Postmodern Ethics, Multiple Selves, and the Future of Democracy

Cristian Iftode


This article starts with a brief overview of well-known criticisms of modern democracy in order to suggest a different approach: reflecting on the principles of Western democracy in the basic horizon of the problematic of the self and wondering if the multiple self should not be conceived as the single subjective correlate that is adequate to democratic pluralism and also as the only chance of curing ourselves of fundamentalism. I try to highlight the Derridian radical view of democracy as always still to come, placing it in the generic framework of postmodern ethics. I distinguish between two trends in postmodern ethics and also between three kinds or models of relationship to the self, in order to argue that the multiple self, that is the self conceived as an irreducible multiplicity of voices, positions, tendencies, vocabularies, and characters, might claim the status of an ideal that needs to be fully embraced and understood in all its consequences some of them profoundly disturbing for the old images of the self consecrated by our tradition, on the one side Greek and Latin, on the other, Judeo-Christian, if we want that democracy actually become a social and political reality. I conclude this paper with a plea for resistance to biopolitical normalization.


postmodern ethics, fundamentalism, democracy, pluralism, relationship to the self, multiple self, care, biopolitics

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