Just back from a very intense three-day meeting on higher ed and democracy. We — theorists and convenors of deliberative democracy — were brainstorming a network that would focus the academy’s attention on deliberative democracy. To turn a phrase of the Kettering Foundation, “What kind of higher education does a public need in order for democracy to flourish?” By democracy most everyone meant more than the apparatus of voting; we meant the kinds of participation in which members of a political community could have a hand in shaping their common world. It is so easy to get absorbed in the usual way in which politics is conceived — as a matter of what governments do, not what publics do — that it’s easy to think of democracy as something “over there,” not right here in the ways in which we are always already involved in making our common world.
By Noelle McAfee
I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.View all of Noelle McAfee's posts.