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The Ethos of Pluralization

1995
Author:

William E. Connolly

The Ethos of Pluralization

A skeptical examination of the inclusiveness of pluralism.

How plural, really, is pluralism today? In this book a prominent political theorist reworks the traditional pluralist imagination, rendering it more inclusive and responsive to new drives to pluralization.

Connolly’s latest tour de force challenges contemporary pluralism to forsake its conservative past and move in the direction of a more dynamic and expansive democratic project. The Ethos of Pluralization offers a trenchant critique of the most rigid of contemporary political postures and moves us all to consider what it might mean, radically, to live democratically. Passionate and persuasive, this text analyzes and enacts the encounter with difference in a specifically political sense. A brilliant and urgent book.

Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley

How plural, really, is pluralism today? In this book a prominent political theorist reworks the traditional pluralist imagination, rendering it more inclusive and responsive to new drives to pluralization. Traditional pluralism, William E. Connolly shows, gives too much priority to past political settlements, allotments of public space and power relations already made and fixed. It deflates the politics of pluralization. The Ethos of Pluralization explores the constitutive tension between pluralism and pluralization, pursuing an ethos of politics that enables new forces of pluralization to find receptive responses in public life.

Connolly explores how contemporary drives to pluralize stir the reactionary forces of political fundamentalism and how fundamentalism generates the cultural fragmentation it purports to resist. The reluctance of traditional pluralists to address the tension between pluralism and pluralization plays into the hands of fundamentalist forces. The Ethos of Pluralization eventually ranges beyond the borders of the territorial state to explore relations between the globalization of economic life and a more adventurous pluralization of political identities. Engaging images of pluralism and nationalism advanced by Tocqueville, Schumpeter, Ricoeur, Walzer, Herz, and Kurth, Connolly draws selectively upon Nietzsche, Foucault, Butler and Deleuze to delineate an ethos of politics that makes for new identities while protecting conditions that make pluralism and governance possible.

The Ethos of Pluralization

William E. Connolly is professor of political science at the Johns Hopkins University. His books include Political Theory and Modernity (1988, 1993) and Identity/Difference: Democratic Negotiations of Political Paradox (1991).

The Ethos of Pluralization

Connolly’s latest tour de force challenges contemporary pluralism to forsake its conservative past and move in the direction of a more dynamic and expansive democratic project. The Ethos of Pluralization offers a trenchant critique of the most rigid of contemporary political postures and moves us all to consider what it might mean, radically, to live democratically. Passionate and persuasive, this text analyzes and enacts the encounter with difference in a specifically political sense. A brilliant and urgent book.

Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley

Connolly here continues his fascinating articulation of an affirmative vision of a democratic culture and politics that is adequate to the challenges of late modernity. No other thinker today has his capacity to bring insights from Nietzsche and Foucault into creative engagement with the traditional questions of ethical and political theory. Building on his earlier work, Identity/Difference, Connolly now confronts the dominant model of pluralism, arguing that it needs to be radicalized by the development of ‘an ethos of critical responsiveness’ and ‘a politics of enactment.’ This powerful reworking of democratic ideals constitutes a distinctive landmark on the terrain of contemporary political theory.

Stephen K. White, Virginia Polytechnic University

In this broad and articulate book, Connolly develops the outlines of a postmodern, pluralist, democratic politics.

Ethics

Outstanding. Read it!

Millennium

Connolly argues that the challenge for contemporary democracy is to establish an ethos whereby we remake ourselves, rebuild our own political house by extending critical engagement with an endless procession of the uninvited, the unrecognized, the yet uninformed visitors to our doorstep. In the contemporary world, where each individual contains multiple realities, it is not simply enough to bring the outsiders inside. We cannot hear the emerging polyglot voices unless we acknowledge the denials and repressions and exclusions in our own story.

Tikkun

Here William Connolly addresses the paradox in terms of the relationship between fundamentalization and pluralization. Though indebted to the `postmodernists’, Connolly departs from them in his opinion that a viable alternative is available. According to Connolly, the task of ethics is to disallow any single moral code to dominate the field. At a time when we are told that democracy has won, Connolly urges us to consider what exactly democracy is and what it might mean to live democratically.

Radical Philosophy

Connolly’s aim in The Ethos of Pluralization, is to supplant both liberal and fundamentalist conceptions of ‘the common good.’ With his theorization of a political ethos in which the common good is enacted through relationships of difference, Connolly contributes mightily to the development of this concept for political philosophy and to our understanding of the world in which we live.

American Political Science Review