chapter  1
4 Pages

John Gray: A Political Theorist Of and Against Our Times

WithJohn Horton & Glen Newey

John Gray is one of the most challenging and controversial political theorists in the English-speaking world. He is currently Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics, having previously been for more than 20 years Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford. A prolific writer, whose output now stands at more than 15 volumes, including monographs, polemical tracts and collections of papers, essays and articles, his reputation rests in part on his status as a public intellectual, a rare breed in England. He is an iconoclastic thinker, who has consistently challenged orthodoxies in academic political theory and wider political debate, having produced distinctive work inter alia on social justice, globalisation and progress, liberalism and conservatism, and on the nature of value in general, and liberty in particular. Gray is also a leading interpreter of thinkers like J.S. Mill, Friedrich Hayek and Michael Oakeshott. Probably his deepest and most sustained engagement has been with his former mentor, Isaiah Berlin, whose influential doctrine of value-pluralism he has radically reoriented (Gray 1995a). He shares Berlin’s historical literacy and essayistic style, as well as his disinclination to join or found any identifiable school.