Post-Agonistics: Pluralism, Realism and the Image

El Baroni, Bassam. 2017. Post-Agonistics: Pluralism, Realism and the Image. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is situated at the crossroads between philosophy, political theory, and art. It proceeds from an enquiry into various philosophical discourses on ‘the real’ – in particular the Lacanian conceptualization of the real as impossible and the Guattari-Deleuze formulation of the real as artificial. It examines what these discourses engender in political theory and in the fields of art and activism. It looks at their investment in constructing ‘a people’ and seeks to understand this as an enterprise that involves images and their configuration. From this angle, the project is interested in exploring the discussion on ‘democracy and art’ and engages in advocating a shift in current positions on their relation. After critiquing Chantal Mouffe’s agonistic pluralism, it is suggested that provoking such a shift might be achieved by outlining a model similar to the way that Mouffe develops a model or ‘democratic design’.

Mouffe’s model is structured on Lacan’s ‘impossible real’. Accordingly, this dissertation points towards a design for pluralism based on ‘a real’ grounded in Wilfrid Sellars’ conceptualization of a stereoscopic fusion between what he termed the manifest and scientific images of man-in-the-world. The project suggests that images can be sites in which such models or ‘designs’ are put into conceptual shape. Sellars’ characterization of science as being rational, not because it has foundation, but rather because it is a self-correcting venture that can put any claim into jeopardy, is drawn on as the basis for the ‘construction of a people’ established on the Sellarsian real. Furthermore, the project engages with the work of a number of post-Sellarsian thinkers to lay the grounds for an argument for ‘reasoning’ as a distinct position that can be taken up in the context of the structural reality of democracy and its relation to art. The term post-agonistics (or postagonistics) indicates this shift to reasoning and how it might contribute to the expanded field of art.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Agonism, Art and Democracy, Inferentialism and Dialogue, Abstraction, Scientific Realism, Pluralism, Image Theory

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


30 November 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

14 Dec 2017 11:27

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 14:10


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