Authorities and naturalness beyond neo-pragmatism and deconstructionism. Optimization of economic distribution and well-being as a means of going beyond dialectical failures

  • Domenico Cortese

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    In the first part of my dissertation I demonstrate that Rorty’s neo-pragmatism and Derrida's openness to the Other give rise, in their practical applications, to the same arbitrariness as the one usually attributed to a society shaped by Hegelian dialectic. A problem arises, in a deconstructive attitude in decision-making, when we notice that any need, desire and interest of the other is an expression of a preceding arbitrary allocation of wealth, occupations and economic potentialities. This makes such seemingly “spontaneous” desires a reflection of constrained everyday life economic interests, which are incapable of developing an economic system which really reflects equity and the most open and beneficial manifestation of skills and potentialities. A similar issue concerns Rorty’s invoking the neo-pragmatist figure of the “liberal-ironist”, which, for the same reasons, is always in danger of coinciding with an authority perceiving arbitrary desires and implementing a pragmatically preferable action according to them. In the second part of my dissertation, I lead the concepts of arbitrariness and authority back to the development of the self-consciousness of the traditional Hegelian dialectic. I then propose an “instrumental” revision of this latter and an application of the obtained concepts to a socio-economic analysis, in order to really fulfil the necessity expressed by neo-pragmatism and deconstructionism. According to the Hegelian dialectic a consciousness develops its ethical capacities by becoming aware of the necessity of an agreement with the other self-consciousnesses in order to construct what is reciprocally maximally satisfying and “natural” within the constraints of intersubjective life. Such a recognition has to be understood as the acknowledgement and acceptance of the other’s desires, due to the fact that they are seen as having an active role in the recognition and fulfilment of one’s own desires. The final goal of this dynamics would be the creation of institutions based on solid reciprocity whose effect is the progress of universal benefit. The accent on reciprocity, nevertheless, also means that a human being acknowledges another individual’s desires only to the extent that she perceives a certain agreement with this latter as being convenient. In order to go beyond this aporia I investigate the utilization and disposition of economic instruments which would favour the highest possible expression of reciprocal satisfaction in crucial social environments instead, such as the organization of roles in capitalist production. I then re-interpret the ethical telos of Hegel to formulate a definition of “credit” which coincides with a language game focused on a maximization and equalization of reciprocity and mutual expectations. I relegate the forms of credit granting which respond to others logics under the category of “arbitrary”. I choose the concept of credit because it is the economic tool which, more than any other, can be directed to discovering and enhancing each individual’s potentiality and mutual material improvement.
    Date of Award2017
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJames Williams (Supervisor), Dominic Smith (Supervisor) & Matthias Klaes (Supervisor)

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