From Demonization of the Masses to Democratic Practice in the Work of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Foucault

Human Studies 34 (4):373-392 (2011)
This paper argues that the dichotomy between individuals, as bearers of unique and freely chosen identities, and the masses, as the large numbers of others who are conforming and uncritical, should be understood as a constructed dichotomy. This dichotomy is both supported and dismantled in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Michel Foucault. Each of these thinkers reinforced the idea that there exist conforming and threatening masses from which individuals should separate themselves. And yet by theorizing the limitations and contextual nature of individual identity, they have also provided the foundations for revealing the dichotomy as illusory as well as problematic for reasoned thought and politics. The significance of this argument is that the fear of sameness and conformity within modern mass society creates a serious obstacle to broad based and democratic political engagement among people
Keywords Nietzsche  Heidegger  Foucault  Subjectivity  Masses  Postmodernism  Individualism
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