Departmental Bulletin Paper Twenty Theses on Politics and Subjectivity

Bosteels, Bruno

46pp.21 - 39 , 2016-03 , Institute for Research in Humanities Kyoto University
International Symposium "Provided that this lasts…": Politics, Subject, and Contemporary Philosophy (January 12th, 2015)
Colloque international « Pourvu que ça dure… » : Politique, Sujet et Philosophie contemporaine (le 12 janvier 2015)
In French theory and beyond, the shift between structuralism and poststructuralism marks a pivotal turning point in the broader process of problematizing the question of political subjectivity. Two dominant trends can be distinguished in this context: one still connected to Marxism and the dialectic, for which politics is inseparable from a process of subjectivization; and the other very much aimed against the Hegelo-Marxist dialectic in the name of difference, for which the subject remains irreparably metaphysical. If in the latter tendency, associated with the legacy of Heidegger's thinking, the most we obtain is an intimation of an ontology of "being-with" as the basis for an inoperative "community, " then in the former tendency, associated with the legacy of Althusser's canonical works, the argument in favor of the political subject is frequently formulated in terms of a plea in favor of maintaining the category of "the people." The problem with this new consensus, however, is that the resulting theory of the subject, articulated onto the gap or incompleteness of the structure, has once again become ontologized as a new law. More so than a reshuffling of the familiar deck of philosophical cards, the current impasse in the theory of politics and subjectivity requires a two-fold historicization. Not only should we expand on the notion of "historical modes of politics, " but, in addition, we should also historicize the different "theories of the subject, " in the plural, from which the new post-Hegelian consensus has been able to emerge uncontested by consolidating itself as if it were the only theory of the subject that ever existed.

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