A politics of the ordinary: Wittgenstein and new familial practices
Peter, Mark E.
My thesis aims to defend Wittgenstein’s concept of the “ordinary” as a unique conception of “home” which can model a form of political subjectivity crucial for our complex form of contemporary life. I use the term of the “ordinary” as the guiding thread both in understanding Wittgenstein’s original reception and in describing the major extensions of his work for political thought. The conservative phase in the literature saw the ordinary as promoting a culture of conformity (Marcuse, Gellner). The second radical phase defined the groundlessness of the ordinary as the basis for the political (Mouffe). The Cavellian phase saw the ordinary as a perfectionist project that is formed out of the skeptical tradition of self-reflection. These phases culminate into what I call a politics of the ordinary as a kind of micro-politics, in being open to the various, minute ways political subjectivity is negotiated and reconstituted in our everyday life. One example I explore is the reformulation of the family in adoption practices. The politics of the ordinary describe a Wittgensteinian model for critically transforming our everyday life as how we should enter into our lives “politically”—in negotiating the world we live in together.