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A Leftist Ontology: Beyond Relativism and Identity Politics by Carsten Strathausen, William E. Connolly

By Carsten Strathausen, William E. Connolly

Rich with analyses of thoughts from deconstruction, structures conception, and post-Marxism, with evaluations of fundamentalist proposal and the warfare on terror, this quantity argues for constructing a philosophy of being so that it will triumph over the drawback of postmodern relativism. Undergirding the contributions are the premises that ontology is a crucial notion for philosophy at the present time, that an appropriate leftist ontology needs to stay away from the type of id politics that has ruled fresh cultural reviews, and new ontology has to be positioned inside international capitalism. A Leftist Ontology deals a well timed intervention in political philosophy, that includes a number of the prime voices of our time.

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It has become customary these days to denounce any reference to the Left as mere rhetoric devoid of substance-a position propagated not only by John Stossel and mainstream media, but also in academic circles. A typical example is the increasingly positive reception of Carl Schmitt by the former left-wing academic journal Telos. Paul Piccone, one of its senior editors, recently argued that "the Left/Right split has actually been a political Trojan horse" ever since the French Revolution. ' Such academic conformism, Gumbrecht insists, restricts the very freedom of thought it claims to defend.

Mouffe's radical democratic position coincides with the premises of a leftist ontology outlined above. "46 Ernesto Laclau differs from Mouffe on this point. "47 Why? 48 Laclau's argument-namely that the ethical imperative to cultivate openness "does not follow" logically from the impossibility of social closure is correct. Logically speaking, Mouffe's ethical denunciation of political acts that seek to establish social closure falls prey to the same critique she herself levels against liberals such as Habermas and Rawls.

Indeed, the effort to think the outside as a constitutive and malleable part of the inside has been crucial for post-Marxist theory over the last two decades. Insisting on the possibility of historical change and hegemonic interventions, Laclau and Mouffe refer to the social field as an ontological horizon rather than an ontological ground. Whereas ground is a foundationalist term that reintroduces the surface-depth distinction, horizon implies an ever-receding, historically shifting borderline that remains internal to the social and defies the internal/external distinction: This irresoluble interiority/exteriority tension is the condition of any social practice: necessity only exists as a partial limitation of the field of contingency.

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