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Eastern European dissidents gained global fame by serving as key protagonists in the collapse of communism in 1989. As writers, philosophers, and artists, they are remembered for their political actions as much as for their ideas. This book takes this variegated and collected oeuvre and reads the dissidents' texts as expressions of their existential search for inter-subjective understanding and mutual recognition, showing how their ideas contribute to current conversations in political philosophy about thinking and action. The concepts explored in these dissidents' writings include ideas of 'living in truth,' 'speaking one's mind,' creating civil society, and challenging unjust power with 'anti-political politics' and a 'parallel polis.' These exercises allowed dissidents to survive totalitarianism, recreate their intellectual universe, and re-humanize themselves amidst dehumanizing situations. Brinton examines the ways through which Cold War dissidents turned to the past for inspiration in order to change and transcend their present entrapment, contributing to a more general narrative about how to change one's way of acting by changing one's way of thinking. Our conversations about the relationship between philosophy, politics, and dissidence, asserts Brinton, can be deepened by examining this legacy.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Possibility Beyond Shadow Lines Introduction 1. Horizons of the Dissident Life-World 2. Mutual Recognition in the Parallel Polis 3. Towards an Existential Recognition: The Self and Other in Dissidence Conclusion: 'As if I were a dissident:' a guide to thinking and action