Sustaining Affirmation: The Strengths of Weak Ontology in Political Theory

Sustaining Affirmation: The Strengths of Weak Ontology in Political Theory

by Stephen K. White
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0691050333

ISBN-13: 9780691050331

Pub. Date: 09/05/2000

Publisher: Princeton University Press

In light of many recent critiques of Western modernity and its conceptual foundations, the problem of adequately justifying our most basic moral and political values looms large. Without recourse to traditional ontological or metaphysical foundations, how can one affirm—or sustain—a commitment to fundamentals? The answer, according to Stephen White, lies

Overview

In light of many recent critiques of Western modernity and its conceptual foundations, the problem of adequately justifying our most basic moral and political values looms large. Without recourse to traditional ontological or metaphysical foundations, how can one affirm—or sustain—a commitment to fundamentals? The answer, according to Stephen White, lies in a turn to "weak" ontology, an approach that allows for ultimate commitments but at the same time acknowledges their historical, contestable character. This turn, White suggests, is already underway. His book traces its emergence in a variety of quarters in political thought today and offers a clear and compelling account of what this might mean for our late modern self-understanding.

As he elaborates the idea of weak ontology and the broad criteria behind it, White shows how these are already at work in the thought of contemporary writers of seemingly very different perspectives: George Kateb, Judith Butler, Charles Taylor, and William Connolly. Among these thinkers, often thought to be at odds, he exposes the commonalities that emerge around the idea of weak ontology. In its identification of a critical turn in political theory, and its nuanced explanation of that turn, his book both demonstrates and underscores the strengths of weak ontology.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691050331
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
09/05/2000
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)

Table of Contents

Prefaceix
Acknowledgmentsxi
Chapter 1Introduction: The Weak Ontological Turn3
1.1.Fundamental and Contestable6
1.2.A Stickier Subject8
1.3.Cultivation10
1.4.Circuits of Reflection, Affect, and Argumentation11
Chapter 2Ontological Undercurrents within Liberalism: George Kateb's "Democratic Individuality"18
2.1.The Ontology of Democratic Individuality20
2.2.From an Emersonian Ontology to Ethics and Politics30
Chapter 3The "Richer Ontology" of Charles Taylor42
3.1.Engaged Agency44
3.2.Theism and the Aesthetic-Expressive Dimension57
3.3.Prefiguring the Political69
Chapter 4Judith Butler's Being-in-Trouble75
4.1.Feminism and Foundations77
4.2."An Ontology of Present Participles"81
4.3."Indispensable" Foundations87
4.4.The Insistent Ambivalence of Loss98
Chapter 5The Ontology and Politics of a "Post-Nietzschean Sensibility": William Connolly106
5.1.Figuring and Cultivating Being as Rich and Fugitive107
5.2.The Ethos of "Agonistic Democracy"117
Conclusion151
Index155

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