From Finding to Making: Jacques Rancière, Richard Rorty, and the Antifoundationalist Story of Progress

  • Ulf Schulenberg


Jacques Rancière plays a crucial role as regards the attempt to make the idea of an antifoundationalist story of progress, as well as the notion of a postmetaphysical culture, look attractive. In La Leçon d’Althusser (1973) and Le Philosophe et ses pauvres (1983) he advances a critique of traditional (Platonic) philosophy and of Louis Althusser’s structuralist Marxism that should be regarded as an important part of the antifoundationalist story of progress. He combines antifoundationalism, antiessentialism, and antirepresentationalism in a stimulating way. In this chapter, Schulenberg discusses Rancière’s version of topographical and horizontal critique. The first part analyzes his critique of Platonism and of Althusser, whereas the second part highlights affinities between Richard Rorty’s scenario of a poeticized culture and the Rancièrian aesthetic regime of art. Moreover, Schulenberg calls attention to some important differences between Rorty and Rancière’s versions of anti-Platonism.


  1. Adorno, T. W. (1997). Aesthetic Theory (R. Hullot-Kentor, Trans.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  2. Althusser, L. (1971). Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays (B. Brewster, Trans.). London: New Left Books.Google Scholar
  3. Davis, O. (2013). The Politics of Art: Aesthetic Contingency and the Aesthetic Affect. In O. Davis (Ed.), Rancière Now: Current Perspectives on Jacques Rancière (pp. 155–168). Malden, MA: Polity.Google Scholar
  4. Dewey, J. (1930). What I Believe. In L. A. Hickman & T. M. Alexander (Eds.), The Essential Dewey: Vol. 1 Pragmatism, Education, Democracy (pp. 22–28). Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 1998.Google Scholar
  5. Dewey, J. (1957). Reconstruction in Philosophy. Enlarged Edition. 1948. Boston, MA: Beacon.Google Scholar
  6. Habermas, J. (1992). Postmetaphysical Thinking (W. M. Hohengarten, trans.). Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  7. Lane, J. F. (2013). Rancière’s Anti-Platonism: Equality, the ‘Orphan Letter’ and the Problematic of the Social Sciences. In O. Davis (Ed.), Rancière Now: Current Perspectives on Jacques Rancière (pp. 28–46). Malden, MA: Polity.Google Scholar
  8. Nietzsche, F. (1974). The Gay Science (W. Kaufmann, Trans.). New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  9. Rancière, J. (2004a). The Philosopher and His Poor (A. Parker, Ed. & with an Introduction; J. Drury, C. Oster, & A. Parker, Trans.). Durham, NC: Duke UP.Google Scholar
  10. Rancière, J. (2004b). The Politics of Aesthetics (G. Rockhill, Trans. & with an Introduction). New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  11. Rancière, J. (2009). Aesthetics and Its Discontents (S. Corcoran, Trans.). Malden, MA: Polity.Google Scholar
  12. Rancière, J. (2010). Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (S. Corcoran, Trans. & Ed.). New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  13. Rancière, J. (2011a). Althusser’s Lesson (E. Battista, Trans.). New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  14. Rancière, J. (2011b). Mute Speech: Literature, Critical Theory, and Politics (J. Swenson, Trans.). New York: Columbia UP.Google Scholar
  15. Rancière, J. (2011c). The Politics of Literature (J. Rose, Trans.). Malden, MA: Polity.Google Scholar
  16. Rancière, J. (2011d). The Thinking of Dissensus: Politics and Aesthetics. In P. Bowman & R. Stamp (Eds.), Reading Rancière (pp. 1–17). New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  17. Rancière, J. (2011e). Aisthesis: Scènes du régime esthétique de l’art. Paris: Galilée.Google Scholar
  18. Rancière, J. (2013a). Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art (Z. Paul, Trans.). New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  19. Rancière, J. (2013b). On Aisthesis: An Interview (S. Corcoran, Trans.). Rancière Now: Current Perspectives on Jacques Rancière, ed. O. Davis. Malden, MA: Polity. 202–218.Google Scholar
  20. Rancière, J. (2017). The Lost Thread: The Democracy of Modern Fiction (S. Corcoran, Trans.). New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  21. Rorty, R. (1982). Consequences of Pragmatism: Essays 1972–1980. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  22. Rorty, R. (1986). From Logic to Language to Play. In C. J. Voparil & R. J. Bernstein (Eds.), The Rorty Reader (pp. 145–151). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.Google Scholar
  23. Rorty, R. (1989). Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. New York: Cambridge UP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rorty, R. (1998). Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers (Vol. 3). New York: Cambridge UP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Rorty, R. (1999). Philosophy and Social Hope. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  26. Rorty, R. (2004). Philosophy as a Transitional Genre. In S. Benhabib & N. Fraser (Eds.), Pragmatism, Critique, Judgment: Essays for Richard J. Bernstein (pp. 3–28). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  27. Rorty, R. (2007). Philosophy as Cultural Politics: Philosophical Papers (Vol. 4). New York: Cambridge UP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Said, E. (2004). Humanism and Democratic Criticism. New York: Columbia UP.Google Scholar
  29. Tanke, J. J. (2011). Jacques Rancière: An Introduction. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulf Schulenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BremenBremenGermany

Personalised recommendations