Michael Oakeshott Rationalism In Politics

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Michael Oakeshott, an English Philosopher, was a conservative thinker who wrote on the topic of rationalism and its effects on political life. In his essay “Rationalism in Politics” Oakeshott is fast to characterize rationalists, stating that they are “...thought free from obligation to any authority...” and that they have “ opinion, no habit, no belief, nothing so widely held that he hesitates to question it and to judge it by what he calls his ‘reason’.” (Oakeshott pg.6) Moreover, Oakeshott continues throughout his article to characterize rationalists by explaining two types of knowledge. The first type of knowledge he coins is technical while the second type of knowledge is practical. (Oakeshott pg.12) Technical knowledge, Oakeshott claims is a knowledge that can be learned from a textbook while…show more content…
With that in mind, we can relate the concept of a cookbook to an ideology in that ideologies are sets of beliefs that one may follow. Just like a cookbook is a set of instructions that one needs to follow to create his or her meal. All things considered, Oakeshott would respond to the claim that increasing economic inequality is harmful by explaining historical trends as well as how ideologies have been plaguing our political system due to rationalism in our politics. Keep in mind, despite Oakeshott being an Englishman we are going to assume he was asked this question in today’s American politics. Now throughout Oakeshott's work in his essay “Rationalism in Politics” he uses multiple authors like Voltaire, Machiavelli, Marx, and Descartes, to help him make compelling arguments about rationalists in Europe. This would be why Oakeshott would be quick to look back at historic American events like that of the revolutionary war, the New Deal, the Civil rights movement, and
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