The goal of this article is to show that mainstream liberal accounts of civil disobedience fail to fully capture the latter’s specific characteristics as a genuinely political and democratic practice of contestation that is not reducible to an ethical or legal understanding either in terms of individual conscience or of fidelity to the rule of law. In developing this account in more detail, I first define civil disobedience with an aim of spelling out why the standard liberal model, while providing (...) a useful starting point, ultimately leads to an overly constrained, domesticated and sanitized understanding of this complex political practice. Second, I place the political practice of civil disobedience between two opposing poles: symbolic politics and real confrontation. I argue that the irreducible tension between these poles precisely accounts for its politicizing and democratizing potential. Finally, I briefly examine the role of civil disobedience in representative democracies, addressing a series of recent challenges made in response to this radically democratic understanding of disobedience. (shrink)
This article argues that, far from being a merely defensive act of individual protest, civil disobedience is a much more radical political practice. It is transformative in that it aims at the politicization of questions that are excluded from the political domain and at reconfiguring public space and existing institutions, often in comprehensive ways. Focusing on the reconstitution of the political community also allows us to reconceptualize constituent power. Rather than portraying it as a quasi-mythical force erupting only in extraordinary (...) moments, constituent power can be conceptualized as a dynamic situated within established orders, transgressing their logic and reconfiguring them from within. Civil disobedience as a transformative and potentially comprehensive practice aimed at reconstituting the political order can then be seen as an internal driving force keeping this dialectic in play. A concrete example can be found in protests and border struggles by irregularized migrants. They show how unexp... (shrink)
This book provides an overview of recent debates about critical theory from Pierre Bourdieu via Luc Boltanski to the Frankfurt School. Robin Celikates investigates the relevance of the self-understanding of ordinary agents and of their practices of critique for the theoretical and emancipatory project of critical theory.
In this paper, we develop an understanding of recognition in terms of individuals’ capacity for conflict. Our goal is to overcome various shortcomings that can be found in both the positive and negative conceptions of recognition. We start by analyzing paradigmatic instances of such conceptions—namely, those put forward by Axel Honneth and Judith Butler. We do so in order to show how both positions are inadequate in their elaborations of recognition in an analogous way: Both fail to make intelligible the (...) fundamental nexus between relations of recognition and individuals’ capacity for conflict. We then move on to reconsider aspects of Hegel's view of recognition—ones that, from our viewpoint, have been unjustly neglected in the debate about recognition: his focus on the constitution of relations of recognition in conflict and on the status of being an author of acts of recognition. On this basis, we then spell out in a more systematic way what we take to be a more convincing conception of recognition. This puts us in the position to gesture at some consequences of this conception in practical contexts, above all with regard to the justification, role and structure of political institutions. (shrink)
Fabian Freyenhagen's impressive reconstruction of Adorno's ‘practical philosophy’ provides a convincing defence of the possibility of making normative claims about the social world we live in without justifying these claims in terms of the right, the good, or human nature. More specifically, and more controversially, Freyenhagen argues that the normative resources Adorno's critique relies on are provided by a negative Aristotelianism. In this paper, I argue that this approach underestimates the extent to which Adorno follows the model of immanent critique, (...) I highlight the socio-theoretical underpinnings of what Freyenhagen calls Adorno's ‘ethics of resistance’, and I discuss the risk of overstating the danger of co-optation that collective political action faces. (shrink)
Is the Internet one of the causes of the crisis of the public sphere or does it rather provide a way to address this crisis? Do new forms of digital activism undermine the functioning of existing democratic institutions or open up new avenues for democratic participation? In this paper I address these questions by discussing the traditional Habermasian notion of the public sphere and the challenge that the digitalization of communication and collective action poses to it. After showing that digitalization (...) indeed leads to a new structural transformation of the public sphere, I distinguish ways in which this development can be both detrimental to and beneficial for the project of a democratic public sphere in the 21st century. (shrink)
This book collects essays from the 2006 and 2007 International Philosophy Colloquia Evian, centred around a central problem in the philosophy of mind: the relationship between the human faculty of sensory experience and the faculty of conceptual reflection, that is self-consciousness. Containing articles by philosophers of eight nationalities, in three languages (English, French, German), and of "analytical" as well as "continental" provenance, it beautifully represents the spirit of the colloquia. Authors include Joshua Andresen (AU Beirut), Valérie Aucouturier (Kent U / (...) U Paris I), Karin de Boer (KU Leuven), Santiago Echeverri (U Genève), Roberto Farneti (LU Bolzano), Tim Henning (JLU Giessen), Felix Koch (Columbia U), Christophe Laudou (Madrid), David Lauer (FU Berlin), Jason Leddington (Bucknell U), Nicolas Monseu (UC Louvain), Soraya Nour (HU Berlin), Hans Bernhard Schmid (U Wien), Henning Tegtmeyer (U Leipzig). (shrink)