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Rancière and Contemporary Political Problems

Johns Hopkins University Press
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  • Design
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science


Rancière and Contemporary Political Problems Rancie`re and Contemporary Political Problems The Political: Relational or Foundational? Through a critical interrogation of the relation between political philosophy and politics Rancie`re elaborates a notion of the political characterized in terms of division, conflict and polemic. For Rancie`re the received view which sees relations between systems of speculative thought and the real world of politics as necessarily divergent is misleading. Despite claims to the contrary each side of the relation shares a common understanding of politics as epiphenomena of an originary unity which each seeks to maintain against the persistence of conflict and division. In effect, philosophy ‘puts an end to the political, by employing metaphorical resources which at once distance it utterly from empirical politics and allow it to coincide exactly with it’.1 For Rancie`re the solidarity of philosophy and politics is subsumed within the notion of the police which designates an activity through which each individual is maintained in an allotted place within the order of society. Thus: ‘The basis of the politics of the philosophers is the identity of the principle of politics as an activity with that of the police as a way of determining the partition of the perceptible that defines the lot of individuals and parties’.2 In short, the solidarity of philosophy and politics is the coincidence of an order of being and an order of ruling derived from and reducible to a unity prior to both. One might say that for Rancie`re the relation between philosophy and politics is a response to the problem of the political in which philosophy comes off worst. At best philosophy enjoys a distinctly under-laboured relation with politics. Against the identity of philosophy and politics Rancie`re affirms a notion of the political as the primacy of irreducible conflict between the police and the paradoxical ‘part which has no part’. Rancie`re provides a positive expression of this par

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