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Title: Disenchanted engagement : the philosophy and political praxis of Massimo Cacciari
Author: Lavenda, Daniel
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 6449
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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Several commentators have argued that the focus within political theory in recent decades on abstraction rather than 'reality' has left it with has nothing to say to political actors. On these grounds, some have even expressed concern regarding the discipline's future. As a reply to these concerns, I introduce in this thesis the scholarship and political career of the Italian philosopher Massimo Cacciari. Cacciari shares many goals with Anglophone political theorists, but neither his scholarship nor his practice have engaged in the kind of intellectual abstraction which they now find so troubling. Drawing from Cacciari's philosophy, political career, and interventions as a public intellectual, I show how his understanding of real-world conflicts and contradictions begins with a commitment to what I call his 'geophilosophy of the archipelago', which regards the foundations of human knowledge to be irreducibly plural. A commitment to irreducibly plural foundations means that philosophers and political actors must discard what Cacciari views as 'enchantment' with the possibility of ultimate or absolute resolution of all political discord. In return, however, he argues that hopeful political engagement is still possible, because political actors remain able to cope in material and semiotic terms with the complex realities they face. I suggest that serious consideration of Cacciari's example of recognising irreducible plurality, coupled with a disenchanted engagement with both the material and the semiotic dimensions of political life, offers a compelling alternative orientation to the world that may suggest new ways forward in political theory.
Supervisor: White, Stuart ; McNay, Lois Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political science--Philosophy--Italy ; Negativity (Philosophy) ; Geopolitics ; Italy--Intellectual life--20th century ; Italy--Intellectual life--21st century