Reclaiming Universalism: Ontology and World Politics

Open to the Public
Nador u. 9, Faculty Tower
room 309
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 3:30pm
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 3:30pm to 5:10pm

The lecture presents a new approach to political universalism, grounded in the reinterpretation of world politics from an ontological perspective. In the discipline of International Relations the concept of world politics remains ambivalent, functioning both as a synonym of international relations and their antonym, referring to the aspirations for the overcoming of interstate pluralism in favour of a universalist politics of the global community or the world state. Rather than distinguish ‘world politics’ from ‘international politics’ by its site, level or issues, I interpret it as another 'kind' of politics. This reinterpretation proceeds through rethinking the concept of the world ontologically and deriving the entire content of politics from the this concept. Drawing on Martin Heidegger’s account of world disclosure and Alain Badiou’s phenomenology of worlds, I propose to redefine world politics as a practice of the affirmation of universal axioms across an infinite plurality of particular situations or ‘worlds’. Such familiar principles as community, equality and freedom may then be redefined in ontological terms as attributes of pure being, subtracted from all positive determinations and therefore valid in any world whatsoever.

Sergei Prozorov is University Lecturer in World Politics and Academy of Finland Research Fellow at the Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki. He is the author of six monographs, the most recent being Ontology and World Politics: Void Universalism I (Routledge, 2013) and Theory of the Political Subject: Void Universalism II (Routledge, 2013). He has also published numerous articles on political philosophy and international relations in Theory, Culture and Society, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Continental Philosophy Review, Political Geography, Political Studies, Millennium, International Theory and other journals. His research interests include continental political philosophy, materialism, biopolitics and totalitarianism.