"Is there any such thing as political philosophy?" So begins this
provocative book by one of the foremost figures in Continental
thought. Here, Jacques Ranciere brings a new and highly useful set
of terms to the vexed debate about political effectiveness in the
face of a new world order.
What precisely is at stake in the relationship between
"philosophy" and the adjective "political"? In Disagreement,
Ranciere explores the apparent contradiction between these terms
and reveals the uneasy meaning of their union in the phrase
"political philosophy" -- a juncture related to age-old attempts in
philosophy to answer Plato's devaluing of politics as a "democratic
According to Ranciere, the phrase also expresses the paradox of
politics itself: the absence of a proper foundation. Politics, he
argues, begins when the "demos" (the "excessive" or unrepresented
part of society) seeks to disrupt the order of domination and
distribution of goods "naturalized" by police and legal
institutions. In addition, the notion of "equality" operates as a
game of contestation that constantly substitutes litigation for
political action and community. This game, Ranciere maintains,
operates by a primary logic of "misunderstanding". In turn,
political philosophy has always tried to substitute the "politics
of truth" for the politics of appearances.
Disagreement investigates the various transformations of this
regime of "truth" and their effects on practical politics. Ranciere
then distinguishes what we mean by "democracy" from the practices
of a consensual system in order to unravel the ramifications of the
fashionable phrase "the end of politics". His conclusions will be
of interest toreaders concerned with political questions from the
broadest to the most specific and local.
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