Suffering wonder: Wooing and courting in the public sphere

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3 Scopus citations


In a reading that plays throughout off the Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbauch by Marx which reads: "the philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it," the author argues for the rather paradoxical sounding claim, following a reading of Hannah Arendt, that to be existential, critical, and engaged we need to withdraw. To investigate this idea, the author further cuts against the grain by returning critical theory to its "mere" philosophical roots in wonder, and in doing so keeps an eye on the tension between philosophy and change. The author engages a version of the private-public distinction and against the backdrop of the reading of the Eleventh Thesis links his reading with the work of Nancy Fraser and her take on the public sphere and her Habermasian concern for discourse ethics. To assist in the author's utilization of Fraser's work, he weaves aspects of the thought of Arendt - namely her Kantian-inspired discussions of impartiality and radical plurality, as well as taste and judgment - into the discussion. In addition to this, the author's recent work is combined with Fraser and Arendt - particularly the concepts of the ethics of relief and the work of waiting from his Long Path to Nearness. The work begins and ends with the understanding that, as Fraser puts it: "something like Habermas's idea of the public sphere is indispensable to critical social theory and to democratic political practice".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-475
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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