Canadian Idealism: Forgotten, not lost

Title: Canadian Idealism: Forgotten, not lost
Authors: Meynell, Robert A. S
Date: 2005
Abstract: What does it mean to be free? How have Canadians tried to answer this question? Where does Canada's political culture stand today? These are the themes of this dissertation, and at its heart we will find the abundance of G.W.F. Hegel's political philosophy. The road to answering these questions begins with recognizing that there is a distinctive tradition of Canadian political philosophy which offers an original formulation of the question of freedom, community, and history. The tradition is Canadian Idealism, and its members share central elements of a common vision that is strongly informed by Hegel's thought. This dissertation identifies this tradition and its central tenets, traces the influences and makes a general critical assessment of its political prescriptions. The case is made through an analysis of the importance of Hegel's philosophy to the works of three leading Canadian thinkers: C.B. Macpherson (1911-1987), George Parkin Grant (1918-1988), and Charles Taylor (1931-). These three political philosophers are excellent representatives of the continuance of the Hegelian tradition since the 1950s. They have had an enormous influence on Canadian scholarship and they each embody very different strains of the theoretical approach, thus giving us a good sample of the various forms that a Canadian idealist can adopt. Hegel's philosophy has served as the foundation for their arguments regarding multiculturalism, nationalism, human agency, and the crisis in values of the modern age. While many people have argued for and against the culturalist and nationalist politics of Grant and Taylor or the form of socialism articulated by Macpherson, the significance of their Hegelianism has been underemphasized, and in the cases of Grant and Macpherson it has been almost universally unrecognized. I see them not as isolated political philosophers who share an interest in Hegel, but rather as members of a scarcely acknowledged Canadian intellectual tradition that has been recorded by a few intellectual historians, but virtually ignored in the literature on Canadian political thought. Not only does this dissertation refine our understanding of these three prominent Canadian thinkers and their conceptions of freedom and community, but it also outlines the main tenets of an intellectual tradition that has played a major role in defining Canada's political culture.
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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