This article seeks to demonstrate that in his recent reading of the role of religion in the postsecular public realm, Habermas overlooks a most fundamental dimension of religion: its power to symbolically institute communities. For his part, Gauchet starts from a vision of religion in which this fundamental dimension is central. In his evaluation of the role of religion in postsecular society, he therefore arrives at results which are very different from those of Habermas. However, I believe that Gauchet too (...) underestimates the extent to which religion’s power of symbolic community institution has remained intact within modern, postsecular society. In support of this position, I show how relatively heterogeneous phenomena within Western societies, such as the renewed importance of religion in the public realm, the revival of certain forms of nationalism and the associated demand for recognition of group rights and hence for forms of legal pluralism, may prefigure a new transformation of the public realm. (shrink)
The general claim advanced in this article is that Foucault’s genealogy of the modern state traces two ideal-typically different power arrangements at the origin of the modern state, roughly referred to as ‘sovereign power’ and ‘governmentality’. They are ideal-typically different in that they operate according to a different logic, including different ends, means and modi operandi. The more specific claim, then, is that due to this different logic, their ever changing interpenetration on the level of the state is imbalanced. In (...) order for ‘governmentality’ to operate according to the law, it must be backed by the juridical frameworks provided by sovereign power, but then again these juridical frameworks prove inadequate and insufficient to curb ‘governmentality’s’ operational procedures as well as the modalities and intensities of its implementation. In other words, in his genealogy of the modern state, Foucault tracks down ‘governmentality’ as a distinctive form of power which, although intertwined with the state, cannot juridically be contained by the state. It cannot be appropriately restrained by its legal regulations and, as such, constitutes an excess vis-à-vis those regulations. (shrink)
This article sets up a dialogue between Lefort’s view on the relationship between state and modern society and Foucault’s thesis of a governmental turn in the modern power regime. Whereas Lefort’s political ontology leaves room for divergent agencies from which the symbolic institution of the social may unfold, his preoccupation with democracy leads him to link the symbolic institution of modern society inseparably with the functioning of the modern state. By contrast, Foucault’s history of governmentality documents a shift in the (...) regime of the symbolic institution of modern society. Where that institution hitherto relied on the state, today, a symbiosis of state and neoliberal governmentality seems to take over. Foucault’s highlighting of the neoliberal conception of a generalized market may thus undermine the ontological role Lefort formerly ascribed to the state. In conclusion it is suggested that this shift in power regime is by and large responsible for the readjustment of the instituting representations of contemporary society, the de-politicization of political and social relations, and the erosion of democracy. (shrink)
ABSTRACT One of the productive political-philosophical concepts Foucault developed is that of governmentality. According to Foucault, governmentality is in many respects the heir of pastoral power. However, Foucault has never conclusively demonstrated the genealogical link between pastoral power and governmentality. The hypothesis that I want to put forward is that the “missing link” in this genealogy should be situated in the governmental transformations that took place in the period of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, more specifically in the period of the (...) “confessionalization”. To substantiate this claim, I briefly discuss the ideal-typical relationship between pastoral power and governmentality while indicating how Foucault accounts for this relationship. I then criticise his account by showing that it fails to expose the genealogical link between pastoral power and governmentality. Finally, I show how, from a genealogical point of view, the confessionalization theory makes a convincing connection between the revival of pastoral power during the Reformation and the development of a “confessional governmentality” in which religious and secular authorities intersect. (shrink)
Kant’s essay An answer to the question: What is Enlightenment? has developed into the representative text of philosophical Enlightenment in the course of the past two hundred years. Yet most interpretations tend to assign to it a univocal meaning that is incompatible with its apparent polysemy. While taking the latter into account, the author closely investigates Kant’s essay and offers a balanced interpretation of its meaning. On the basis of this reading, it becomes apparent that we should understand Kant’s idea (...) of the enlightenment process in a normative sense. As a result, the emphasis in the text shifts from a historico-philosophical promise of an “Enlightened Age” to the view of a precarious, risky “Age of Enlightenment” which Kant claims to live in. There is ample textual evidence that Kant wanted to intervene with this essay by cherishing the hope for more enlightenment. (shrink)
The theory of reflexive modernization plausibly advocates postnational cosmopolitanism. As the nation state is eroding today, we are becoming citizens of a ‘global risk society’ whose unity and cohesion is generated by the risk that is threatening us world-wide. By the same token, this world risk society is no longer unified in any political sense. There is no world state; its very idea is even rejected. In this sense, the cosmopolitanism argued for in the theory of reflexive modernization proves predominantly (...) to be an extrapolation of civil society on a global scale, while, strictly speaking, having no cosmo‘political’ counterpart. Building on Marcel Gauchet’s political philosophy, the article questions the cosmopolitanism-beyond-the-political position of the theory of reflexive modernization. To do so, it goes substantially into Gauchet’s view of the representational role of the political as an essential dimension in society formation. (shrink)
According to Gauchet we are living in a `society of individuals'. But a central term is missing from that formula, and not by any accident, for contemporary society has lost it from view: the term of the political. In sum, thus reads Gauchet's diagnosis, society today is haunted by a kind of individualism out of which no society can be conceived, as it obfuscates its political dimension. The aim of this article is to elaborate this diagnosis, and more specifically the (...) idea that there is no society, and therefore no individual either, without the political. In order to do so, I will explore the meaning of the formula `society of individuals'. Within the scope of this analysis, I shall primarily pay attention to the `primacy of the political' in Gauchet. To conclude, I will assess Gauchet's diagnosis, by fathoming in what sense contemporary individualism, besides being an `eclipse of the political', is also a threat to democracy. (shrink)
Relying on Niklas Luhmann's systems theoretical redescription of modern society, this article aims at questioning the basic theoretical notions of the ongoing inclusion/exclusion debate. The most remarkable aspect of Luhmann's reassessment of the inclusion/exclusion relationship within functionally differentiated societies is that individuals are basically situated within the exclusion domain of society, and thus cannot but partially be included within society's function systems and organizations. This reassessment not only allows Luhmann to raise fundamental questions with respect to the implicit norm of (...) full inclusion which still dominates the debate on inclusion and exclusion, but it also directs his attention to the different inclusion/exclusion conditions within function systems, organizations and interaction systems. Eventually Luhmann's position comes down to the idea that exclusion rather than inclusion is the rule, and, moreover, that inclusions differ from one another. The article closes off with a critical evaluation of Luhmann's redescription of the inclusion/exclusion debate. It is argued that systems theory might suffer from empirical deficiency, as it seems to have difficulties to detect and to depict the actual mechanisms of social exclusion without resorting to theories that are more geared to empirical reality and that are of help in observing it. Key Words: evolution function systems inclusion/exclusion Niklas Luhmann networks organizations. (shrink)
Wij zijn de erfgenamen van de verlichting, maar toch kunnen we vandaag niet langer verlicht zijn zoals de achttiende-eeuwers dat waren. Daarvoor hebben vooral geschiedenis, maar ook de actuele processen van multiculturalisme en mondialisering de idealen van de verlichting te zeer ‘onttoverd’. Maar misschien zitten er nog mogelijkheden in een reflexieve verlichting: een verlichting die zich bewust is van haar eigen grenzen, en precies daarom ook accepteert te kunnen verschijnen in een veelheid van nieuwe gestalten. Tot die slotsom kan men (...) althans komen bij een terugblik op twee eeuwen verlichting. (shrink)
Symbolen, zo luidt de gemeenplaats, zijn een zaak van taal en kunst – van literatuur en plastische kunst, en ook wel van religie en spiritualiteit –, maar niet van politiek. Nochtans is de band tussen politiek en symboliek niet vreemd. Iedereen kent wel politieke symbolen of heeft het wel eens over symbooldossiers in de politiek. In wat volgt wil ik duidelijk maken dat dit te maken heeft met wat de politiek doet: het symboliseren van de gemeenschap.
It can hardly be denied that since Schelling’s early comment on Plato’s Timaeus was published. Schellingiana, Vol. 4, Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog, 1994, 177 pp.) the research on Schelling’s philosophical beginnings has been thoroughly renewed. This text documented for the first time Schelling’s in-depth acquaintance with Plato while he studied in Tübingen and exhibited at the same time his characteristically Kantian reading and understanding of Plato’s theory of creation. Two years later, in 1996, Michael Franz refined Schelling’s view on Plato during his (...) years in Tübingen, by commenting on hitherto unpublished new material from the Berliner Nachlass. With Tanja Gloyna’s Kosmos und System, another major study is added to the attempt at unravelling the significance of Platonic philosophy to Schelling’s early writings. (shrink)
RÉSUMÉ : Dans sa lecture du rôle de la religion dans l’espace public, Habermas fait abstraction du pouvoir de la religion d’instituer symboliquement les communautés. Gauchet part d’une vision de la religion dans laquelle cette dimension est centrale. Je considère toutefois que Gauchet sous-estime également la mesure dans laquelle la religion a conservé ce pouvoir au sein de la société post-séculière. ABSTRACT: This article seeks to demonstrate that in his reading of the role of religion in the public realm, Habermas (...) has overlooked religion’s power to symbolically institute communities. Although Gauchet starts from a vision of religion in which this dimension is central, I contend that he too underestimates the extent in which religion has retained this power within postsecular society. (shrink)
Resistance as ‘Counter-conduct’. On the Usefulness of Foucault’s concept of Contre-conduiteThis paper intends to clarify the peculiarity of counter-conduct as a form of resistance and to examine its usefulness in our neoliberal era. In view thereof, it takes off with a general discussion of Foucault’s views of the relationship between power and resistance. Then the focus shifts more specifically to governmentality and its predecessor, pastoral power, as the specific type of power against which counter-conduct as a form of resistance is (...) directed. This investigation allows in the next step to fathom the uniqueness of counter-conduct as a peculiar form of resistance and to find out whether it is appropriate to resist neoliberal governmentality. The paper concludes by pointing out a major weakness of counter-conduct, viz. its unlikelihood to develop into forms of collective resistance. (shrink)
Aanleiding voor dit nummer over 'democratie en representatie' is het overlijden, op 3 oktober van vorig jaar, van een van de belangrijkste naoorlogse politieke denkers in Frankrijk, Claude Lefort . Omdat we niet zozeer de man, maar des te meer zijn ideeën willen memoreren hebben we ervoor geopteerd om de kern van zijn politiek-filosofische nalatenschap onder de aandacht te brengen. Zonder twijfel is dat het inzicht in de onlosmakelijke verwevenheid van democratie en representatie.
The state of political philosophy1In this article we attempt to do what is by definition impossible: providing a complete picture of the discipline of political philosophy today. We start by presenting the three thematic subfields in which most research seems to be taking place: democracy, justice, and what we call the ‘postnational constellation’. This latter subfield in particular is growing ever larger. The context of globalization increasingly urges political philosophers to reformulate all classical questions about democracy and justice, as is (...) visible in discussions about global justice, governance, cosmopolitanism, federalism, or the ‘commons’. After surveying the main themes of contemporary political philosophy, we discuss a number of methodological evolutions and controversies. We look for instance at the role of intellectual-historical research; not only does the quality and the quantity of such research continue to rise, it is also well-connected to contemporary debates and clearly inspires and refines these debates. Most attention, though, is given to the ongoing confrontation between ‘normative’ political theorists and so-called ‘realists’. The former believe that political philosophers should not just contemplate social and political reality, but should also propose guidelines for the design of social institutions, and should maybe even actively contribute to realizing these proposals. ‘Realists’, by contrast, believe that political philosophy, as a branch of philosophy, should aim for insight in the dynamics of political action, in human relations and motivations as they become visible in politics, and in the role of the political sphere in society. We conclude our article with a critical note on the incompleteness of our survey. (shrink)
ONE OF THE MOST INTRIGUING EPISODES in Schelling’s philosophical development is the transition from the System des transzendentalen Idealismus to the Darstellung meines Systems der Philosophie, the starting point of the identity system. Looking back on that latter text, Schelling in 1805 declares that “then to me the light went on in philosophy.” This sounds as if the preceding years of philosophical investigation, including the System des transzendentalen Idealismus that was written one year earlier, had to be considered merely propaedeutic (...) and that the Darstellung was his real entry into philosophy. Schelling maintained this view of his philosophical development and in the contemporary Schelling-Forschung scholars widely agree that the Darstellung, being the outset of the identity system, marks the birthplace of so-called absolute idealism—to which Hegel’s system of philosophy probably still is the most spectacular and successful heir. But if this common interpretation is true—and I would not deny it in the generality in which it is stated—then the question inevitably arises: what happened in the transition from the System des transzendentalen Idealismus to the Darstellung, and above all, what made this transition possible? What, in other words, caused the constitution of absolute idealism? (shrink)