requiem for certainty

Posts Tagged ‘democracy

Dewey on Society (from 1888 to 1916)

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Contemporary political theory is haunted by a pair of interwoven ambiguities between pluralism and monism on the one hand and proceduralism and moralism on the other.  I find a valuable early example of these ambiguities in the work of democratic theorist and pragmatist philosopher John Dewey.  What follows is a historical redescription of this ambiguity in Dewey as we chart the chronology of his democratic theory from his early Hegelian phase (in 1888) to his later explicitly pragmatist (but still ambiguous) philosophy (in 1916).

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Written by Colin Koopman

April 19, 2011 at 5:08 pm

(Preliminary) Response to Lessig

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A number of political theorists have concluded that the new set of technologies and practices known as the internet undermines some of the core epistemic, civic, and moral conditions for democratic culture.  See, for instance, my post on Cass Sunstein’s Republic.com 2.o.  I disagree with Sunstein et. al. but I find their arguments worth addressing.

One way of addressing these arguments is to take them seriously but to offer some kind of response, perhaps provisional, as to how the challenges contained therein might be met.  This is how I have been reading the work of cultural critic and Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig (at least this is how I have been reading it this week).  Lessig’s work is probably the most important of that which tries to respond to the problems laid out by Sunstein and others.  It is the most important not only because the most influential, but also because the most radical. Lessig’s work is also usefully representative insofar as it aims to respond to the problems posed by seeking to restore the familiar equilibria of liberal democracy as we have known it for quite some time now.

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Written by Colin Koopman

February 27, 2009 at 8:33 pm

“There is no understanding of Obama without an understanding of Pragmatism”

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Check out Aboulafia on Obama’s pragmatism over at TPM (or over at Aboulafia’s blog).

Aboulafia’s point: Obama the experimentalist, Obama the fallibilist, Obama the pluralist.  All that is missing here: Obama the meliorist (a fancy word for ‘hope-ism’).  And that is where he might really make a difference in reinvigorating a pragmatist, an American, a democratic politics of self-governance.

Written by Colin Koopman

December 20, 2008 at 10:10 pm

Emerging Digital Practices

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Another angle I have been looking at in recent work is a sort of half applied-philosophy half theoretical-ethnography project concerning contemporary digital/internet practices. I am only just now kicking this work off. And I certainly have many more questions than answers. I’m in need of collaborators of all sorts in this so please post comments or email me your thoughts. The basic idea of the research project is an inquiry into the new forms of public and private space that are emerging around and within contemporary digital practices. This is currently shaping up as… Read the rest of this entry »