The publication in 1960 of Sheldon Wolin’s Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought re-established in many ways, the importance of epic and classical political philosophy contra the reigning tendency towards positivism and behaviorism (a shrinking of thought to the smallest scientistic circle turns). The republication of Politics and Vision in 2004 reminded thoughtful political theorists of a motherlode worth the mining. There can be no doubt that Wolin’s 1969 article, “Political Theory as a Vocation”, inspired a generation of idealists to realize that thinking in a political way could be a vocation and birthed, in some ways, the Berkeley School of Political Theory. The death of Wolin (1922-2015) ended an important era of substantive approaches to political thought, but Wolin’s notion of thinking in large, epic and historic ways lingers on in opposition to those who reduce thinking to micro issues.
Why have I begun and article on Pierre Teilhard De Chardin (1881-1955) by referring to Sheldon Wolin? Both De Chardin and Wolin thought on a large canvass—they were the perennial foxes rather than the burrowing hedgehogs. Both men covered much terrain in their expansive thinking and interpretations. Needless to say, De Chardin was much more concerned and focussed on the relationship of spirituality and science than was Wolin, and it is to this important crossroads I now turn.