Thursday, January 15, 2004

A Seminar to study models of Democracy

Jostein Gripsrud opened up to all of us at the New Department an invitation to meet every week on Mondays to study issues of Democracy, Public Space and Communication. He sees a deficit of theoretical insight and serious reflection around these concepts among scholars of Media Studies.
To initiate study discussions and exchange of ideas he proposed the reading of J. Habermas: "Three Normative Models of Democracy", from Benhabib, Seyla. (ed.) *Democracy and Difference*Contesting the Boundaries of the Political, Princeton UP 1996.

I find it fascinating. I had to read that article twice in order to begin to understand what Habermas is talking about. Not because he is obscure or arcane, not at all, but because his writings are dense and highly theoretical. Very seldom he gives hints or refers in the article to possible concrete consequences of his postulates.

It is being a while I do not read or study philosophy. What surprised me in a very positive way was that as philosopher he comes to trace not so much the roots of certain concepts and discussions (as in philology or linguistics), but the routes that those concepts have encountered in different groups of the intellectual community today. It seems like he is working with practical philosophy. No citations (like I was used to read) around how democracy was understood since ancient Greece and their great philosophers. What he does is to concentrate the attention in the two most relevant and contrasting positions/theories around Democracy in Modernity: the Republican and Liberal view of Politics and the Public, Rousseau and probably Hobbes. And he does it in a very effective and dialectical manner which impresses me a lot.


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