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The Lessons of Rancière$
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Samuel A. Chambers

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199927210

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199927210.001.0001

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(p.88) 3 Literarity
The Lessons of Rancière

Samuel A. Chambers

Oxford University Press

This chapter centers on the role of language in an understanding of democratic politics. It focuses on a reinterpretation of Rancière's critical reading of Aristotle. Aristotle claims that we can distinguish the human animal from all others because the former possesses speech (logos) while the latter has only voice (phone), and it is, for Aristotle, exactly the possession of logos that makes the human animal a political animal. Rancière agrees, but also disagrees: he shows that the phone/logos cannot simply determine what is political, since the distinction itself can only be drawn politically. The chapter makes the case for a radically important non-anthropocentric understanding of language in Rancière. Along the way, this chapter also shows that Rancière's most important text in English translation, Disagreement, has actually been significantly mistranslated in its opening lines—at just the point that Rancière offers his crucial interpretation of Aristotle.

Keywords:   discursive, literarity, language, translation, Aristotle, anthropocentrism

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