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Irena Rosenthal: The Potential and Strains of Agonic Democracy

Lecture organized by the Department of Practical Philosophy

Part 1 of Lecture Series Democracy in Debate

The work of Michel Foucault has become an important source of inspiration for so-called ‘agonic’ theories of democracy. Essentially, agonic democrats challenge the liberal claim that democracy needs to be based on a stable consensus and consider instability, contestation, and disagreement essential to the renewal of hegemonic practices and norms.

The first part of this lecture shows the potential of agonic conflicts for democratic life by confronting Foucault’s genealogy of the social contract tradition and his alternative understanding of freedom with one of the most influential liberal social contract theories in current political philosophy: John Rawls’ theory of political liberalism.

The second part focuses on the strains of democratic agonism: feelings of frustration and shame that arise when the participation in agonic conflicts remains unsuccessful. I turn to the psychoanalytic theory of Donald Winnicott to address this problem, introducing the notion of ‘transitional network’ to bring into view how emotional techniques may enhance the democratic resilience of excluded citizens.

Irena Rosenthal is assistant professor at the Department of Legal Theory at VU University of Amsterdam. She recently defended her dissertation which is entitled Democracy and Ontology: An Agonic Encounter between Political Liberalism, Foucault and Psychoanalysis. Her current research focuses on the affective dimension of democratic life, such as the affective conditions of democratic resilience.

Wednesday 14 November 2012, 15.15-17.00 hrs
Faculty of Philosophy, Oude Boteringestraat 52, room Omega

Laatst gewijzigd:10 juni 2016 15:06