In the article "Context is king": John Pocock, historian of political languages" Mikhail Velizhev and Timur Atnashev interpret the basic premises of the Cambridge methodology as applied to the history of political philosophy, and discuss the interdisciplinary approach of one of its founders, John Pocock, introducing his works to the Russian intellectual context for the first time. The article covers Pocock's biography as a scholar and his methodological program, the reception of the Cambridge School in Russia and, in particular, the limits to applying this methodology in analyzing Russian political languages.
The Cambridge School of political thought embraces several historians (John Pocock, Quentin Skinner, John Dunn) who began working at Cambridge in the 1960s and offered a unique approach to the study of social-political ideas. These authors insisted that political thinking is historical in its nature, and for that reason it should be studied in historical and ideological contexts. They also insisted that political ideas should not be considered as concepts that are separated from life or as a “tradition” which has persisted from Plato to the present. In recent years there have been attempts to adapt the method of the Cambridge School to a Russian context. The author insists that there are specific reasons why this is nearly impossible to achieve. This becomes obvious when the activity of the Cambridge School is situated in different contexts — in the context of the social and philosophical thinking in Britain of the 1960s, in the context of American political theory from the last quarter of the 20th century, and in the context of republican social philosophy of the early 20th рcentury. One then finds first that the methodology of the Cambridge School went through considerable transformations as early as the mid-1970s; and second that the interests of scholars shifted either to political theory or to history for which their approach is not applicable for certain reasons. The author concludes that a continuation of the project of the Cambridge School is possible at best only in the field of contemporary social and political philosophy and not in the study of European political thought of the 15th through 17th centuries or American political thought of the 18th century.