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It is obvious that "originary" is not thought of as "grounding" some resulting theory; it instead describes a metaphysical and ethical network that creates a space which encourages an open-ended and unfixed search for meaning. The metaphor of a network helps unseat the idea of a "grounding". What seems to make Heidegger's position more "originary" is that he forces us to look at humans as beings who are "thrown into the world", making that part of his theorizing a significant node in the network.

In other words, for Heidegger, philosophic human? The contrasting view that thinking is working out the means to our ends misses what Heidegger takes to be the point that action is fulfillment of something present in humans, an unfolding of something into the fullness of its being. And if it is to do that, it requires "care" for what is to unfold and letting it be.

These aspects of Heidegger's thought provide a counter-weight to the dominant idea in rational choice theory and many versions of laissez-faire liberal theory that action is pursuit by an agent of a predominantly self-interested goal. For a view that more fully elaborates Dallmayr's ideas about the ethical and transformative prospects of democracy, he turns to Laclau and Mouffe's Hegemony and Socialist Strategy.

He admires their work for grasping the implications of post-structuralism for political life and constructing an "anchorage" to understand specific contemporary social struggles.

They are critical of reductionist views that, for example, make the working class central to a theoretical understanding of political life or that predict a revolution that leads to illusory projections of a stable, homogenous future. Their "anchorage" is a non-essentialist conception of hegemony. Like the traditional conception, hegemony as they see it has an impact on personal and political life. But unlike the traditional concept, it is an articulated practice that establishes relations among non-discursively structured differences.

In establishing these relations, it changes the character of the elements.


Structured totalities of these articulations are called discourses, and positions within discourses are called moments. Discursive positions are formulated by human agents, and they are inevitably in tension with one another. The resulting antagonisms limit what is socially and politically possible. But the negativity of antagonism is, itself, limited by the fact that articulating social formations requires agents to develop positive subject positions.

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However, no positive formulation can achieve stable hegemony over all others. The resulting picture of democratic societies is one of pluralist struggles over the relations between, for example, liberty and equality, economics and politics. Such struggles take place in a political field that is somewhere between total domination and mutually destructive violence. This makes it a field in which relations can be shifted along moral dimensions.

There are no regulative guides for how to negotiate these struggles, nor discussion of how agents can reasonably conduct themselves. At any given moment, it is apparently just a matter of how the balance works out or what particular formulation is functional in a specific situation. In order to include a moral element in their thinking, Dallmayr tells us, Laclau and Mouffe insert socialist positions into pluralist struggles over equality and liberty.

However, Dallmayr offers little or no help about how aspirations to liberty and equality are to be balanced.

A concern is that if left to how a given society is functioning, the result could easily be a balance that underestimates equality. Why, for example, might it not happen that the struggle leaves a society with a liberal democracy and a laissez-faire economy? Dallmayr, however, sees their study as at least providing an opening to construct democratic societies as ethical communities that aim to equitably balance liberty and equality.

A chapter on the legacy of Jacques Derrida describes a still more radical break with modern thought. He selects Derrida's "The Ends of Man" to discuss his thoroughgoing rejection of the idea that there is a telos that defines a humanity proper for homo sapiens. Critique of the idea of an end for humankind requires that we place ourselves outside the old terrain and give up the Heideggerian strategy of looking for originary positions.

Derrida likens his project to that of Nietzsche's Overman, who burns his text and actively forgets what is behind him. Of course, any specific attempt to "step outside" requires a terrain to leave, and Derrida has discussed several transgressive moves that achieve a "stepping outside". For Dallmayr, an interesting one is Derrida's notion of disrupting Eurocentrism. Supporters of Eurocentrism claim an identity for Europe as an exemplar of universal ideals or a "heading" for all.

Derrida undermines this idea by recasting "headings" as complexes which are always experienced as open possibilities rather than actual "headings" that oppress and constrain. Instead, "headings" should be seen as complexes of possibilities around a directions for a person or culture, b relations to other headings of different persons and cultures, and c to the "other" of the heading.

Europe would not, then, close itself off in some exemplary identity, but move toward what it is not, while shifting from what is actual to what is possible. Derrida presents this possibility as an unexpected event to come, as a democracy that has the structure of a promise. It is a promise for an open and perpetually transforming association driven by militant and endless political critique.

Derrida sees these critiques as inevitably reaching beyond national borders and creating an "international juridico-political space" which can be seen in struggles over global human rights. Both local and international political spaces are characterized by a distinction between existing laws and " infinite justice". Movement is forward from critiqued practices; it is "messianic without messianism".

Derrida has come to a complex that a says descriptively something is coming, b performatively promises something, and c transperformatively gestures to positive forward movement. Dallmayr reacts affirmatively to Derrida's critiques of oppressive practices, emphasis on global human rights, and openness to differences. However, he is doubtful that Derrida has adequate resources to prepare for the radical transformations he expects.

For Dallmayr, Derrida's focus is too much on what humans cannot do. Dallmayr works to correct that in a chapter in which he argues for a post-Derridean "other" humanism. In a chapter titled "Who Are We Now? He adopts the perspective that there are things proper to humans and societies that are appropriately human. Any of these societies will provide political settings in which members can be and are encouraged to be open to others within their own boundaries and internationally. It is also proper to humans that they be sensitive to nature and to taking care of it.

So, at least part of the promise of democratic societies is that they allow and encourage perpetual openness to differences among themselves and between humans and the natural world.

Promise of Democracy

Humans, then, are participants in the endless transformation of themselves and their world. Dallmayr sees this transformative process as a "steady quest toward truth and goodness guided by care. You can view this on the NLA website. New search User lists Site feedback Ask a librarian Help. Advanced search Search history. Browse titles authors subjects uniform titles series callnumbers dewey numbers starting from optional. See what's been added to the collection in the current 1 2 3 4 5 6 weeks months years. Cite this Email this Add to favourites Print this page. Catalogue Persistent Identifier https: You must be logged in to Tag Records.

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