Raymond Geuss’ radicalization of realism in political theory

Janosch Prinz

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Raymond Geuss has been viewed as one of the figureheads of the recent debates about realism in political theory. This interpretation, however, depends on a truncated understanding of his work of the past 30 years. I will offer the first sustained engagement with this work (in English and German) which allows understanding his realism as a project for reorienting political theory, particularly the relationship between political theory and politics. I interpret this reorientation as a radicalization of realism in political theory through the combination of the emphasis on the critical purpose of political theory and the provision of practical, contextual orientation. Their compatibility depends on Geuss’ understanding of criticism as negative, of power as ‘detoxified’ and of the critical purchase of political theory as based on the diagnostic engagement with its context. This radicalization particularly challenges the understanding of how political theory relates to its political context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-796
Number of pages20
JournalPhilosophy and Social Criticism
Issue number8
Early online date8 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Raymond Geuss
  • realism in political theory
  • critique
  • theory and practice
  • diagnostic political theory

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