The Challenges of Ideal Theory and Appeal of Secular Apocalyptic Thought

<jats:p> Why do thinkers hostile or agnostic toward Christianity find in its apocalyptic doctrines—often seen as bizarre—appealing tools for interpreting politics? This article tackles that puzzle. First, it clarifies the concept of secular apocalyptic thought and its relation to Christianity. I propose that, to avoid imprecision, the study of secular apocalyptic thought should focus on cases where religious apocalyptic thought's influence on secular thinkers is clear because they explicitly reference such thought and its appeal (e.g. Engels's fascination with Christian apocalyptic thought). Second, it argues that the political appeal of apocalyptic thought—and, specifically, what I term cataclysmic apocalyptic thought (CAT)—partly lies in offering resources to navigate persistent challenges in ideal theory. The ideal theorist faces competing goals: formulating an ideal that is utopian and feasible. One potential approach to this challenge is CAT, which embraces a utopian ideal and declares it feasible through identifying crisis as the vehicle to realize it. /jats:p

Jones, The challenges of ideal theory and appeal of secular apocalyptic thought, 'European Journal of Political Theory' (19, 4) pp. 465-488. Copyright © 2017. DOI: 10.1177/1474885117722074. Users who receive access to an article through a repository are reminded that the article is protected by copyright and reuse is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses. Users may also download and save a local copy of an article accessed in an institutional repository for the user's personal reference. For permission to reuse an article, please follow our Process for Requesting Permission.



Work Title The Challenges of Ideal Theory and Appeal of Secular Apocalyptic Thought
Open Access
  1. Ben Jones
License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives)
Work Type Article
  1. SAGE Publications
Publication Date August 9, 2017
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
  1. 10.1177/1474885117722074
  1. European Journal of Political Theory
Deposited September 09, 2021




This resource is currently not in any collection.

Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added EJPTArticle2017-1.pdf
  • Added Creator Ben Jones
  • Published
  • Updated
  • Updated