Reinterpreting the Political

Continental Philosophy and Political Theory

Edited by Lenore Langsdorf, Stephen H. Watson, and Karen A. Smith

Subjects: Continental Philosophy
Series: SUNY series, Selected Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791437940, 330 pages, July 1998
Hardcover : 9780791437933, 330 pages, July 1998

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Table of contents

Introduction: The Question of the Political

I. Reinterpretations

1. Keirkegaard on Authoring and Identity fron the Perspective of Havel's Existential Revolution and Nonpolitical Politics

Martin J. Beck Matustík

2. A Nietzchean Defense of Democracy

Lawrence J. Hatabi

3. Husserl's Göttingen Years and the Genesis of a Theory of Community

R. Philip Buckley

4. Edith Stein's Phenomology of the State

Mary Catherine Basehart

5. Beauvoir and the Roots of Radical Feminism

Margaret A. Simons

6. Action, Passion, and Responsibility: Levinas's Circumcision of Consciousness

Robert D. Walsh

7. Lyotard's Kantian Account of the Subline and Democratic Discourse

Patrick F. Mckinlay

II. Theory and Politics: On the Fragmentation of the Political

8. The Circle of the Origin

Fabio Ciaramelli

9. Fichte, Habermas, and Luc Ferry

John Doody

10. Rights, Narrative, and Legal Practice

David M. Rasmussen

11. Reconsidering the Limits of Democracy with Castoriadias and Lefort

Steven Hendley

12. Against Dialoque

Michael Murray

13. Decentered Autonomy: The Subject after the Fall

Axel Honneth

14. American/French Intersections: The Play of Race/Class/Politics in Irigaray

Ellen T. Armour

III. A Cas in Point: The Uses of Foucault and the Legacies of Enlightenment

15. Beheading the King: Foucault on the Limits of Juridical Thought

Lawrence Hass

16. Power: Method of the Deployment of Sexuality

John Carvalho

17. Beyond Pluralism: Foucault's Strategic Counter to Heterosexist Categories

Ladelle McWhorter

18. Of Perestroika, Glasnost, and Badgers: Barthes and Foucault on Power and Discourse

Nancy J. Holland

19. Truth and Power in Foucault

James L. Marsh

20. Expert Discourse of Critique: Foucault as Power/Knowledge

Linda Alcoff

List of Contributors


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