Apr 13

Colloquium: Mihaela Czobor-Lupp (Carleton, Political Science)

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
4:30 – 6:30 pm / Leighton 301

Mihaela Czobor-Lupp (Carleton, Political Science), "Herder on Aesthetic Imagination as a Source of Post-National Democratic Solidarity: A Contribution to Habermas’s Constitutional Patriotism"

All are welcome. Participants will be expected to have read the paper in advance. To request a copy, please e-mail Daniel Groll no more than 2 weeks in advance of the presentation.

Abstract: Constitutional patriotism, Habermas’s Kantian project for fostering post-national democratic solidarity, has been criticized for providing too thin of an identity as the ground for common citizenship. Answering to such criticism, recent arguments stress that constitutional patriotism requires a rational endorsement of universal principles and an affective attachment to them. Still, an account of the type of imagination that could foster such affective attachments is lacking. Drawing on Herder’s conception of culture and imagination, I argue in my paper that creating such affective attachments requires a modern form of mythology, which is one responsibility of good government to provide. In contrast with the irrational and violent use of images and narratives by totalitarianism, such a modern form of mythology would engage the interactive and communicative potential of poetic images in inclusionary ways that shape a common feeling of humanity.

My argument is based on a reading of Herder that criticizes interpretations of his view of culture and national identity as making a case for nationalism and isolationism. Instead, I claim in my paper, Herder promotes the idea that creativity, flexibility, interaction, and communication are constitutive to imagination, language, culture, and implicitly, reason. This allows him to make a case for a form of cosmopolitanism that finds the right balance between unity and diversity, universality and particularity, thus shaping the good dispositions that are conducive to tolerance and peace. Thus enriched, Habermas’ constitutional patriotism would require supplementing the power of law to create bonds between people with the production by imagination of the culture and the social relations that are required by post and cross-national identities and collective subjects.  It would require the engagement of images and narratives for the deliberate production of humanity.

Sponsored by Philosophy. Contact: Daniel Groll, x4219