Gray & Demos (not Polanyi)

Jacob Segal jsegal at
Fri Mar 12 00:50:59 PST 1999

>Just how great role does the thought of Burke play in Gray's and the Blairite
>scheme of things? Havent't read Gray's books, only his articles in New
>Sam Pawlett

Personally, I'd say that Oakeshott is more important to Gray than Burke. The difference lies in Burke's belief in an essential transcendental order of things and a social hierarchy that corresponds to that hierachy. Michael Oakeshott, however, springs from a Hegelian tradition that is historist, namely that values emerge historically. Further, for Oakeshott (and Hegel) the self emerges in terms of the community and the self makes sense only embedded in a community. For that reason Oakeshott and, no doubt, Gray attack a liberal rationalism that would establish universal values and a concept of an atomized individuality. Despite this, Oakeshott was very opposed to the activist state and in some quarters is best notion for his attack on state planning.

Jacob Segal

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