Two refoundation projects of democracy in contemporary French philosophy: Cornelius Castoriadis and Jacques Ranciere

Philosophy and Social Criticism 27 (4):75-103 (2001)
Abstract
In this paper I examine two theories of democracy that can be found in contemporary French philosophy. Both Cornelius Castoriadis and Jacques Rancière offer a critique of modern democracy with the purpose of refounding it. The ‘refoundation narratives’ they propose are both based on an account of the origins of democracy in ancient Greece. According to Castoriadis, ancient democracy is grounded in a ‘magma’ of ‘social imaginary significations’ in which ‘autonomy’ is considered the correct response to Being defined as an insurmountable ‘Chaos’. On the contrary, modern democracy defines Being as a determinacy and consequently fails to grasp the notion of autonomy. According to Rancière, the origins of democracy are to be found in the invasion of the public space by ‘those without a part’ who consequently have no title to govern. The problem with the ‘domesticated’ modern democracy is that it denies the existence of Otherness; that is, of non-citizens excluded from the public space. Therefore it appears incapable of letting the ‘dis-agreement’ manifest itself and consequently incapable of transforming the ‘police’ order. After examining the meaning of both theories, I attempt to elucidate the difficulties encountered by each author in the attainment of his goal, which is that of refounding modern democracy
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DOI 10.1177/019145370102700404
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A Select Bibliography.Jacques Rancière - 2005 - Paragraph 28 (1):110-115.

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