Political Philosophy

“Political philosophy” is a fascinating oxymoron. At once, a dissimulation of the self-validating tautologies that it simultaneously asserts as transparent inevitability. For all its sophistication, philosophy might also and in essence resemble just such an indeterminate tesseract of complex self-referentiality as is so characteristic of political (among all other) systems of belief but it more often does so in eminently well-ordered ways.

Is the ticket of entry to this or any other rhetorical game of finite yet unbounded hyperbole really only that a belief, any belief at all, has been or is being asserted? People after all are quite naturally predisposed to drift through suspended disbelief into entranced fascination and plausibly narcotic hypnosis with the structure of an argument, regardless of the utter insubstantiality of its conclusions. We all do it and, curiously, even more so when a certain undefinable threshold of ambiguity provides us just enough ontological wiggle room to adapt an argument to our own purposes.

Philosophy is the magician to the constitutive charlatan of political discourse. The magician pretends not to possess what they in fact do – a logical trick, a sleight of hand. The charlatan pretends to possess what they in fact do not – a truth, a wisdom or access to some prophetic knowledge or rational inevitability.

Perhaps it is this resonant interdependency that is why political philosophy as a concept (as much as a practice) is as consequential as it is absurd.

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