The Tortoise and the Elephant

You couldn’t call it a conspiracy but there is surely a degree of censorship governing discussion of the great English conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott. At issue is what to make of the extraordinary contrast, documented by his biographer Robert Grant, between the public and the private Oakeshott. The one is polished, traditionalist, Olympian and, some say, the greatest English political philosopher since Thomas Hobbes. The other is a Dionysiac “love junky” for whom love was the great “cause” (his word) of his life. As Grant sees it, Oakeshott (who he says “seems seldom to have been sleeping with fewer than…

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