Transcript: James Tully on Political Philosophy and Enlightenment | Mar 25, 2001

A slate with two Doric columns reads "James Tully. 'What is Political Philosophy and do we still need it?' University of Victoria."

[applause]

James Tully stands behind a wooden lectern in a university classroom and addresses a full room. He's in his late fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit, white shirt and spotted black tie.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "James Tully. University of Victoria. 'What is Political Philosophy?'"

James says I WOULD LIKE TO USE THIS
SEMINAR TO ELUCIDATE
THE APPROACH TO POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY THAT
I'VE BEEN TRYING TO DEVELOP
AND EMPLOY IN BOTH
MY CONTEMPORARY STUDIES
AND MY HISTORICAL STUDIES.
OF COURSE THERE ARE MANY
ENLIGHTENING APPROACHES
TO THE STUDY OF THE WAY
HUMANS GOVERN THEMSELVES.
THEY OFFER DIFFERENT
PERSPECTIVES ON AND
DISCLOSE DIFFERENT ASPECTS
OF THIS ENDLESSLY COMPLEX
AND FASCINATING PHENOMENA
WE CALL POLITICS.
SO AT THE CENTRE OF OUR
DISCIPLINE HAS ALWAYS BEEN
THIS QUESTION, WHAT IS
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY?
WHERE WE TAKE UP VARIOUS
APPROACHES AND TEST
THEIR RELATIVE MERITS.
MY AIM TODAY IS TO PRESENT
ONE ANSWER AMONG MANY
TO THIS PERENNIAL QUESTION,
TO SKETCH OUT ONE FORM
OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
AND DISCUSSION.
THE SKETCH IS REALLY A SET
OF FAIRLY CONDENSED REMARKS
WHICH WE CAN THEN
OPEN UP FURTHER
IN THE DISCUSSION PERIOD.
THE APPROACH I WISH TO
DISCUSS HAS ITS HOME
IN A BROAD TRADITION IN
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
WHICH DERIVES FROM
THE ENLIGHTENMENT.
THIS VARIETY OF POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY IS A FORM
OF PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTION
ON THE PRESENT
THAT IS BOTH CRITICAL
AND HISTORICAL.
THAT IS, IT SEEKS TO
COMBINE CONTEMPORARY
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
AND THE HISTORY OF
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
AND I'LL NOW CHARACTERIZE
IT IN FOUR ESSENTIAL
FEATURES OR FOUR ROUGHLY
ESSENTIAL FEATURES WHICH
I'LL THEN SPEND THE REST
OF THE PRESENTATION
EXPLAINING IN MORE DETAIL.
FIRST IT STARTS FROM
AND GRANTS A CERTAIN
PRIMACY TO PRACTICE.
IT IS A FORM OF
PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTION
ON PRACTICES OF CO-OPERATION
IN THE PRESENT THAT
ARE EXPERIENCED AS OPPRESSIVE
IN SOME WAY OR ANOTHER
AND ARE PUT INTO QUESTION
BY THE FREE ACTIVITY
OF THOSE WHO ARE
SUBJECT TO THEM.
THAT IS A GENERAL
PRACTICE OF GOVERNANCE
IS EXPERIENCED AS PROBLEMATIC,
IT BECOMES THE LOCUS
OF BOTH STRUGGLE AND
DISPUTATION ON THE ONE HAND,
AND OF A REFLECTION
AND OF COMPETING SOLUTIONS
ON THE OTHER.
SECOND, THE AIM OF THIS
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
IS TO CLARIFY AND TO ENLIGHTEN,
TO THROW CRITICAL LIGHT
ON THE PROBLEMATIC PRACTICE
OF CO-OPERATION AND
THE LANGUAGES THROUGH WHICH
IT'S TAKEN UP AS A SET
OF QUESTION AND DIVERSE
POLITICAL THEORIES
ARE OFFERED IN RESPONSE.
THIRD, CLARIFICATION AND
ENLIGHTENMENT ARE ACHIEVED
BY MEANS OF AN ANALYSIS
WHICH EMPLOYS THE HISTORY
OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
AS AN OBJECT
OF COMPARISON AND
CONTRAST.
THIS TECHNIQUE HAS THE
CAPACITY TO FREE US
TO SOME EXTENT FROM
THE UNCRITICAL AND
TAKEN-FOR-GRANTED WAYS OF
THINKING ABOUT THE PROBLEM
IN WHICH WE'RE ENTANGLED,
THEREBY ENABLING US
TO PUT IT IN A SLIGHTLY
DIFFERENT LIGHT,
AND TO TAKE A CRITICAL
STANCE TOWARDS IT.
IN SO DOING, IT OPENS UP
THE POSSIBILITY OF THINKING
DIFFERENTLY ABOUT
THE PROBLEM AT HAND.
FOURTH AND FINALLY, THIS
HARD-WON CRITICAL
AND HISTORICAL RELATION TO THE
PRESENT OPENS UP A RANGE
OF POSSIBLE WAYS OF ACTING
DIFFERENTLY IN RESPONSE
TO THE PROBLEM IN PRACTICE.
ACCORDINGLY, THESE STUDIES
ALSO THROW THEIR CRITICAL
LIGHT ON THE EXPERIMENTS IN
CHANGING THE PROBLEMATIC
WAYS OF THINKING AND
ACTING ON THE GROUND,
AND THEREIN TURN TESTED
AND REVISED IN THE LIGHT
OF THESE EXPERIMENTS.
SO THOSE ARE THE FOUR MAIN
FEATURES OF THIS APPROACH.
IT STANDS IN A KIND OF
RECIPROCAL RELATION
TO THE PRESENT AS A PERMANENT
CRITIQUE OF THE RELATIONS
OF MEANING AND POWER IN
WHICH WE THINK AND ACT,
AND OF THE PRACTICES OF
FREEDOM BY WHICH WE
TRY TO CHANGE THEM.
SO THAT'S THE BRIEFEST
OF OUTLINES AND THEN
WE GET A SERIES OF
THICKER DESCRIPTIONS.
THIS TRADITION OF POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY IS ONE ANSWER
TO THE QUESTION THAT'S BEEN
AT THE CENTRE OF POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY SINCE
THE ENLIGHTENMENT;
NAMELY, WHAT IS
ENLIGHTENMENT?
IT IS A BROAD HISTORICAL
AND CONTEXTUAL TRADITION
WHICH INCLUDES
ROUSSEAU, I WOULD SAY,
THE PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY OF
KANT, HEGEL, MARX, MILL,
NIETZSCHE, DEWEY, ARENDT,
BERLIN, FOUCAULT, SKINNER,
TAYLOR, AND THE LATER
RAWLS AMONG OTHERS.
OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS, THE
TRADITION HAS BEEN SUBJECT
TO SUSTAINED
REFLECTION AND REFORM.
I'LL MENTION FIVE RECENT
SOURCES OF REFORM AND
RENEWAL THAT HAVE BEEN
INFLUENTIAL IN
MY THINKING ABOUT THE TASKS
OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
FIRST, THE HISTORICAL
APPROACH DEVELOPED BY
THE CAMBRIDGE SCHOOL BY
QUENTIN SKINNER AND BERNARD
WILLIAMS, SUSAN JAMES,
RICHARD TUCK, AND SO ON,
AND INITIALLY SET OUT BY
SKINNER AND RORTY
AND JERRY SCHNEEWIND IN
THE BOOK IN 1984
CALLED
PHILOSOPHY
IN HISTORY.
SECONDLY, THE WORK
OF CHARLES TAYLOR.
I DON'T NEED TO SAY
ANY MORE ABOUT THAT.

[laughs]

James continues THIRDLY, THE METHOD OF
ANALYSIS DEVELOPED
BY WITTGENSTEIN IN
THE PHILOSOPHICAL
INVESTIGATIONS.
FOURTH, THE LATER WORK
OF MICHEL FOUCAULT
AND THE PEOPLE WHO'VE
CARRIED THAT WORK FORWARD,
LIKE BERT DREYFUS AND
ALEXANDER NEHAMAS,
PEOPLE LIKE THIS.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THE
LATER WORK OF JOHN RAWLS
ON TRYING TO DEVELOP A
GENUINELY POLITICAL,
NOT METAPHYSICAL, APPROACH
TO POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
FINALLY, THIS ENTIRE
TRADITION, I THINK,
THRIVES IN A KIND OF
CREATIVE TENSION
WITH ANOTHER KIND OF RIVAL
ENLIGHTENMENT TRADITION
OVERLAPPING IN MANY WAYS
THAT SEES THE PROCESS
OF ENLIGHTENMENT MUCH
MORE AHISTORICAL
AND UNIVERSALIZING
TERMS AS REPRESENTED
BY HABERMAS IN
OUR TIMES.
SO THAT'S THE CONTEXT
FOR THIS APPROACH.
SO LET'S LOOK AT THE FIRST
OF THE FOUR FEATURES,
THAT'S TO SAY, THIS
PRIMACY THIS TRADITION
GIVES TO PRACTICE.
THE APPROACH STARTS FROM
PRACTICE FROM
THE PROBLEMS OF
POLITICAL LIFE.
HOWEVER THIS PRESENTS
AN INITIAL DIFFICULTY.
IT IS QUESTIONABLE WHETHER
OUR INHERITED LANGUAGES
OF DESCRIPTION AND REFLECTION
ON THE OBJECT DOMAIN
OF OUR DISCIPLINE,
POLITICAL LIFE, ARE ADEQUATE
TO THE TASK AT THE BEGINNING
OF THE 21ST CENTURY.
SO LET ME EXPLAIN
WHAT I MEAN.
OVER THE LAST
TWO CENTURIES,
THE MAIN DOMAIN OF
PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS
HAS BEEN THE BASIC STRUCTURE
AND PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS
OF THE SELF-CONTAINED
REPRESENTATIVE, DEMOCRATIC,
CONSTITUTIONAL NATION STATE
OF FREE AND EQUAL CITIZENS
AND THE MAIN NORMATIVE
LANGUAGES OF REPRESENTATION.
THE CONTENDING
PHILOSOPHICAL TRADITIONS
OF INTERPRETATION OF THESE
INSTITUTIONS SEEK
TO CLARIFY THE WAYS IN
WHICH MODERN SUBJECTS,
BOTH INDIVIDUALS
AND GROUPS,
SHOULD BE TREATED AS FREE
AND EQUAL AND CO-OPERATE
UNDER THE IMMANENT AND
CRITICAL IDEALS
OF THE RULE OF LAW AND
CONSTITUTIONALISM
ON THE ONE HAND, AND OF
POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY
AND DEMOCRATIC SELF-RULE
ON THE OTHER.
YET OVER THE
VERY SAME PERIOD,
SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC THEORISTS
HAVE TRIED TO BROADEN
THE RANGE OF
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
TO INCLUDE STRUGGLES OVER
NON-DEMOCRATIC RELATIONS
OF PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION,
AND ECOLOGICAL PHILOSOPHERS
HAVE EXTENDED THE TOOLS OF
CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS
TO OUR RELATIONS TO
THE ENVIRONMENT.
MORE RECENTLY, FEMINIST
POLITICAL AND LEGAL
PHILOSOPHERS HAVE DRAWN
ATTENTION TO A VAST ARRAY
OF INEQUALITIES AND
UNFREEDOMS IN THE RELATIONS
BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN
BENEATH FORMAL EQUALITIES
AND FREEDOMS AND ACROSS
THE PRIVATE AND PUBLIC
INSTITUTIONS OF
MODERN SOCIETIES.
PHILOSOPHERS OF
MULTICULTURALISM,
OF MULTI-NATIONALISM,
AND INDIGENOUS RIGHTS,
AND LEGAL PLURALISM HAVE
THROWN CRITICAL LIGHT
ON STRUGGLES OVER RECOGNITION
AND ACCOMMODATION
OF DIVERSITY WITHIN AND
ACROSS FORMALLY FREE
AND EQUAL INSTITUTIONS OF
CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACIES.
THEORISTS OF GLOBALIZATION,
OF COSMOPOLITAN DEMOCRACY,
OF IMMIGRATION, OF
JUSTICE BEYOND BORDERS,
HAVE CALLED INTO QUESTION
THE ACCURACY OF THE INHERITED
CONCEPTS OF
SELF-CONTAINED WESTPHALIAN
REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACIES
IN ACCURATELY REPRESENTING
THE FULL RANGE OF COMPLEX
MULTI-LAYERED REGIMES
OF GOVERNANCE AND FORMS
OF LOCAL AND GLOBAL
CITIZEN PARTICIPATION
WE CONFRONT.
FINALLY, POST COLONIAL AND
POST MODERN SCHOLARS
HAVE DRAWN ATTENTION TO THE
VARIOUS WAYS OUR PREVAILING
LANGUAGES OF POLITICAL
REFLECTION OFTEN FAIL
TO DO FULL JUSTICE TO THE
MULTIPLICITY OF POLITICAL
VOICES STRIVING FOR A
DEMOCRATIC SAY IN THE WAYS
WE ARE GOVERNED AT THE
DAWN OF THE NEW CENTURY.
SO WE HAVE FIVE KINDS OF
CRITICAL STUDIES THAT
HAVE CALLED INTO QUESTION
THE DOMINANT TRADITIONS
OF INTERPRETATION.
IN STANLEY CAVELL'S
REALLY STRIKING ANALYSIS,
WHICH MANY OF
YOU WILL KNOW,
WE'RE IN A SITUATION
SOMEWHAT ANALOGOUS
TO NORA AND TORVALD IN
IBSEN'S PLAY "A DOLL'S HOUSE."
NORA'S TRYING TO SAY
SOMETHING THAT'S IMPORTANT
TO HER BUT THE DOMINANT
LANGUAGE IN WHICH TORVALD
LISTENS AND RESPONDS
MISREPRESENTS THE WAY
SHE SAYS IT, WHAT SHE'S SAYING,
AND HER UNDERSTANDING
OF THE INTER-SUBJECTIVE SPACE
IN WHICH SHE SPEAKS.
TORVALD TAKES IT AS MATTER
OF COURSE THAT A MARRIAGE
IS A DOLL HOUSE AND HE
RECOGNIZES AND INTERACTS
WITH NORA ALWAYS ALREADY
AS IF SHE WERE A DOLL.
AS A RESULT, TORVALD FAILS
TO SECURE UPTAKE
OF HER SPEECH ACT AND SO
A DEMOCRATIC DIALOGUE
OVER THE JUSTICE OF THE
RELATION BETWEEN THEM
IS DISQUALIFIED
FROM THE OUTSET.
IN CAVELL'S WORDS, SHE
IS DEPRIVED OF A VOICE
IN HER POLITICAL WORLD.
SO THE QUESTION FOR
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
AT THE DAWN OF THE 21ST
CENTURY, IF IT REALLY IS
TO BE CRITICAL AND
ENLIGHTENING, IS HOW DO
WE APPROACH AND MAKE SENSE OF
THE STRANGE MULTIPLICITY
OF POLITICAL VOICES
AND ACTIVITIES
WITHOUT DISTORTING OR
DISQUALIFYING THEM
IN THE VERY WAY WE
APPROACH THEM?
THAT'S THE QUESTION I'M
NOW GOING TO ANSWER.
THAT'S TO SAY, CRITICAL
STUDIES I HAVE JUST ENUMERATED
SUGGEST THAT WE CANNOT
UNCRITICALLY ACCEPT
AS OUR STARTING POINT THE
TAKEN-FOR-GRANTED LANGUAGES
AND PRACTICES OF POLITICS
AND THEIR TRADITIONS
OF INTERPRETATION THAT WE'VE
INHERITED FROM THE FIRST
ENLIGHTENMENT AS IF THEY
WERE UNQUESTIONABLY
COMPREHENSIVE, UNIVERSAL,
AND LEGITIMATE,
REQUIRING ONLY INTERNAL
CLARIFICATION AND JUSTIFICATION.
IF WE ARE TO DEVELOP A FORM
OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
THAT HAS THE CAPACITY
TO ENLIGHTEN,
WHAT IS HAPPENING TODAY, WE
REQUIRE A NEW ENLIGHTENMENT
APPROACH WHICH TESTS OR
IS ABLE TO TEST DUBIOUS
ASPECTS OF THESE
CONVENTIONAL FORMS
OF REPRESENTATION AGAINST
WHAT IS GOING ON IN POLITICAL
PRACTICE ON THE ONE HAND
AND AGAINST OUR CRITICAL
IDEALS OF FREEDOM AND
EQUALITY ON THE OTHER.
ONE WAY TO RESPOND TO THIS
DEMAND IS TO START
FROM AND THEN TRY TO
CLARIFY POLITICAL PROBLEMS
AS THEY'RE RAISED IN AND
ANIMATE THE CONCRETE
STRUGGLES OF THE DAY,
RATHER THAN STARTING
FROM OUR CONVENTIONAL
REPRESENTATIONS OF THEM.
COMBINING WHAT WE'VE
LEARNED OVER THE LAST
30 YEARS FROM THE CAMBRIDGE
SCHOOL AND LET'S SAY
OVER THE LAST 30 YEARS THE
RESEARCH OF MICHEL FOUCAULT
AND THE GOVERNMENTALITY
SCHOOL, ONE CAN TAKE
AS THE INITIAL
DOMAIN OF PHILOSOPHICAL
REFLECTION, PACE
WITTGENSTEIN,
THE LANGUAGE GAMES IN
WHICH THE DIFFICULTIES
ARISE INCLUDING THE
ACTIVITIES INTO WHICH
THEY'RE WOVEN,
AND PACE FOUCAULT,
THE RELATIONS OF POWER
THAT GOVERNMENT THESE
ACTIVITIES, AND THE
PRACTICES OF FREEDOM
PARTICIPANTS EMPLOY TO
PROBLEMATIZE AND AMEND THEM.
THIS REALM OF PRACTICE THEN
OR PRACTICES UNDERSTOOD
IN THIS WAY AS THE STARTING
POINT FOR POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY, COMPRISES FIVE
MAIN FEATURES WHICH
I'LL NOW VERY QUICKLY LAY
OUT AND TALK A BIT ABOUT.
A PRACTICE OR A SET OF
PRACTICES IN THIS BROAD
SENSE WILL INCLUDE FIRST
THE LANGUAGES UNDER WHICH
THE PARTICIPANTS ARE LED
TO RECOGNIZE THEMSELVES,
TO COMMUNICATE AND TO
CO-ORDINATE THEIR ACTIVITIES,
INCLUDING BY
EXTENSION THE LANGUAGES
OF REFLECTION ON AND
RE-NEGOTIATION OF
THIS FORM OF CO-OPERATION
IN THEORY.
THE SECOND ASPECT IS
THE RELATIONS OF POWER
THROUGH WHICH THEIR
ACTIVITIES ARE GOVERNED.
THIRD, IN VIRTUE OF
PARTICIPATION IN THE PRACTICES
IN QUESTION, THE
PARTICIPANTS ACQUIRE
AND INTERNALIZE A SET OF
PRACTICAL IDENTITIES
OR FORMS OF RELATIONAL
SUBJECTIVITY AND MODES
OF CONDUCT OR COORDINATED
FORMS OR WAYS
OF ACTING WITH OTHERS.
THESE THREE DIMENSIONS
CONSTITUTE THE GOVERNANCE
SIDE OF POLITICAL
PRACTICES.
ON THE OTHER SIDE,
POLITICAL POWERS ALWAYS
EXERCISED OVER THE ACTION
OF AGENTS WHO ARE FREE.
THAT IS, INDIVIDUAL OR
COLLECTIVE AGENTS WHO
ARE ALWAYS FACED WITH A
FIELD OF POSSIBILITIES,
OF SEVERAL WAYS OF
THINKING, SPEAKING,
AND ACTING IN PRACTICES
OF GOVERNANCE.
THERE'S A RANGE OF
POSSIBLE WAYS OF THINKING
AND RESPONDING WITHIN THE
LANGUAGES OF RECOGNITION
AND COMMUNICATION, AND A
RANGE OF POSSIBLE WAYS
OF ACTING AND RESPONDING
WITHIN RELATIONS OF POWER.
HENCE, FOURTH - I MEAN
THE FOURTH FEATURE,
BETWEEN THE IMMOBILE
STRUCTURES OF DOMINATION
AT ONE EXTREME AND THE
RELATIONS OF DIRECT
CONFRONTATION THAT
CHARACTERIZE WAR AND
REVOLUTION ON THE OTHER,
THERE IS ALWAYS WITHIN
PRACTICES OF GOVERNANCE A
FIELD OF WHAT WE CAN CALL
PRACTICES OF FREEDOM BY
WHICH SUBJECTS ACT FREELY.
THAT'S TO SAY, QUESTION AND
RE-NEGOTIATE THE WAYS THEIR
PRACTICAL IDENTITIES AND
MODES OF CONDUCT
ARE CONSTITUTED
AND GOVERNED.
FIFTH AND FINAL FEATURE,
PRACTICES OF GOVERNANCE
HAVE TO VASTLY VARYING
DEGREES NOW PROCEDURES
OF NEGOTIATION IN WHICH THE
DISPUTES OF FREE SUBJECTS,
BOTH WITHIN AND OVER
THE RULES OF THE GAME,
ARE TAKEN UP, PRACTICAL
REASONS ARE EXCHANGED,
AND THE DISPUTED RULE
OF RECOGNITION AND
CO-ORDINATION IS EITHER
AMENDED OR RE-ASSERTED.
THESE PROCEDURES OF
NEGOTIATION RANGE FROM
THE DIVERSE FORMS OF AD HOC
DISPUTE RESOLUTION
IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETIES
THROUGH THE PROCEDURES
OF COURTS, PARLIAMENTARY
PROCEDURES OF LEGISLATION,
CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDA,
UP TO NEGOTIATIONS OVER
THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION
OR THE INSTITUTIONS
OF INTERNATIONAL LAW.
NOW FEATURES FOUR
AND FIVE HERE,
PRACTICES OF FREEDOM AND
PROCEDURES OF NEGOTIATION,
CONSTITUTE THE
DEMOCRATIC SIDE
OF PRACTICES OF
GOVERNANCE.
THE EXTENT TO WHICH THOSE
SUBJECT TO RELATIONS OF
POWER AND COMMUNICATION
HAVE A SAY IN HOW POWER
IS EXERCISED OVER THEM, RATHER
THAN HAVING THEIR CONDUCT
GOVERNED BEHIND THEIR
BACKS NON-DEMOCRATICALLY.
ON THIS EXTENDED ERENTIAN
OR AGONISTIC VIEW,
AS IT'S COMING
TO BE CALLED,
PROCEDURES OF NEGOTIATION
AND PRACTICES OF FREEDOM
CONSTITUTE THE SPACE IN
WHICH THE UNPREDICTABLE
POLITICAL WORDS AND DEEDS
OF FREE SUBJECTS
ARE EXCHANGED.
SO IN SOME PRACTICES OF
GOVERNANCE IMPLY PRACTICES
OF FREEDOM AND
VICE VERSA.
OKAY, SO THIS VERY BROAD
INITIAL LANGUAGE
OF DESCRIPTION OF THE OBJECT
DOMAIN OF CONTEMPORARY
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IN
TERMS OF PRACTICES
OF GOVERNANCE AND PRACTICES
OF FREEDOM IS THE FIRST
RESPONSE TO THE LIMITATIONS
OF OUR INHERITED LANGUAGES
OF REPRESENTATION THAT
HAVE BEEN EXPOSED
BY THE CRITICAL STUDIES
I MENTIONED EARLIER.
SEEMS TO ME TO HAVE TWO
ADVANTAGES OR TWO MAIN
HEURISTIC ADVANTAGES.
FIRST IT DRAWS OUR
ATTENTION TO THE LANGUAGES
IN WHICH THE PROBLEMS TO BE
CLARIFIED ARE ARTICULATED,
AND TO THE CONTEXT, TO THE
ACTIVITIES IN WHICH
THE LANGUAGES ARE EMPLOYED,
WITHOUT REDUCING ONE
TO THE OTHER AND WITHOUT
DISQUALIFYING NEW
POLITICAL VOICES
AT THE OUTSET.
SECOND, THIS LANGUAGE OF
DESCRIPTION CONCEPTUALIZES
THE TRADITIONAL INSTITUTIONS
OF MODERN POLITICS,
BUT IN A BROAD WAY THAT
ENABLES US TO ADDRESS
AS WELL THE CHANGES IN THE
RANGE AND THE CHARACTER
OF 21ST POLITICS THAT
CRITICAL STUDIES
HAVE BROUGHT TO LIGHT.
IT PROVIDES A WAY TO DETACH
OURSELVES A LITTLE FROM THE
MORE TRADITIONAL AND NARROWER
FORMS OF REPRESENTATION
OF THE INSTITUTIONS AND
QUESTIONS OF POLITICS,
THEREBY ENABLING US TO TEST
AND AMEND THEIR LIMITATIONS
IN THE LIGHT OF
CHANGES IN PRACTICE.
TO RETURN TO
CAVELL'S ANALOGY,
IT FREES US FROM PREJUDGING
A PROBLEM IN THE PRACTICE
OF MARRIAGE AS A
PROBLEM IN A DOLL HOUSE.
OKAY.
NOW TWO SECTIONS ON WHAT
COUNTS AS CLARIFICATION?
THE ROLE OF POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY HERE
GIVEN THIS
STARTING POINT.
ON MY VIEW THERE ARE TWO
RELATED FORMS OF CRITICAL
CLARIFICATION AND TWO
RELATED ASPECTS
OF THE PROBLEM THAT
REQUIRE CLARIFICATION,
SO I'LL OUTLINE THEM VERY
BRIEFLY AND THEN I'LL
GO THROUGH SOME IN A
LITTLE BIT OF DETAIL.
THE FIRST FORM OF
CRITICAL CLARIFICATION
IS PRELIMINARY AND
NON-HISTORICAL.
IT AIMS TO PROVIDE A
PERSPICUOUS REPRESENTATION
OF THE LANGUAGE IN WHICH
THE PROBLEM IS ARTICULATED
AND THE PRACTICES OF
GOVERNANCE IN WHICH
IT ARISES, THE DIVERSE
SOLUTIONS NEGOTIATED
IN THE PRACTICAL
EXCHANGE OF REASON,
AND THE COMPETING POLITICAL
THEORIES DEVELOPED
AND CRITICALLY DISCUSSED
IN THE ACADEMIC EXCHANGE
OF REASONS.
THE SECOND AND RELATED FORM
OF CRITICAL CLARIFICATION
IS HISTORICAL.
IT AIMS TO ENABLE US TO
STAND BACK AND CRITICALLY
REFLECT ON THE CONCEPTS
AND PRACTICES THAT
ARE CONSTITUTIVE OF THE
PROBLEM AS A WHOLE.
THAT IS, THE
ASSUMPTIONS, CONCEPTS,
AND PRACTICES THAT THE
FIRST FORM OF CLARIFICATION
HAS SHOWN TO BE TAKEN
FOR GRANTED OR TAKEN
AS UNIVERSAL
AND NECESSARY.
IT CONSISTS IN HISTORICAL
STUDIES OF THE LANGUAGES
AND PRACTICES IN WHICH
THE PROBLEM AND DIVERSE
SOLUTIONS ARE ARTICULATED
AND NEGOTIATED.
STUDIES WHICH AIM TO
SHOW THEIR HISTORICAL
CONTINGENCY AND HOW THEY
CAME TO BE THE CONVENTIONAL
WISDOM OF THE PRESENT.
NOW THE FIRST
FORM OF CRITIQUE,
THE NON-HISTORICAL FORM OF
CRITIQUE IS ASSOCIATED
WITH ANALYTICAL
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY,
AND THE SECOND HISTORICAL
FORM OF CRITIQUE
IS ASSOCIATED WITH GENEALOGY
OR SOMETIMES WITH CRITICAL
THEORY, AND THESE ARE OFTEN
SEEN AS RIVAL APPROACHES.
I SEE THEM AS COMPLEMENTARY
AS, FOR EXAMPLE,
IN CHARLES TAYLOR'S BOOK,
SOURCES OF THE SELF.
INDEED I HAVE EVEN A
STRONGER THESIS THAT
THERE'S A HISTORIC
OPPORTUNITY TODAY TO BRING
THESE TWO GREAT TRADITIONS
OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
INTO A CLOSER DIALOGUE.
SO LET US TURN
TO THE FIRST ONE,
THE NON-HISTORICAL AND
CONTEMPORARY FORM
OF CRITICAL
CLARIFICATION.
THE TASK OF THIS FIRST
PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATION
IS NOT TO PRESENT ANOTHER
THEORETICAL SOLUTION
TO THE PROBLEM AT HAND,
OR TO ENDORSE ONE OF THE
POLITICAL THEORIES WHICH
ARISES AS A RIVAL ANSWER.
RATHER THE CHALLENGE IS
TO PROVIDE A PERSPICUOUS
SURVEY OF THE LANGUAGES
OR CONCEPTS IN WHICH
THE PROBLEM AND RIVAL
THEORIES ARE ARTICULATED,
THAT IS, TO GENERATE A
RE-DESCRIPTION WHICH
ENABLES US TO ACQUIRE A
CRITICAL UNDERSTANDING
OF THE USE OF THE
CONCEPTS INVOLVED.
NOW THERE ARE MANY METHODS
AVAILABLE, I THINK,
IN ANGLO-AMERICAN AND
CONTINENTAL POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY TO CARRY
OUT SUCH A TASK.
THE APPROACH I FAVOUR
DRAWS INSPIRATION
FROM WITTGENSTEIN AND
FROM J.L. AUSTIN
AND DEVELOPMENT OF
SPEECH ACT THEORY
BY PEOPLE LIKE QUENTIN
SKINNER AND HABERMAS,
JOHN SEARLE AND SO ON.
HERE SPEAKING AND WRITING
ARE VIEWED PRAGMATICALLY,
I AM SURE AS
MOST OF YOU KNOW,
AS LINGUISTIC ACTIVITIES
PERFORMED BY SPEAKERS AND
WRITERS WITHIN AN INNER
SUBJECTIVE LANGUAGE
OR LANGUAGES.
POLITICAL SPEAKERS AND
THEORISTS WHO PRESENT
RIVAL ANSWERS TO A SHARED
POLITICAL PROBLEM
ARE ENGAGED IN THE
INTER-SUBJECTIVE ACTIVITY
OF EXCHANGING REASONS OVER
THE CONTESTED USES OF
THE DESCRIPTIVE AND NORMATIVE
CONCEPTS BY WHICH
THE PROBLEMATIC PRACTICE IS
CHARACTERIZED AND DISPUTED.
THE EXCHANGE OF REASONS IN
THIS BROAD SENSE INCLUDES
COMMUNICATIVE AND
STRATEGIC RATIONALITY.
THEY EXCHANGE A WIDE VARIETY
OF TYPES OF PRACTICAL
REASON OVER THE RELEVANT
CRITERIA FOR THE APPLICATION
OF THE CONCEPTS IN
QUESTION - THEIR SENSE -
THE CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH
WARRANT THE APPLICATION
OF THE CRITERIA, THE
RANGE OF REFERENCE,
AND THE EVALUATIVE
FORCE OF THESE CONCEPTS.
NOW THE OBVIOUS
QUESTION, SEEMS TO ME,
IS WHY SHOULD A POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHER TAKE UP
THIS APPROACH OF THE
PERSPICUOUS SURVEY RATHER THAN
THE APPROACH OF SEEKING TO
DEVELOP A DEFINITIVE THEORY
OF THE CONCEPT IN QUESTION,
SUCH A COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
OF FREEDOM, OF
JUSTICE, OR OF EQUITY.
THE REASON FOR THIS
PRAGMATIC APPROACH
THAT I'VE JUST MENTIONED
DERIVE FROM TWO, I THINK,
QUITE FAMOUS ARGUMENTS PUT
FORWARD BY WITTGENSTEIN
IN THE INVESTIGATION AND I'LL
JUST QUICKLY RUN THROUGH
THEM BECAUSE I THINK MOST
OF YOU WILL KNOW THEM.
THE FIRST ARGUMENT IS THAT
UNDERSTANDING GENERAL TERM,
SUCH AS FREEDOM, EQUALITY,
DEMOCRACY, POWER AND SO ON,
IS NOT THE THEORETICAL
ACTIVITY OF GRASPING
AND APPLYING A
DEFINITION, RULE,
OR THEORY THAT STATES THE
NECESSARY AND SUFFICIENT
CONDITIONS FOR THE
APPLICATION OF SUCH
GENERAL TERMS
IN ANY CASE.
THE MODEL OF APPLYING
A RULE OR THEORY
TO PARTICULAR CASES CANNOT
ACCOUNT FOR THE PHENOMENA
OF UNDERSTANDING THE
MEANING OF A GENERAL TERM,
AND SO BEING ABLE TO USE
IT AND GIVE REASONS
AND EXPLANATIONS FOR ITS
USE IN VARIOUS CONTEXTS.
SECOND, THE ACTUAL CRITERIA
FOR THE APPLICATION
OF GENERAL TERMS ARE TOO
VARIOUS, INDETERMINATE,
AND HENCE OPEN TO
UNPREDICTABLE EXTENSION
TO BE EXPLICATED IN TERMS
OF A FIXED RULER THEORY
NO MATTER HOW COMPLEX.
WHEN WE LOOK AT THE
USES OF A GENERAL TERM,
WHAT WE SEE IS NOT A
DETERMINANT SET OF
ESSENTIAL FEATURES THAT
COULD BE ABSTRACTED FROM
PRACTICE AND SET OUT IN
A THEORY ALONG WITH
THE RULES FOR
THEIR APPLICATION.
WE DO NOT FIND ONE
DEFINITIVE AND
COMPREHENSIVE SET OF
FEATURES WHICH MAKE US
USE THE SAME WORD
FOR ALL CASES,
BUT RATHER WE SEE WHAT
WITTGENSTEIN CALLED
FAMILY RESEMBLANCES.
THAT'S TO SAY, A COMPLICATED
NETWORK OF SIMILARITIES
OVERLAPPING AND
CRISSCROSSING.
THE UPSHOT OF THESE TWO
ANTI-ESSENTIALIST ARGUMENTS
IS THAT UNDERSTANDING A
POLITICAL CONCEPT CANNOT BE
THE THEORETICAL ACTIVITY OF
DISCOVERING AND APPLYING
A GENERAL RULE IN
PARTICULAR CASES.
FOR THE USE OF POLITICAL
CONCEPTS IS NOT THE ACTIVITY
WHICH THIS THEORETICAL
MODEL PRESUPPOSES,
THAT IS OF
OPERATING A CALCULUS
ACCORDING THE
DEFINITE RULES.
IT CONSISTS RATHER IN THE
PRACTICAL ACTIVITY OF BEING
ABLE TO USE THE TERM IN
VARIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES AND
BEING ABLE TO GIVE
REASONS FOR AND AGAINST
SUCH AND SUCH A USE.
THIS IS A FORM
OF PRACTICAL,
NOT THEORETICAL REASONING,
A MANIFESTATION OF A REPERTOIRE
OF PRACTICAL AND NORMATIVE
ABILITIES ACQUIRED
THROUGH PRACTICE TO USE
THE GENERAL TERM AS
WELL AS TO GO AGAINST
CUSTOMARY USE AGAIN
IN PARTICULAR CASES.
SUCH A PRACTICAL SKILL,
LIKE ALL PRACTICAL
ABILITIES, CANNOT BE
EXHAUSTIVELY DESCRIBED
IN THE TERMS OF RULES
FOR THE APPLICATION
OF THE TERM IS NOT
EVERYWHERE BOUNDED BY RULES.
UNDERSTANDING THE GENERAL TERM
THUS CONSISTS IN BEING ABLE
TO GIVE REASON AND
THEN FURTHER REASONS
AS TO WHY IT SHOULD OR SHOULD
NOT BE USED IN A PARTICULAR
CASE, EITHER TO PROVOKE OR
TO RESPOND TO A DISPUTE.
THIS IS DONE BY DESCRIBING
EXAMPLES WITH SIMILAR
OR RELATED ASPECTS, DRAWING
ANALOGIES OR DIS-ANALOGIES
OF VARIOUS KINDS,
FINDING PRECEDENTS,
DRAWING ATTENTION TO
INTERMEDIATE CASES SO
ONE CAN PASS EASILY FROM THE
FAMILIAR TO THE UNFAMILIAR
CASES AND SEE THE
SIMILARITIES AMONG THEM,
THEREBY BEING BOTH
CONVENTIONAL AND CREATIVE
IN THE USE OF THE CRITERIA
THAT HOLD OUR NORMATIVE
VOCABULARY IN PLACE.
BECAUSE NO DESCRIPTION
IS DEFINITIVE,
THERE IS ALWAYS A RANGE
OF POSSIBLE REASONABLE
RE-DESCRIPTION.
THAT'S TO SAY, ELOCUTIONARY
ACTS WHICH EVOKE ANOTHER
CONSIDERATION, DRAW
ATTENTION TO A DIFFERENT
ANALOGY OR EXAMPLE,
UNCOVER ANOTHER ASPECT
OF THE SITUATION, AND SO AIM
TO PROVOKE RECONSIDERATION
OF OUR CONSIDERED JUDGMENTS
IN THIS AND RELATED CASES.
THESE ARE SPEECH ACTS
WHICH EXERCISE THE KIND
OF FREEDOM NORA TRIES TO
PRACTICE IN THE DOLL HOUSE.
THERE IS A MULTIPLICITY IT
SEEMS TO ME OF MODES
OF EXCHANGING PRACTICAL
REASONS OVER THE CONTESTED
CRITERIA OF POLITICAL
CONCEPTS AND THESE MANY FORMS
ARE NOT THEMSELVES
EVERYWHERE BOUNDED BY RULES.
THINK OF THE VARIETY OF
PROCEDURES OF NEGOTIATION
AND AD HOC DISPUTES
OVER EQUITY POLICIES,
THE REASONING OF
LAWYERS, JUDGES,
AND LEGAL SCHOLARS IN
THE PRACTICE OF LAW,
THE EXCHANGE OF PARLIAMENTARY
REASONS AMONG ELECTED
REPRESENTATIVES, THE
EXCHANGE OF PUBLIC REASONS
AMONG FREE AND EQUAL
CITIZENS OVER THE JUSTICE
OF CONSTITUTIONAL
ESSENTIALS OR IN OTHER
FORA OF DELIBERATIVE
DEMOCRACY.
AND THE EXCHANGE OF REASONS
SAY OVER INTERNATIONAL
HUMAN RIGHTS IN A
CULTURALLY DIVERSE SETTING.
WHEN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHERS
ENTER INTO THESE CONVERSATIONS
TO HELP TO CLARIFY THEM AND
TO PRESENT THE REASONS
OF THEIR OWN TO THEIR
ACADEMIC INTERLOCUTORS,
THEY ARE NOT DOING
ANYTHING DIFFERENT IN
KIND OR SECOND ORDER.
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY THEN
AS A LONG WAY OF SAYING THIS,
AS ARISTOTLE
ORIGINALLY ARGUED,
JUST IS A METHODOLOGICAL
EXTENSION AND CLARIFICATION
OF THE SELF-REFLECTIVE
CHARACTER OF HISTORICALLY
SITUATED PRACTICES OF
PRACTICAL REASONING,
NOT A HIGHER ORDER
REFLECTION ON OR ABOVE
HISTORICALLY SITUATED
PRACTICES OF PRACTICAL REASON.
ACCORDINGLY WE CAN NOW SEE
WHY THE VERY FIRST STEP
SHOULD BE TO START FROM THE
WAY THE CONCEPTS WE TAKE UP
ARE ACTUALLY USED IN
THE PRACTICES IN WHICH
THE POLITICAL
DIFFICULTIES ARISE.
HERE WE BRING WORDS BACK
FROM THEIR METAPHYSICAL
TO THEIR EVERYDAY USE TO
ENSURE THAT THE WORK
OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
STARTS FROM THE REAL WORD
OF POLITICS RATHER THAN
UNCRITICALLY ACCEPTED
FORMS OF REPRESENTATION
OF POLITICS,
WHICH MAY WELL OBSCURE
OR OCCLUDE THE FORMS
OF OPPRESSION WE'RE
TRYING TO UNDERSTAND.
SO LET US NOW LOOK BRIEFLY
AT THE MAIN FEATURES
OF WHAT I'M CALLING HERE
A PERSPICUOUS SURVEY
OF THE WAYS IN WHICH THE
PROBLEMATIC CONCEPTS
ARE USED IN PRACTICE AND THE
EXCHANGE OF COMPETING
REASONS FOR THEIR USE AMONG
THEORISTS WHO PRESENT
AND DEFEND RIVAL
SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEM.
CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL
THEORIES ON THIS VIEW
ARE APPROACHED, NOT AS RIVAL
SECOND-ORDER COMPREHENSIVE
AND EXCLUSIVE ACCOUNTS OF
THE CONTESTED CONCEPTS,
BUT RATHER FIRST-ORDER
ADEQUATE AND OFTEN COMPLEMENTARY
ACCOUNTS OF THE VARIOUS
SENSES OF THE CONCEPTS
IN QUESTION AND THE
CORRESPONDING ASPECTS
OF THE PROBLEMATIC PRACTICE
TO WHICH THESE SENSES REFER.
POLITICAL THEORIES ARE SEEN
AS EXTENDING AND CLARIFYING
THE PRACTICAL EXCHANGE
OF REASON OVER
THE PROBLEMATIC PRACTICE.
THEY PUT FORWARD A
LIMITED RANGE OF REASONS,
ANALOGIES, AND EXAMPLES FOR
EMPLOYING CRITERIA IN SUCH
AND SUCH A WAY, FOR SHOWING
WHY THESE CONSIDERATIONS
OUTWEIGH THOSE OF THE OTHER
THEORISTS, AND SO ON.
THESE ARGUMENTS CLARIFY
CERTAIN SENSES
OF THE CONCEPTS IN QUESTION
AND CERTAIN ASPECTS
OF THE PRACTICES OF GOVERNANCE
AND PUT FORWARD REASONS
FOR SEEING THESE
AS DECISIVE.
YET THERE IS ALWAYS THE
POSSIBILITY OF REASONABLE
DISAGREEMENT, OF BRINGING
TO ATTENTION OTHER SENSES
OF THE WORD AND OTHER
ASPECTS OF THE SITUATION
WHICH ANY PARTICULAR THEORY
MAY OVERLOOK OR OBSCURE.
SO THIS KIND OF THEORY
BRINGS ABOUT A CHANGE
IN OUR SELF-UNDERSTANDING
OF POLITICAL THEORY
AND ITS RELATION
TO PRACTICE.
POLITICAL THEORIES ARE
SEEN TO OFFER US LIMITED
AND COMPLEMENTARY PERSPECTIVES
ON THE WHOLE BROAD COMPLEX
OF PRACTICAL IDENTITIES,
MODES OF CONDUCT,
RELATIONS OF POWER, AND
PRACTICES OF FREEDOM
TO WHICH THEY'RE
ADDRESSED.
NONE OF THESE THEORIES
TELL US THE WHOLE TRUTH,
YET EACH GIVES US AN ASPECT
OF THE LARGER PICTURE.
THIS IS PRECISELY THE
REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE
IN SELF-UNDERSTANDING THAT
JOHN RAWLS TOOK IN
HIS TRANSITION FROM THE
EARLIER THEORY OF JUSTICE,
WHERE THE ROLE OF POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY WAS TO DEVELOP
A COMPREHENSIVE
THEORY OF JUSTICE,
TO THE LATER POLITICAL
LIBERALISM WHERE ALL
THEORIES OF JUSTICE ARE
NOW SEEN AS LIMITED
AND OVERLAPPING, AND ALWAYS
OPEN TO REASONABLE DISAGREEMENT.
ACCORDINGLY THE ROLE OF
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
IS NOW POLITICAL,
NOT METAPHYSICAL.
THAT IS, TO ASK HOW FREE
AND EQUAL HISTORICALLY
SITUATED CITIZENS WITH
DIFFERENT COMPREHENSIVE
DOCTRINES OF JUSTICE CAN
NEVERTHELESS NEGOTIATE
AGREEMENTS ON FORMS OF
POLITICAL CO-OPERATION
UNDER THE CRITICAL
IDEAL OF THE EXCHANGE
OF PUBLIC REASONS.
I THINK IT'S ONE OF
THE MOST IMPORTANT
TRANSFORMATIONS IN
SELF-UNDERSTANDING
IN THE LATE 20TH CENTURY.
SO THIS FIRST FORM OF
CRITICAL CLARIFICATION HERE,
OF THE EXCHANGE OF
REASONS IN PRACTICE AND
IN THEORY, ENABLES US TO
UNDERSTAND CRITICALLY
BOTH THE PROBLEM AND THE
PROPOSED SOLUTIONS AND
ENABLES US TO SEE THE
REASONS IN RE-DESCRIPTIONS,
THE PROS AND CONS PUT
FORWARD BY EACH SIDE,
TO GRASP THE CONTESTED
CRITERIA FOR THEIR APPLICATION
AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN
WHICH THEY ARE APPLIED,
AND SO TO PASS FREELY
FROM ONE SENSE OF
THE CONCEPT TO ANOTHER,
AND FROM ONE ASPECT
OF THE PROBLEM TO ANOTHER, AND
TO APPRECIATE THE LIMITED
AND RELATIVE MERITS
OF EACH PROPOSAL.
TO HAVE ACQUIRED THE
ABILITY TO DO THIS
IS LITERALLY TO HAVE COME TO
UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPTS
IN QUESTION AND SO BE ABLE TO
USE THEM CRITICALLY ONE SELF.
NO SMALL ACHIEVEMENT.
THIS ACQUIRED CRITICAL
UNDERSTANDING THUS ENABLES US
TO ENTER INTO THE DISCUSSIONS
OF THE RELATIVE MERITS
OF THE PROPOSED
SOLUTIONS AND HOW WE MIGHT
NEGOTIATE IF POSSIBLE AN
OVERLAPPING CONSENSUS
OR IF NOT POSSIBLE AN ONGOING
FORM OF ACCOMMODATION
OF REASONABLE DISAGREEMENT
WHICH IS ITSELF ALWAYS
OPEN TO DISSENT AND
RE-NEGOTIATION.
THIS IS TO HAVE ACQUIRED
WHAT RAWLS CALLS THE BURDENS
OF JUDGMENT OR
NIETZSCHE'S TERM,
PERSPECTIVAL REASONING.
THIS WHOLE WAY OF THINKING
ABOUT POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
IS NOT, SO TO SPEAK, POST
RORTY OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
IT HAS A VERY DISTANT
DESCENT FROM A CIVIC HUMANIST
TRADITION THAT SAW
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
FOR 1600 YEARS IN
MUCH THE SAME WAY.
IN THE CIVIC HUMANIST
TRADITION FROM ARISTOTLE
TO MONTAIGNE, THE ARGUMENT IS
THAT IT'S ALWAYS POSSIBLE
TO INVOKE A REASON AND
RE-DESCRIBE THE ACCEPTED
APPLICATION OF OUR
POLITICAL CONCEPTS.
THIS CONCEPT OF
PARADIASTOLE.
IT'S HAD A LOT
OF WORK LATELY.
SO IT'S ALWAYS NECESSARY
TO LEARN TO LISTEN
TO THE OTHER SIDE,
AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM,
AND IT'S ALWAYS NECESSARY
THEN NOT ONLY TO LISTEN
TO THE OTHER SIDE BUT
TO LEARN THE REASONS
THAT SUPPORT THE OTHER
SIDE, IN UTRAMQUE PARTEM.
AND SO TO BE PREPARED TO
NEGOTIATE A SOLUTION,
HENCE THE TERM FOR POLITICS
NEGOTIUM AS OPPOSED TO OTIUM.
OKAY, SO MUCH FOR THE FIRST
FORM OF CLARIFICATION.
RECALL THAT THIS FIRST
NON-HISTORICAL FORM
OF CRITICAL CLARIFICATION
HAS A SECOND RELATED
DIMENSION TO IT.
IT'S NECESSARY TO CLARIFY
POLITICAL CONCEPTS ALWAYS
IN RELATION TO THE ACTIVITY
INTO WHICH THEY'RE WOVEN,
THE PRACTICES OF GOVERNANCE
AND FREEDOM IN WHICH
THE PROBLEM ARISES
AND IS FOUGHT OVER.
OKAY, LET ME TURN NOW
TO THIS SECOND FORM OF
CLARIFICATION, WHAT I'M
CALLING HISTORICAL
OR MORE GENEALOGICAL FORM
OF CRITICAL CLARIFICATION
THAT FOLLOWS FROM
THIS FIRST FORM.
ALTHOUGH THIS FIRST FORM OF
CLARIFICATION PROVIDES
A CRITICAL UNDERSTANDING
THAT'S ENLIGHTENING,
IT'S NOT SUFFICIENT, NEEDS
TO BE COMPLEMENTED
BY A FORM OF HISTORICAL
REFLECTION
TO WHICH I NOW TURN.
WHEN ONE ENGAGES IN THE
KIND OF CLARIFICATION
I'VE JUST OUTLINED, ONE
OFTEN FINDS THAT THERE
ARE CONVENTIONAL WAYS OF
THINKING ABOUT THE PROBLEM,
AND CONVENTIONAL WAYS OF
ORGANIZING POLITICAL POWER,
FROM WHICH THE
PROBLEM ARISES,
THAT THE PARTICIPANTS
AND THE THEORISTS SHARE.
CERTAIN SENSES OF THE
PROBLEMATIC TERMS AND
ASPECTS OF THE PROBLEMATIC
PRACTICE ARE NOT QUESTIONED,
THAT THESE TRADITIONS
OF INTERPRETATION
ARE ACCEPTED AS A
MATTER OF COURSE
OR AS THE UNIVERSAL
AND GENERAL.
SO AS QUENTIN
SKINNER PUTS IT,
AND HERE'S A QUOTE: AS WE
ANALYZE AND REFLECT ON
OUR NORMATIVE CONCEPTS, IT'S
EASY TO BECOME BEWITCHED
INTO BELIEVING THAT THE
WAYS OF THINKING ABOUT THEM
BEQUEATHED TO US BY
THE MAINSTREAM OF
OUR INTELLECTUAL TRADITIONS
MUST BE
THE
WAYS
OF THINKING ABOUT THEM.
A FAMILY OF WAYS OF
THINKING ABOUT, SAY,
FREEDOM OR EQUALITY, OR
THE REASONABLE WAY
OF EXCHANGING
PRACTICAL REASON,
COME TO BE EXPERIENCED AS
NECESSARY RATHER THAN
AS CONTINGENT, THAT'S
CONSTITUTIVE RATHER THAN
REGULATIVE, OF UNQUESTIONED
RATHER THAN QUESTIONED.
MOREOVER THESE CUSTOMARY
FORMS OF THOUGHT ARE OFTEN
DEEPLY ANCHORED IN THE
HABITUAL FORMS OF PRACTICAL
IDENTITIES AND CONDUCT
THAT ARE THE SOURCE
OF THE OPPRESSION CITIZENS
ARE TRYING TO VOICE.
AS A RESULT, THE VERY CLAIM
THAT GIVES RISE TO THE PROBLEM
IS DISQUALIFIED
AS UNREASONABLE FROM
THE BEGINNING AND TRANSLATED
INTO A CONVENTIONAL FORM
OF EXPRESSION THAT OCCLUDES
RATHER THAN DISCLOSES
THE PROBLEM AT HAND.
WE THUS FAIL TO
UNDERSTAND PRECISELY
WHAT IS UNCONVENTIONAL,
THAT IS NEW AND DIFFERENT,
ABOUT THE PROBLEMS
WE CONFRONT TODAY.
TO BRING TO CRITICAL
LIGHT THESE STULTIFYING
CONVENTIONS OF THE AGE
REQUIRE NOT SIMPLY
A PRELIMINARY CLARIFICATION
OF THE AGREEMENTS
AND DISAGREEMENTS WITHIN AN
UNQUESTIONED SYSTEM
OF JUDGMENTS AND ACTIONS,
BUT IN ADDITION A CRITIQUE
THAT FREES US FROM THE
SETTLED CONVENTION
OF THE PROBLEM AND ITS
SOLUTIONS AS A WHOLE.
AND THIS IS WHERE THE
HISTORY OF POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY CAN PLAY
A CRITICAL ROLE.
A HISTORY OF THE
CONVENTIONAL WAYS
OF THINKING ABOUT THE
PROBLEM AT HAND,
OF HOW THESE WAYS WON OUT
OVER OTHER FORMS OF THOUGHT
AND ACTION IN THE PAST,
AND HOW THEY CAME TO BE
ACCEPTED AS NECESSARY AND
CONSTITUTIVE CAN ACT AS
AN OBJECT OF COMPARISON
WHICH FREES US FROM
THE HEGEMONY OF OUR
CONVENTIONAL WAYS
OF LOOKING AT THINGS.
BY PUTTING THE PROBLEM IN A
SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT LIGHT,
THIS HISTORICAL AND
CONTRASTIVE CRITIQUE
ENABLES US TO SEE WHAT
IS UNCONVENTIONAL AND
DIFFERENT IN IT AND TO
THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT IT.
HERE AGAIN ANOTHER QUOTE
FROM QUENTIN SKINNER.
THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY
AND PERHAPS ESPECIALLY
OF MORAL, SOCIAL, AND
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY,
IS THERE TO PREVENT
US FROM BECOMING
TOO READILY BEWITCHED.
THE HISTORIAN OF POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY CAN HELP US
TO APPRECIATE HOW FAR THE
VALUES EMBODIED IN OUR
PRESENT WAY OF LIFE AND OUR
PRESENT WAYS OF THINKING
ABOUT THOSE VALUES REFLECT
A SERIES OF CHOICES MADE
AT DIFFERENT TIMES BETWEEN
DIFFERENT POSSIBLE WORLDS.
THIS AWARENESS CAN HELP TO
LIBERATE US FROM THE GRIP
OF ANY ONE HEGEMONIC
ACCOUNT OF THOSE VALUES
AND HOW THEY SHOULD BE
INTERPRETED AND UNDERSTOOD.
EQUIPPED WITH A BROADER
SENSE OF POSSIBLY
WE CAN STAND BACK FROM THE
INTELLECTUAL COMMITMENTS
THAT WE'VE INHERITED AND
ASK OURSELVES IN A
NEW SPIRIT OF INQUIRY WHAT
WE SHOULD THINK OF THEM.
SO JUST AS IN THE FIRST
CONTEMPORARY FORM
OF CRITICAL CLARIFICATION,
THESE HISTORICAL
STUDIES HAVE TWO ASPECTS.
FIRST THEY'RE A HISTORY OF
HOW OUR CURRENT WAYS
OF THINKING ABOUT THE CONCEPTS
IN QUESTION WERE DEVELOPED,
THE ALTERNATIVES
THEY DISPLACED,
AND HOW THEY CAME TO BE
ACCEPTED AS THE BOUNDS
OF POLITICAL REASON
IN THE PRESENT.
SECOND, THEY ARE HISTORIES
OF THE WAYS IN WHICH
THESE CONCEPTS HAVE COME
TO BE RELATED TO PRACTICE,
THAT IS, EMPLOYED IN
PRACTICES OF GOVERNANCE.
THE HISTORY OF POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY HERE
IS STUDIED IN MUCH THE
SAME WAY AS CONTEMPORARY
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
POLITICAL THEORIES IN THE
PAST ARE APPROACHED
AS RESPONSES TO
PROBLEMS IN PRACTICE.
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHERS
ARE SEEN AS QUESTIONING,
TESTING, AND CHALLENGING
SOME OF THE ACCEPTED
CONVENTIONS OF THEIR
AGE IN VARIOUS WAYS,
OF ARGUING FOR A DIFFERENT
WAY OF LOOKING AT
THE PROBLEM, AND
EMPLOYING THE CRITERIA
OF THE CONCEPTS IN
QUESTION,
SHOWING HOW A CONCEPT
CAN BE EXTENDED IN
AN UNCONVENTIONAL AND
YET REASONABLE WAY
TO RESOLVE THEIR
PROBLEM AT HAND.
AND ON THE OTHER SIDE,
OTHER THEORISTS DEFENDING
AND RESTATING THE
CONVENTIONS IN QUESTION,
PERHAPS IN NOVEL
WAYS IN RESPONSE.
SO THIS KIND OF HISTORICAL
SURVEY OF THE HISTORY
OF POLITICAL THOUGHT SHOWS
HOW THE SETTLED CONVENTIONS
OF CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL
THOUGHT ARE MERGED AND
GRADUALLY BECAME ACCEPTED,
THE REASONS GIVEN TO
JUSTIFY THEM, AND THE
ALTERNATIVES THEY DISPLACED.
SECOND, THESE HISTORICAL
STUDIES IN POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY ARE RELATED TO
THE CONTEXT IN WHICH
THE CONCEPTS IN
QUESTIONS ARE USED.
THAT IS, THE PRACTICAL
PROBLEMS TO WHICH THEY ARE
A RESPONSE AND THE CHANGES
IN PRACTICES OF GOVERNANCE
THAT ACCOMPANY CHANGES IN
CONCEPTUAL VOCABULARY -
WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO CAPTURE
HERE IS NOT JUST A CHANGE
IN POLITICAL
VOCABULARY OR IN SENSE,
BUT WHAT DIFFERENCE THAT'S
MAKING IN PRACTICE.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HUMANS
ARE LED TO RECOGNIZE
THEMSELVES AND CO-ORDINATE
THEIR INTERACTION
UNDER NEW AND NOW
CONVENTIONAL SENSE, SAY,
OF LIBERTY OR OF EQUALITY
OR OF DISCIPLINE?
WHAT NEW FORMS OF POWER ARE
EMPLOYED TO INDUCE PEOPLE
TO ACQUIRE THE APPROPRIATE
PRACTICAL IDENTITIES
AND MODES OF CONDUCT?
WHAT OLDER FORMS OF
POLITICAL ORGANIZATION
ARE DISPLACED BY THESE
CONCEPTUAL CHANGES?
AND WHAT NEW FORMS ARE
RENDERED LEGITIMATE,
REASONABLE, AND
SELF-EVIDENT.
SO THESE ARE HISTORICAL
STUDIES OF POLITICAL
CONCEPTS AND THEIR
RELATIONS TO PRACTICES
OF GOVERNANCE AND
OF FREEDOM.
THESE STUDIES IN THE
HISTORY OF POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY ARE CONTRIBUTIONS
TO THE CONTEXTUAL
UNDERSTANDING OF
THE TEXT IN THE HISTORY
OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
IN THEIR OWN RIGHT.
THEY'RE ADDRESSED TO OTHER
HISTORIANS OF POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY AND ARE
JUDGED BY THE STANDARDS
OF THE HISTORY OF
PHILOSOPHY.
HOWEVER THEY CAN ALSO BE
EMPLOYED IN THE WAY I'VE BEEN
SUGGESTING AS OBJECTS
IN COMPARISON TO FREE US
FROM THE CONVENTIONS THAT
FORM THE SHARED BACKGROUND
OF THE CONTEMPORARY
PROBLEMS WE'RE TRYING
TO ANALYZE, BY SHOWING THE
HISTORICAL FORMATION
AND CONTINGENCY OF THESE
FORMS OF THOUGHT WE TOOK
TO BE INDUBITABLE OR
NECESSARY, AND BY EXPOSING
THE PRACTICAL IDENTITIES
AND MODES OF CONDUCT
TO WHICH THEY'RE RELATED.
IT'S A FORM OF CRITICAL
REFLECTION THAT SHOWS
US THAT WE'RE FREER
THAN WE THINK.
OKAY, IN SO DOING, A
HISTORICAL STUDY OF
THIS KIND, WHEN SUCCESSFUL,
PROVIDES US WITH
A COMPARATIVE VANTAGE POINT
FROM WHICH WE CAN QUESTION
THE LIMITATIONS AND
ARBITRARY CONSTRAINTS
OF THE CONTEMPORARY PROBLEM
AND ITS SOLUTIONS AS A WHOLE.
THE VANTAGE POINT THAT'S
UNAVAILABLE TO APPROACH US
WHICH REMAIN WITHIN THE
SETTLED JUDGMENTS
OR INTUITIONS OF
THE PRESENT.
THESE HISTORIES OF PROBLEMS
IN THE PRESENT ARE THEN,
IN THIS CASE, CONTRIBUTIONS
TO CONTEMPORARY
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
THEY ARE OFFERED AS FURTHER
REASONS AND RE-DESCRIPTIONS
WHICH BY CALLING INTO
QUESTION THE SHARED
CRITERIA OF THE CURRENT
DEBATE DEEPEN AND BROADEN
THE CRITICAL UNDERSTANDING
WE INITIATED WITH
OUR FIRST AND PRELIMINARY
FORM OF CLARIFICATION.
SO UNLIKE TORVALD AND
HIS CONTEMPORARIES,
BY THIS POINT WE ARE NOW
ABLE TO SEE THE DOLL HOUSE
AS ONE CONTINGENT PRACTICE
AND REPRESENTATION
OF MARRIAGE AMONG
OTHER POSSIBILITIES.
THE PRICE WOMEN PAID FOR
ITS HISTORICAL ASCENDENCY
AND WE NOW HAVE THE
CRITICAL UNDERSTANDING
TO BE ABLE TO SECURE UPTAKE OF
WHAT NORA IS TRYING TO SAY.
FINALLY, THESE TWO FORMS
OF CRITICAL CLARIFICATION
ENABLE US TO THINK
DIFFERENTLY ABOUT THE PROBLEM
FROM WHICH WE BEGAN
AND THE WAYS IN WHICH
WE CUSTOMARILY
ADDRESS IT.
IT ENABLES US TO QUESTION
WHETHER THE CONVENTIONS AND
INSTITUTIONS WE HAVE SHOWN
TO BE CONTINGENT
AND REGULATIVE, RATHER
THAN NECESSARY
AND CONSTITUTIVE, ARE
THEMSELVES THE SOURCE
OF THE PROBLEM AND IF
THERE MAY BE GOOD REASONS
FOR AMENDING THEM.
THIS HARD-WON ABILITY TO
THINK DIFFERENTLY IS NOT IDLE
SPECULATION, BUT AN
INFORMED PRACTICAL JUDGMENT
PRECISELY BECAUSE THE
HISTORICAL STUDIES PROVIDE
GUIDANCE IN THINKING OF HOW
A CHANGE IN THE USE
OF A CONTESTED CONCEPT
MIGHT BE RELATED TO
A CORRESPONDING
CHANGE IN PRACTICE.
THE COMBINATION OF THESE
TWO FORMS OF CRITICAL
CLARIFICATION ARE TESTED BY
THE STANDARDS OF POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY SINCE THE
ENLIGHTENMENT; THAT IS,
BY THE EXTENT TO WHICH
THEY REALLY DO ENLIGHTEN
IN A CRITICAL AND EFFECTIVE
WAY THE UNEXAMINED
FORMS OF THOUGHT AND POWER
INVOLVED IN THE PROBLEMS
WE SEEK TO ADDRESS TODAY.
I JUST WANT TO SAY ONE
THING ABOUT FORM OF POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY AND ITS RELATION
TO PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
THIS APPROACH TO POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY STARTS FROM
THE PROBLEM OF POLITICS IN
THE PRESENT AND SEEKS
TO CLARIFY AND ENLIGHTEN
IN THE TWO WAYS
I HAVE BRIEFLY OUTLINED.
IT'S ADDRESSED TO OTHER
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHERS
AND TO SCHOLARS IN COGNATE
DISCIPLINES AND RECEIVES
ITS PRIMARY TEST IN THESE
CRITICAL DISCUSSIONS.
HOWEVER, THERE'S ONE FINAL
FEATURE OF THIS KIND
OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
INSOFAR AS THESE STUDIES
DO THROW LIGHT ON PRACTICAL
PROBLEMS IN CONTEMPORARY
SOCIETY, THEY'RE RELATED
TO THE WIDER AUDIENCE
OF EXPERTS AND OF CITIZENS WHO
ARE STRUGGLING WITH THESE
PROBLEMS IN CONCRETE
PRACTICES OF FREEDOM
AND WHO SEEK ASSISTANCE
FROM AN ACADEMIC RESEARCH.
SO THIS IS A DOUBLE
RELATIONSHIP OF PHILOSOPHY
TO PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
ON THE ONE HAND SUCH
STUDIES THROW LIGHT
ON THE FIVE FEATURES OF
THE PRACTICES IN WHICH
A PROBLEM ARISES AND
BECOMES A SITE OF STRUGGLE
AND NEGOTIATION, ENABLING
THE PARTICIPANTS TO BECOME
MORE SELF-AWARE OF THEIR
SITUATION AND THE RANGE
OF ACTION AVAILABLE
TO THEM.
ON THE OTHER HAND, THE
CAUTIOUS EXPERIMENTS
OF THE PARTICIPANTS IN
NEGOTIATING AND IMPLEMENTING
AND REVIEWING CHANGES IN
PRACTICE PROVIDE A KIND
OF SECOND PRAGMATIC TEST OF
THESE PHILOSOPHICAL STUDIES
AND THEIR LIMITATIONS.
BY STUDYING THE APPLIED
RESEARCH ON THE DIFFICULTIES
AND BLOCKAGES THAT ARISE IN
THE STAGES OF PRACTICES
OF FREEDOM, THAT IS TO
SAY OF NEGOTIATION,
IMPLEMENTATION AND OF REVIEW
AND RE-NEGOTIATION OFTEN,
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHERS CAN
DETECT THE LIMITATIONS
OF THEIR INITIAL
ATTEMPT AT CRITICAL
CLARIFICATION,
MAKE IMPROVEMENTS,
AND START THE ACTIVITY
OF CRITICAL REFLECTION
ALL OVER AGAIN.
I DON'T THINK POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY IS THE FIRST
FIELD OF PHILOSOPHY TO TRY
TO OPEN UP A RELATIONSHIP
WITH THE PRACTICES OF
CONTEMPORARY SOCIETIES
IN THIS WAY.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
NOW HAS A KIND OF RELATIONSHIP
TO THE PRACTICE OF
SCIENCE IN MODERN SOCIETY
AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
AND ENVIRONMENT
SCIENCES AND SO ON.
MORAL PHILOSOPHY HAS A
RELATIONSHIP TO APPLIED ETHICS.
SO IT'S NOT REALLY
SURPRISING THEN
THAT POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
IS ENTERING INTO THESE
RELATIONS OF RECIPROCAL
ELUCIDATION WITH COGNATE
DISCIPLINES LIKE LAW AND
POLITICAL SCIENCE ON ONE HAND,
BUT ALSO WITH REAL
PUBLIC POLICY IN MODIFYING
THE PRACTICES THAT
WE'RE TRYING TO CLARIFY
ON THE GROUND.
INDEED I WANT TO SAY
THAT CANADIAN POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHY HAS TAKEN A
LEAD HERE IN RELATING
PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTION
TO CONCRETE STRUGGLES
IN PRACTICE.
IN THE CRITICAL STUDIES IN
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY THAT
I MENTIONED AT THE BEGINNING,
THE FIVE THAT CALLED
INTO QUESTION, GOT THE
PROCESS GOING HERE,
CONCERNING STRUGGLES
OVER RECOGNITION
AND DISTRIBUTION AND
PARTICIPATION,
CANADIAN POLITICAL
PHILOSOPHERS HAVE TIED
THEIR STUDIES MORE CLOSELY
TO THE LANGUAGES AND
PRACTICES IN WHICH THE
STRUGGLES EMERGE
TO CLARIFYING AND
EXPOSING THE SEDIMENTED
FORMS OF POLITICAL
REFLECTION AND PRACTICE
THAT GIVE RISE TO THE
PROBLEMS AND IN SUGGESTING
HOW THESE STRUGGLES CAN
BE ADDRESSED IN PRACTICE.
THEY'VE ALSO LEARNED FROM
THE RESULTS OF ATTEMPTS
TO MODIFY THESE RELATIONS
OF POWER AND PRACTICE.
I THINK WE HAVE HERE
IN CANADA, THEN,
A CHARACTERISTIC WAY OF
DOING POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
THAT EXEMPLIFIES THE
CRITICAL ETHOS THAT
I AM TRYING TO ARTICULATE
HERE AND IS RECOGNIZED
GLOBALLY AS A LEADING
PHILOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT.

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Watch: James Tully on Political Philosophy and Enlightenment