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The Mightie Frame


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Table of Contents

Prologue: Refreshing Metaphors Chapter 1: What Can We Know? Chapter 2: Modernity's Mighty Frame Chapter 3: Traditional Societies Chapter 4: Transitional Figures: Hugo Grotius, Thomas Hobbes, Samuel Pufendorf Interlude: "Working models" Chapter 5: "This quarter of the globe" Chapter 6: Transitional Figures: Immanuel Kant, Adam Smith, James Madison Chapter 7: State-Nations Chapter 8: Transitional Figures: Edmund Husserl, Emile Durkheim, the Fabian Society Interlude: Growth Rates Chapter 9: Epochal Destruction Chapter 10: Transitional Figures: J. L. Austin, Jay Forrester, Donna Haraway Chapter 11: Paradise Lost? Chapter 12: Relative Virtue Epilogue: "Saving constructivism" References Acknowledgments Index

About the Author

Nicholas Greenwood Onuf is Professor Emeritus of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University. He is author of seven books, two with his brother, and several articles in journals and edited volumes. His book, Making Sense, Making Worlds: Constructivism in Social Theory and International Relations, was published in conjunction with the republication of World of Our Making: Rules and Rule in Social Theory and International Relations.


"In this fugue of metaphors and minds, Nicholas Onuf uncovers yet another layer of the modern political world and its making, taking off where World of Our Making left us. The Mightie Frame takes international theory into hitherto uncharted intellectual terrains, the result being a truly fascinating story of epochal change and the role of our political imagination in bringing it about." - Jens Bartelson, Lund Unversity "The Mightie Frame gives us a strikingly original, philosophically erudite, and conceptually profound (re)interpretation of modernity, depicting its stages and gesturing towards its future. Nicholas Onuf is a pioneering thinker whose work deserves engagement from all of us who wish to decipher the enigmas of our 21st century world. Truly, an indispensable book." - Richard Falk, Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University, and author of Revisiting the Vietnam War "This is indeed a 'mighty frame', exciting and demanding but intensely rewarding, taking the reader on a breathtaking tour of Western civilization and its different attempts to make sense of our collective life. Playing on the metaphors of rupture, systems, and levels-among others-Onuf's magnum opus summarizing a life-long engagement with social theory is a conceptually sophisticated interrogation that adroitly moves between systematic thinking and historical reflection, trying to understand the genesis of modernity in its multiple instantiations and to assess the possibilities and limits of rule in our time." - Friedrich Kratochwil, Chair of International Relations (ret), European University Institute Florence "Through his thoughtful and critical engagement with many of its leading philosophers and thinkers, Nicholas Onuf has constructed a masterful narrative about the modern world, its moments of rupture as well as its continuities. This is an important book by a leading International Relations theorist that ranges far and wide in its reflections on modernity. It should appeal, not only to IR scholars, but to historians, philosophers and all those concerned with better understanding the ethical dilemmas of our age." - J. Ann Tickner, American University

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