Feinberg, Joseph Grim

The Dialectics of the People

e-mail: jgrimfeinberg@gmail.com

In this paper I will follow the development of the concept of “the people” through various permutations in Karel Kosík’s work. I will begin with a discussion of Kosík’s early writings on democracy and “popularness” (lidovost), which culminated in Kosík’s works on Czech Radical Democrats and Czech Radical Democracy. I will trace ways that Kosík’s conception of human praxis in Dialectics of the Concrete can be seen developing in Kosík’s increasingly complex conceptualization of “the people” and what it means for the people act upon its world, radically. The paper will explore how the question of the people and its praxis (“democracy” as the praxis of the people) came to the fore again as Kosík addressed the events of 1968, and then again as he responded to the alleged victory of democracy in the 1990s, when Kosík wrote that democracy must break out of the purely political and social spheres to “become metaphysical” (“Democracy and the Cave,” Thesis Eleven 45 [1996]). I will argue that Kosík offers a “radical” democratic framework which, in contrast the framework of liberal democracy, situates social ontology and political practice as fundamentally intertwined.