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Oakeshott, Michael

Michael Oakeshott (1901–1990) was a British philosopher, political theorist, and historian of ideas. He published many reviews, an influential edition of Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, and two book-length treatises, but he is perhaps best known for his lucid, urbane essays on culture and conduct, history and politics, and experience and education. Out of step with the philosophical, political, and educational currents of his day, Oakeshott founded no school. Nonetheless, his eloquent defenses of practical judgment and liberal learning in a technocratic and instrumental age make him one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century. Before the discussion turns to education, the major themes of his work need to be outlined.

Life and Work

Oakeshott’s passion for ideas seems to have been sparked early. As a boy, ...

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