In His Image: God and Man in the Political Philosophy of Reinhold Niebuhr
Hartman, Joseph Edward
Mitchell, Joshua M.
Political theories inescapably present anthropological questions; there is no such thing as a political theory without an anthropology. Political action requires political actors, and the accounts offered to describe, explain or justify such action themselves incorporate some understanding of the nature of those actors. Every political or moral theory therefore necessarily incorporates an anthropology, whether that anthropology is fully theorized or, as is often the case, merely presupposed.This dissertation seeks to penetrate the anthropological question in political theory through an investigation of Reinhold Niebuhr’s incisive critique of what he determines to be the prevailing philosophical anthropologies undergirding modern political theory as well as a consideration of Niebuhr’s own theologically grounded account. It evaluates the merits of both his critique and his proposed alternative as well as their consequences for politics, and concludes that if we find the realism of Niebuhr’s political theory compelling and persuasive, we must take seriously its theological and anthropological foundations.
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