Liberty before and after liberalism: Milton's Shifting politics and the current crisis in liberal theory

Feisal Mohamed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The current crisis in American liberal theory marks a shift away from the critique of individualism to an exploration of the urgent challenges posed by cultural pluralism. Appeals by various 'fundamentalist' constituencies to the overriding authority of essential truths generated outside the consensus of the polity have the power to destroy toleration and the liberal nature of the polity. A study of Milton proves invaluable in helping to evaluate the viability of one prominent solution, for texts like A Treatise of Civil Power seem to sketch out what Paul Kahn calls a 'liberalism of faith/ that is, the constitution of secure domains within the polity for the contemplation and practice of truths alien to the consensus. The example of Milton suggests, however, just how fallible a solution, and how ultimately illiberal, such an extension of liberalism might be.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)940-960
Number of pages21
JournalUniversity of Toronto Quarterly
Volume77
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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