the fortunes of which he managed to unfold within an original version of political history, which is no longer framed by the question of optimal constitution and focuses on the issues of the office and scope of government. This I hope will be seen as a refreshing perspective here in Poland, where centuries of strife for independence have taught us to read history from the perspective of crucial collective goals, rather than in terms of the development of the formal bonds of common existence. I also consider it of particular importance that the essay The Rule of Law has been included in the book, since Poland has been having trouble abiding by the principle of the authority of law in recent years. The volume ends with some closing remarks by Polish philosopher, professor Piotr Nowak, who focuses on the issues of rationalism, tradition and education.

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