Alumni

Left on the road to utopia Social imaginary in the age of democracy

View Full Record
Description: In this dissertation, I address the role of the social imaginary in the age of democracy. I first show that we live in the "age of democracy" by looking at the works of modern thinkers such as Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Rousseau and de Tocqueville. They see democracy as an overcoming of what I called "epistemocracy." Then I turn my attention to the debate that occurred in the early and the mid-twentieth century on "the End of Ideology." This debate that still influences us today shaped the way we think of democracy; we oppose it to all that is ideological and utopian. But this position is paradoxical because on the one hand it rejects the "atemporality" of ideology and utopia, but on the other it places itself outside of time in order to make its claim. This is referred to as "Mannheim's paradox." Thanks to the work of Paul Ricoeur, I show that narratives are unsurpassable and that we ought to see them as constitutive of reality. I show that this is dominant theme throughout Ricoeur's life and work where he insists that the modern and autonomous subject of modernity must be rejected and a new form of subjectivity, one that understands finitude and one that is linguistically mediated, must be retrieved. I then apply this general philosophy to Ricoeur's reading of ideology and utopia, whereby each plays a necessary role of sedimentation--in the case of ideology--and of innovation--in the case of utopia. Once the social imaginary is retrieved, I move to the work of radical democrats--Claude Lefort, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe--to show that radical democracy is the most compatible form of democracy with Ricoeur's thought. Lefort will show that Ricoeur is right in believing that power is symbolically mediated and that is ultimately groundless. Laclau and Mouffe will also complement Ricoeur's philosophy by showing that dissent is also linguistically and symbolically mediated.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work