Toward a Conclusion: Fictive Theories and Creative Epistemologies of Possibility

  • Susan McManus
Part of the Studies in European Culture and History book series (SECH)


Time and again, in very different ways, Rousseau and even Kant, Stirner and Marx, Nietzsche and Bloch, among the other voices on whom I have drawn in this book, have echoed the cry that is common to all resistance: “It doesn’t have to be this way!”; “We can live differently!” In the introduction, I asked: Can a mode of political theorizing be articulated that openly acknowledges its fictive origins? Can the failure of knowledge provide a new (groundless) ground of political theory that overcomes the desire to code and contain the political through the delineation of incontrovertible principles, or the stasis of forms of normativity and codification of forms of proceduralism, once and for all? And can that mode of political theorizing still be adequate to the vital and bold substantive—but no longer legislative—tasks of “inaugural[ing] a new way of looking at the world, which includes a new set of concepts, as well as new cognitive and normative standards?”1 I answered that fictive theories are able to move beyond a politics based around legislative claims, without conceding any loss of political affectivity, but indeed effecting a gain. I have argued that a fictive mode of political theory, informed by creative epistemologies of possibility—a utopian and deconstructive mode of political theory—moves beyond a politics based on the stasis of legislative claims. This involves a move from a political-theoretical mode concerned with models of governance to a critically utopian mode, concerned with emancipatory knowledges and resistance. Fictive theories make two claims regarding political knowledge-production: first, the fictive is disruptive of ways of rendering the world intelligible that work through oppositions such as reality/fictionality, material/utopian, the real and given, and their various fantastical others; and second, thought as substantive political anticipation is necessarily fictive when confronting the future precisely as open, the “undisclosed space ahead of us” that remains to be created.


Political Theory Radical Alterity Constituent Power Fictive Mode Fictive Theory 
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  1. 1.
    Wolin, “Political Theory as a Vocation.” The Concept of Utopia (London: Phillip Allen, 1990), p.200.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton (Columbia University Press, 1994), p.147. See also Irigaray, The Way of Love, and the search for a language that “does not speak about something or someone who already exists and for whom a language and representations are somehow available, previously codified. Rather, it tries to anticipate …”; this language then, no longer corresponds “to something or someone who already exists, and is already in the past, or put into the past by what is said. The task here is different. It is a question of making something exist” pp.vii, viii.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Bennett, The Enchantment of Modern Life, pp.147, 148; Braidotti, Nomadic Subjects, p.4; see also Braidotti, Metamorphoses: Towards a Materialist Theory of Becoming (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002), p.7.Google Scholar

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© Susan McManus 2005

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  • Susan McManus

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