Thanks to Michel Foucault, one might say it has become possible to conceive that the political relevance of humanity in modern thought does not have to do with its "philosophical essence" but rather with its "non-essence." Yet this very idea surfaced earlier in Western thought, at the time of the revolutionary turn towards a politicized humanitarianism, and helped to shape some crucial political strategies making up modern liberal democracy. Its potential eluded even Foucault. I contend that tracing the contours of this classical, if long unthinkable idea, can inform our response to the other of social critique.
- moral skepticism
- Adam Smith