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The Fable of the World

A Philosophical Enquiry into Freedom in Our Times

Modern political theory begins with the rise of the philosophical concept and practice of sovereignty in the sixteenth century. Over the course of the next several centuries, sovereignty was generalized as the form of the modern state—eventually, there was no state that was not sovereign, and there was no understanding of the state that did not depend upon the notion of sovereignty. Yet, as Gérard Mairet argues in The Fable of the World, at this moment of the culmination of political sovereignty, the limitations and dangers of this theory and practice have become all too apparent. Furthermore, Mairet believes that we have begun to see the glimmers of a new form of political community beyond the sovereign state and its rootedness in inter-state violence: for Mairet, Europe has become the harbinger of a new federative form of statehood.

In this rigorous investigation of the notion of sovereignty from Bodin and Hobbes, through Rousseau and the Federalists, to Foucault and the framers of the European constitution, Mairet examines the articulation of the concept through the bloody history of European colonialism. He also shows how the reconstitution of the European political community after World War II marked the beginning of a new trajectory—one that offers the hope of a post-sovereign mode of political being-in-the-world.


346 pages | 6 x 7 1/2 | © 2010

The French List

Philosophy: Philosophy of Society

Political Science: Political and Social Theory


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Table of Contents

Preface to the English Edition
A Note on the Sources

Introduction: This World, Philosophy and ‘Examples of Things Past’
Chapter 1: Common Being or The Discourse of Sovereignty
Chapter 2: The Historical or the Spirit of the World
Chapter 3: Genealogy of Morality, 1: The Historical People
Chapter 4: Genealogy of Morality, 2: The Political Self
Chapter 5: European Humanity or The Multitude
Conclusion: Res publica or The New World

Index of Personalities
Index of Ideas

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