Event Title

Thomas Paine's (Un)Common Sense and the Politics of Disagreement

Presenter Information

Jordan Ecker, Oberlin CollegeFollow

Location

King Building 325

Start Date

4-28-2017 1:30 PM

End Date

4-28-2017 2:50 PM

Abstract

In my senior honors project, I juxtapose a tradition of using the phrase 'common sense' to cover up radical disagreement within politics with Thomas Paine's radical use of the phrase in his incendiary 1776 pamphlet, Common Sense. Working from the basic premise that politics is constituted by disagreement, not agreement, I argue that Paine's common sense orients us towards lines of disagreement instead of searching for an already existing consensus. I contrast Paine's common sense with an 18th century Whiggish common sense, which I also see as operative in the political philosophy of John Rawls and Hannah Arendt. Once I have established Paine's decisive break with this tradition of common sense, I attempt to read Paine as a repressed radical who has more in common with contemporary radicals such as Jacques Ranciere and Louis Althusser, than the liberal tradition he is typically read within the paradigm of.

Keywords:

political theory, common sense, disagreement, democracy

Notes

Session I, Panel 7 - Political | Stories
Moderator: Joyce Babyak, Dean of Studies and Professor of Religion

Link to full text thesis at OhioLINK ETD Center:
http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=oberlin1494169402027553

Major

Politics

Advisor(s)

Marc Blecher, Politics; East Asian Studies

Project Mentor(s)

Jade Schiff, Politics
Sonia Kruks, Politics

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Apr 28th, 1:30 PM Apr 28th, 2:50 PM

Thomas Paine's (Un)Common Sense and the Politics of Disagreement

King Building 325

In my senior honors project, I juxtapose a tradition of using the phrase 'common sense' to cover up radical disagreement within politics with Thomas Paine's radical use of the phrase in his incendiary 1776 pamphlet, Common Sense. Working from the basic premise that politics is constituted by disagreement, not agreement, I argue that Paine's common sense orients us towards lines of disagreement instead of searching for an already existing consensus. I contrast Paine's common sense with an 18th century Whiggish common sense, which I also see as operative in the political philosophy of John Rawls and Hannah Arendt. Once I have established Paine's decisive break with this tradition of common sense, I attempt to read Paine as a repressed radical who has more in common with contemporary radicals such as Jacques Ranciere and Louis Althusser, than the liberal tradition he is typically read within the paradigm of.