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Democracy and Ontology

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image of Research in Phenomenology

This paper elaborates a conception of the relationship between Philosophy and the Political which would not be one of exteriority but one of an intertwining between them. An analogy with Rémi Brague, who presents the conditions whereby the concept of 'the world' became a thematic object of reflection (The Wisdom of the World), is proposed to show the emergence of the concept of 'the political.' Following Lefort's philosophy, we trace the emergence of modern democracy with that of the political by claiming that there is an ontological dimension of the political. As the concept of the world could not emerge within a conception of the universe that united man and world in an organic whole, so too the concept of the political cannot emerge when the discourse on power is determined theologically (premodern societies). It is argued that there is an ontological dimension to the revolutions that introduced our political modernity. Modern revolutions are not simply a change in a form of governance; they effect a mutation in the symbolic order of a society by which the political, as such, can become visible. The indetermination of modern democracy corresponds to "the disappearance of the markers of certainty" that characterize the modern experience of the world, an experience that reveals a transformed ontological dimension. This dimension of uncertainty, the experience of the place of power as an "empty place," is contrasted with the totalitarian impulse to fill this empty place with a determinate image, e.g., the Party, the Fürher.

Affiliations: 1: Empire State College

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