Post-Foundational Political Thought: Political Difference in Nancy, Lefort, Badiou and Laclau

Post-Foundational Political Thought: Political Difference in Nancy, Lefort, Badiou and Laclau

Post-Foundational Political Thought: Political Difference in Nancy, Lefort, Badiou and Laclau

Post-Foundational Political Thought: Political Difference in Nancy, Lefort, Badiou and Laclau

Synopsis

A wide-ranging overview of the emergence of post-foundationalism and a survey of the work of its key contemporary exponents.This book presents the first systematic coverage of the conceptual difference between 'politics' (the practice of conventional politics: the political system or politicalforms of action) and 'the political' (a much more radical aspect which cannot be restricted to the realms of institutional politics). It is also the first introductory overview of post-foundationalism and the tradition of 'left Heideggerianism': the political thought of contemporary theorists who make frequent use of the idea of political difference: Jean-Luc Nancy, Claude Lefort, Alain Badiou and Ernesto Laclau. After an overviewof current trends in social post-foundationalism and a genealogical chapter on the historical emergence of the difference between the concepts of 'politics' and 'the political', the work of individual theorists is presented and discussed at length. Individual chapters are presented on the politicalthought of Jean-Luc Nancy (including Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe), Claude Lefort, Alain Badiou, and Ernesto Laclau (including Chantal Mouffe).

Excerpt

The controversy over the concept of the political is of a more serious
nature than yet another family quarrel among paradigms; it is about the
relevance or irrelevance of political philosophy to our times.

Agnes Heller (1991: 336)

The following study on post-foundational political thought navigates around a curious difference, which has assumed some currency in recent continental and Anglo-American political thought: the difference between politics and the political, or, in French, between la politique and le politique, or again, in German, between Politik and das Politische. As is well known, a distinctive notion of the political was developed first in the German-speaking world, where it was Carl Schmitt who famously – infamously for some – sought to differentiate the political from other domains of the social, including the domain of politics in the narrow sense (see Chapter 2). In 2001, the notion of the ‘political’, as explicitly differentiated from ‘politics’, has even been institutionally canonized, with Pierre Rosanvallon taking up a prestigious chair for the ‘modern and contemporary history of the political’ at the Collège de France (see Rosanvallon 2003). In the German-speaking world, the two most important historical dictionaries take account of the difference between Politik and das Politische (Sellin 1978; Vollrath 1989), and in the English-speaking world a strong notion of the political as differentiated from the ‘weak’ notion of politics has become a sort of household concept for those quarters of Anglo-American political theory that are receptive to continental thought (Beardsworth 1996; Dillon 1996; Stavrakakis 1999; Arditi and Valentine 1999; Williams 2000).

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