Michael Oakeshott on the Human Condition
Essays by Timothy Fuller

By Timothy Fuller


Michael Oakeshott on the Human Condition is a collection of sixteen essays that constitute Timothy Fuller’s reflections over a period of forty-five years on Michael Oakeshott’s understanding of the human condition, including his central ideas on politics, philosophy, religion, and conservatism. Fuller is arguably the most recognized Oakeshott scholar worldwide, and these essays express not only his profound insights into Oakeshott’s writings but also of the man himself.

Michael Oakeshott (1901–1990) is considered one of the greatest minds in twentieth-century English political thought. He studied history at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, in the early 1920s, and, after serving in the British Army between 1940 and 1945, he returned to Cambridge, eventually becoming Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics in 1951.

Fuller’s friendship with Oakeshott spanned many years, from 1974, when they first met in Colorado, until his death in 1990. According to Fuller, Oakeshott was

    an intellectual aristocrat. . . . He was a true individualist. He spent no time worrying whether others had more or less than himself, he treated every encounter with another person as a unique circumstance, a potentially poetic experience.

Fuller also described Oakeshott as an extraordinary teacher and lecturer, always eager to engage in exchanges with students and staff. In the introduction to this edition, Fuller writes about the effect Oakeshott had on his students over the years:

    [They] have discovered [Oakeshott’s] work and the spirit of inquiry it inspires. They have become courageous defenders of the life of the mind who, with Oakeshott, neither despise nor overrate politics. They see that the practical life is an essential, unavoidable feature of the human condition, that it reveals much of what is true of the human condition. Yet at the same time politics does not exhaust the possibilities in human experience. As he did, they look for and are receptive to the poetic moments in the midst of life’s ordinariness. They are in the world while resisting worldliness.

This new collection of Fuller’s writings is a worthy complement to Oakeshott’s works, offering a unique perspective into Oakeshott’s thought and, perhaps, inspiring a new, younger audience for his works.

Timothy Fuller is Professor of Political Science at Colorado College. A founding member of the Michael Oakeshott Association, he has published many essays and edited books on Oakeshott, including Religion, Politics, and the Moral Life (1993) and The Voice of Liberal Learning: Michael Oakeshott on Education (1989), and he was coeditor with Shirley Letwin of a multivolume series for the Yale University Press, Selected Works of Michael Oakeshott.


Jun 2024 | 6 x 9 | 320 Pages

Editor's introduction, select bibliography, index.


978-0-86597-931-4 Hardcover
978-0-86597-932-1 Paperback