Date: December 2011
Creator: Flanagan, John Patrick
Description: This is an investigation of the intellectual roots of the political thought and internationalism of Woodrow Wilson, the twenty-eightieth president of the United States. Exposed to the influence of Darwin, Wilson believed that politics had to be redefined as an evolutionary process. the older mechanical understanding of politics was to be replaced with an organic understanding of political development. This allowed Wilson to synthesize a concept of politics that included elements from the Christian tradition; the English Historical School, particularly Edmund Burke; and German idealism, including G.W.F. Hegel. However, because he placed a heavy emphasis on Burke and Hegel, Wilson moved away from a natural rights based theory of politics and more towards a politics based on relativism and a transhistorical notion of rights. Wilson had important theoretical reserves about Hegel, as a result, Wilson modified Hegel’s philosophy. This modification took the form of Wilson’s organic-progressive principle. This would greatly affect Wilson’s ideas about how nations formed, developed, and related to one another. This study focuses on Wilson’s concept of spirit, his theory of history, and his idea of political leadership. the organic-progressive principle is key to understanding Wilson’s attempts to reform on both the domestic and international levels.
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