Jared Holley is interested in modern ideas about the economic and aesthetic dimensions of democracy and their intellectual history. His work to date has focused on three interrelated areas: the political theory of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the deep resonance of ancient philosophy in the moral and political thought of the long eighteenth-century, and the critical engagement with that period by historically-minded political theorists in the twentieth.
Jared's first book manuscript, entitled A Taste for Virtue: refined Epicureanism and Rousseau’s political thought, argues that in order to understand the form of modern political freedom envisioned by Rousseau, we have to understand his theory of taste as ‘refined Epicureanism’. This perspective provides a new way of both understanding Rousseau’s legacy in nineteenth-century liberalism, and of systematically clarifying the role of political economy and aesthetic judgment in his theory of popular sovereignty.
As a Max Weber Fellow, Jared will begin a new research project on the conceptual history of ‘solidarity’. Solidarity has roots as an economic concept in the Roman Law of obligations, and modern theorists expanded its scope by drawing on aesthetics to emphasize the individual’s duty to imagined communities that transcend local, regional, and national contexts.
He takes his historical cue from the natural-law philosophy of Karl C.F. Krause (1781-1832). Centered politically on the notion of solidarity, Krause’s work became the dominant legal philosophy of the liberal revolutions in Spain (c. 1854-1874) and subsequently inspired schools of krausismo in Latin America that influenced leading figures of the Cuban Revolution like Jose Marti, Che Guevara, and Fidel Castro. Solidarity provided actors in colonial educational networks with a means of articulating a political theory that mediated between liberal-capitalist individualism and communist collectivism. While solidarity remains a crucial concept in contemporary political discourse, even critical theories of ‘differentiated’ or ‘democratic’ solidarity rely on a Euro-centric historical archive. A comparative approach to this transnational flow of ideas excavates a neglected chapter in the conceptual history of solidarity. This, Jared argues, yields a normative model of solidarity better able to facilitate critical praxis among and with engaged communities of contemporary political activists.