TOWARD A DIALECTICAL LIBERTARIANISM
Peter Boettke, author of Why Perestroika Failed: The Politics and Economics of Socialist Transformation; Associate Professor of Economics, George Mason University:
"Chris Sciabarras Total Freedom is an ambitious work in social theory, and particularly libertarian social thought. Sciabarra critically examines the methodological foundations of the leading libertarian thinkers of the twentieth century and attempts a reconstruction along more dialectical grounds. For the most part he succeeds, and in those areas where his ambitions might exceed his accomplishments, the resulting work will stimulate scholars to follow his lead. In short, he has written a major work whichin fitting with his own theory of the social worldboth rewards and frustrates the reader, but is always stimulating. Total Freedom is a first-rate contribution to social theory and the enduring political project of a free and humane society."
Barbara Branden, author of The Passion of Ayn Rand and a contributor to Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand:
"Chris Sciabarras Total Freedom is an astonishing work, astonishing in the depth and breadth of its scholarship, in its evidence of the use of the dialectic process by philosophers such as Aristotle, in its discovery of dialectics in the work of economists such as Murray Rothbard, andmost of allin the first-handedness of its author. Unlike so many other scholars and historians, Sciabarra looks at the history of philosophy through his own eyes and his own understanding. As a result, this beautifully and clearly written book will make the reader reexamine the history of philosophy and the history of dialectics by means of a new epistemological perspective: the perspective of dialectics. Total Freedom is a landmark in philosophical studies and intrepretation."
Nathaniel Branden, author of The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem and many other volumes on psychology and politics:
"In a lucid, scholarly, and daringly original exercise in truly independent thinking, Chris Sciabarra reclaims the concept of dialectics and makes its methodology the foundation for a radical defense of 'the libertarian vision.' In his originality, Sciabarra is a man ahead of his time. He stimulates us with fresh and provocative perspectives, and challenges us to join him at the intellectual heights he so persuasively traverses. Must reading for all those committed to the ideal of a truly free society."
Stephen Cox, author of Love and Logic: The Evolution of Blake s Thought, The Stranger Within Thee, and The Titanic Story; Director of the Humanities Program, University of California, San Diego:
"My own work in the history of ideas has led me several times to the study of dialectic, about whichin its several formsI have profound misgivings. But Sciabarra's Total Freedom impresses me very favorably. The first part of the book is an acute and finely accessible study of the history of dialectic. I know of none even half so accurate or useful. It is a very satisfactory clearing away of the misunderstandings that traditionally surround and invade the topic. I would regard Sciabarra as the best current scholar of dialectic from an historical and analytical point of view.
"The second part of the book focuses on the kind of dialectics that are at work in contemporary movements of the free-market or libertarian right, especially the dialectic of the influential economist and political theorist Murray Rothbard. The dialectics of the left are, of course, well known; but those of the American right have never really been studied: Sciabarra is their first real scholar. He is likely to remain their best scholar, too. There never has been, and perhaps there never will be, a book that so clearly and powerfully analyzes Rothbard, and his whole intellectual tendency, as the book that Sciabarra has written.
"Sciabarra's work has two great strengths. In this book as in his earlier books, Sciabarra's scholarship is always state of the art. His sources are remarkably rich and broad, and his presentation is scrupulously accurate and fair. His second great strength is lucidity. His writing is almost always luminously clearand clarity about dialectic is not what we usually find in other people's writings. Sciabarra does much to make sense of dialectic and its various forms, and virtually everything to make sense of dialectic in a libertarian context."
Douglas Den Uyl, author of The Fountainhead: An American Novel; co-author of Liberty and Nature: An Aristotelian Defense of Liberal Order and Liberalism Defended: The Challenge of Post-Modernity:
"Chris Sciabarra has broken new ground in his exploration of dialectics. One cannot read his account and fail to be impressed with the role dialectics has played in intellectual history. Indeed, the breadth of Sciabarras analysis reflects the surprising breadth of dialectics itself. This work is definitely thought-provoking and a must read for anyone interested in ideas and their modes of exploration."
Murray I. Franck, Esq., Professor of Law, Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York:
"Sciabarra has integrated the epistemic theory of dialectical analysis and political theory. In so doing, he has created a new liberal science by demonstrating the unrivaled potency of a multilevel, relational and inductive examination of ethical and political issues. This approach identifies opposing perspectives as actual dualisms rooted in monistic value structures, on the one hand; and clarifies what are merely false dichotomies, and thus factually illegitimate dualisms, on the other hand. This historic task culminates in this, the third volume of his majesterial trilogy, an odyssey through the world of ideas from those of Plato to Aristotle to Marx to Hayek to Rand to Rothbard. Sciabarra, to paraphrase Tennyson, has sought and found, and never yielded."
Don Lavoie, author of Rivalry and Central Planning and National Economic Planning: What is Left?; David H. & Charles H. Koch Chair of Economics, The Institute of Public Policy, George Mason University:
"The main purpose of Total Freedom is to connect two scholarly traditions with one another, the tradition of dialectics which goes back to the very beginning of philosophy, and the modern tradition of classical liberalism/libertarianism, and in so doing, to strengthen each. The book is divided into two parts, where the first offers an in-depth scholarly account of the history of dialectics in philosophy and social thought, and the second offers a picture of contemporary libertarianism by way of a detailed interpretation and critique of one of libertarianisms most influential and controversial figures, the Austrian economist Murray N. Rothbard. The kind of social thought which is usually associated with dialectical thinking is Marxism, but this book goes a long way toward complicating that association. Its first part elaborates on the underlying philosophical core of dialectics in a way which suggests that several other traditions in social thought outside Marxism may lay claim to the dialectical tradition. Its second part finds some strong and somewhat surprising dialectical strands within Rothbardian libertarianism, strands which help libertarians answer some of the main criticisms that it has provoked. At the same time it identifies lapses in Rothbardian thought from genuine dialectical thinking, lapses which take libertarianism into monism, dualism, and ultimately utopianism. The work concludes by pointing toward and recommending an emerging body of libertarian social thought which can be called dialectical. In effect the book boldly injects libertarianism into contemporary social thought in a manner which is almost sure to cause some lively controversies in both camps.
"It is in my view unquestionably a significant contribution to social thought. It synthesizes the body of literature in the field of dialectics with an exhaustive overview of dialectical thinking across the history of philosophy, and along the way offers a clearer and more down-to-earth interpretation of its main messages than has yet been achieved. Dialectics has been a victim of the strange language in which it has often been elaborated, especially by Hegel, and this work does an impressive job in deciphering some of the more obscure-sounding passages of Hegelianism. In its other part it offers a balanced account of the main message of Rothbardian libertarianism. Rothbard is usually ignored by serious scholars in economics and other social sciences, and is usually treated uncritically by his small band of sometimes kooky anarcho-capitalist followers. This book defies both by seeing subtleties in Rothbard that neither his mainstream critics nor his extremist admirers ever noticed. . . .
"The book's major audience is scholars in philosophy and social thought, especially those with some interest in Marxism, the Austrian school, or libertarianism. Economists, political philosophers, ethicists, and other scholars in the human sciences will find the book interesting. . . . The books scholarship is extraordinary. It is cautious, careful, and very solid. . . . The style . . . is elegant. . . . When the reader has worked his or her way into . . . the text it suddenly becomes clear that there is a profoundly radical social perspective being offered here, one which is not at all inclined to justify the established institutions of our society, one which may serve as a bold successor to Marxian radicalism. . . . [The] bold message merits the scale. . . ."
Bertell Ollman, author of Alienation and Dialectical Investigations:
"Total Freedom offers a convincing demonstration of how crucial a role dialectics has played in the work of many of our greatest philosophers. No one interested in dialecticsor in the problems of change and interaction on which it centerscan afford to miss Sciabarras scholarly and surprisingly lucid history of dialectical thinking."
Larry Sechrest, author of Free Banking: Theory, History, and a Laissez-Faire Model:
"Total Freedom is an analytical and methodological tour de force the like of which I have rarely seen. Chris Sciabarra first reviews and explains the essentially Aristotelian roots of dialectics and firmly rejects the common assumption that the dialectical method should be thought of as the exclusive property of either Marxists or their deconstructionist brethren. Under his gentle, scholarly scalpel one finds revealed a dialectical sensibility even among those arch-enemies of Marx, the Austrian economists. In particular, Sciabarra looks to anarcho-capitalist Murray Rothbard for a radical libertarianism which, despite its flaws, is strikingly insightful precisely because it sees economics and politics as mutually interdependent realms.
"This is a work of first-rate scholarship and daring conclusions. Even when the reader disagrees with some of those conclusions, he cannot help but admire the careful, often profound, thinking that leads Sciabarra to them. In many ways, it represents a return to classical political economybut from a dialectical rather than a Newtonian perspective. Moreover, it is a book that ought to prove interesting to a wide variety of peopleMarxists, Austrian economists, libertarians, Objectivists, and dialecticians, among others. Every economist, philosopher, and political scientist on the planet should consider Total Freedom to be required reading."
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