Praxis Seminar: Research Colloquium in Practical Philosophy 2020/21, Session 3

Oliver Marchart

University of Vienna

Always Ontologize! The Political Thinking of Antagonism

3 November 2020, 18h00 (Lisbon Time – GMT+0)

This session will take place via streaming (Zoom link here)



Presuppositions about the nature of social being are implied by any kind of social research – sometimes openly, but most often silently. Any political interpretation, as William Connolly once argued, invokes a set of ontological assumptions about the very nature of the social bond. Social analysis, therefore, warrants interpretations, not only of particular social phenomena, but of the nature of social being in general: of being-qua-being. Every inquiry into the social world can thus be referred back, in the last instance, to a very simple question: ‘what’s going on with Being?’ (Gianni Vattimo). The wager of my presentation will be that something political is going on with Being. More than that: Being is political, and the name of the political is antagonism. It is the ineradicably antagonistic nature of social being that accounts for the disturbances and asymmetries of the social: the conflicts, the power discrepancies, the relations of subordination and oppression. A case will be made that thinking, as a collective and conflictual practice, needs to take account of antagonism at the ground of being.