Immanuel Kant and the Theory of Radical Democracy
Vaprin, Nathanael William
This dissertation is intended as an intervention in the interminable and apparently antinomical philosophical exchange between political theories of radical democracy descended from Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe and liberal democracy descended from John Rawls. Radical democrats have deployed the friend-enemy distinction of Carl Schmitt to criticize liberal democracy as hypocritical and ultimately undemocratic in its refusal to critique its own ground; liberal democrats have riposted by characterizing radical democracy as dangerously anarchic. In this project, I read Immanuel Kant in dialog with the work of Ingeborg Maus to show in a novel way that contemporary radical democratic theories ultimately fall to the very critique upon which they indict liberal democracy, that they degenerate into the valorization of mere war, and that it was in fact in full recognition of this dynamic that Kant’s theory of liberal democracy begins. Kant’s theory of countervailing liberalism is ultimately discovered to be a politics of love over barbarism. The project ranges over a wide ground, from a close reading of Kant, to the 19th Century Pantheismusstreit, to works by Arendt, Hardt and Negri, Žižek, and Strauss.
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