Reinterpreting the Political
Continental Philosophy and Political Theory
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Rereads classical figures in continental thought, takes up current topics in the legacy of political theory, and analyzes and evaluates Foucault's work as a prime manifestation of the complicated modern interface between truth and power, institution and liberation.
The task of reinterpretation arises from recognition, within continental philosophy, of a certain abandonment of political philosophy for historicism or a scientistic search for laws. Contemporary debate over the death of the possibility of the subject now focuses on the links among knowledge, virtue and power. As a result, the ancient problem of the institution of the form of the political becomes linked with struggles intrinsic to the task of representation and recognition. The problem now becomes one of understanding the meaning of judgment, autonomy, and consensus in the midst of the fragmentation of the hierarchies that structure the political, and have structured the thinking (from Plato to Hegel) that we identify as metaphysical. Such fragmentation doubtless is the ancient inheritance of democracy, but now without the metaphysical assurance of a transcendental authority, whether resident in nature, community, or the monarch as embodiment of the sacred. Perhaps it is in Foucault's work, more than anywhere else, that the investigation of the complicated modern interface between truth and power, and institution and liberation, occurs.
In reinterpreting the political, recognition of ideological forces in the legacy of modernity in its theoretical and institutional forms cannot be escaped—particularly in recognizing the underdetermined character of the subject matter. This collection represents rich examples of such reinterpretations. It begins with rereading the classical figures in continental thought and then takes up current topics in the legacy of political theory. The final section provides analyses and evaluations of Foucault's work.
Lenore Langsdorf is Professor of the Philosophy of Communication in the Speech Communication Department of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She is coeditor with Andrew R. Smith of Recovering Pragmatism's Voice: The Classical Tradition, Rorty, and the Philosophy of Communication and coeditor with Stephen H. Watson of Phenomenology, Interpretation, and Community, both published by SUNY Press. She is also editor of the SUNY Press series in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences. Stephen H. Watson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of Extensions: Essays on Interpretation, Rationality, and the Closure of Modernism, also published by SUNY Press.
"…anyone interested in what continental thinkers provide in terms of new concepts or ideas for addressing political problems and issues should read the articles in this collection. " — Philosophy in Review