| More

Agonistic Equality in Rancière and Spinoza

Views: 137 Downloads: 106
Dimitris Vardoulakis
Dimitris Vardoulakis


Jacques Rancière’s conception of equality as an axiomatic presupposition of the political is important, because it bypasses the tradition which defines equality in terms of Aristotle’s conception of geometric equality. In this paper, I show that Rancière’s theory both espouses a monism, according to which inequality implies equality, and relies on a concept of the free will, which is incompatible with monism. I highlight this tension by bringing Rancière’s theory into conversation with the great monist of the philosophical tradition, Baruch Spinoza.


Jacques Rancière; Spinoza; agonistic equality; ontology; democracy; monism; the political

Full Text:



Aristotle. Politics. Trans. H. Rackham. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1998.

Aristotle. The Athenian Constitution; The Eudemian Ethics; On Virtues and Vices. Trans. H. Rackham. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1935.

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Trans. H. Rackham. Cambridge, Mass. Harvard UP, 2003.

Assmann, Jan. Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1998.

Augustine. The City of God Against the Pagans. Ed. and trans. R.W. Dyson. New York: Cambridge UP, 1998.

Barbour, Charles. “Militants of Truth, Communities of Equality: Badiou and the Ignorant Schoolmaster.” Educational Philosophy and Theory 42.2 (2010): 251-63.

Beiser, Frederick. The Fate of Reason: German Philosophy from Kant to Fichte. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1987.

Benjamin, Andrew. Towards a Relational Ontology: Philosophy’s Other Possibility. Albany: SUNY, 2015.

Bowman, Paul and Richard Stam, eds. Reading Rancière: Critical Dissensus. London: Continuum, 2011.

Champers, Samuel A. “Jacques Rancière and the Problem of Pure Politics.” European Journal of Political Theory 10.3 (2011): 303-26.

Cicero. The Nature of the Gods. Trans. P. G. Walsh. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.

Clemens, Justin. “Spinoza’s Ass.” Spinoza Now. Ed. Dimitris Vardoulakis. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2011. 65-95.

Dean, Jodi. “Politics Without Politics.” Bowman and Stamp. 73-94.

Deleuze, Gilles. Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza. Trans. Martin Joughin. New York: Zone Books, 1992.

Deranty, Jean-Philippe. “Rancière’s Contemporary Political Ontology.” Theory and Event 6.4 (2003).

Gatens, Moira and Genevieve Lloyd. Collective Imaginings: Spinoza, Past and Present. London: Routledge, 1999.

Ieven, Bram. “Heteroreductives – Rancière’s Disagreement with Ontology.” Parallax 15.3 (2009): 50-62.

Kalyvas, Andreas. “Solonian Citizenship: Democracy, Conflict, Participation.” Il pensiero politico (2014): 19-36.

Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe and Jean-Luc Nancy. The Literary Absolute: The Theory of Literature in German Romanticism. Trans. Philip Barnard and Cheryl Lester. Albany: SUNY, 1988.

Lucchese, Filippo del. Conflict, Power, and Multitude in Machiavelli and Spinoza. London: Continuum, 2009.

Marchant, Oliver. “The Second Return of the Political: Democracy and the Syllogism of Equality.” Bowman and Stamp. 129-47.

May, Todd. Contemporary Political Movements and the Thought of Rancière: Equality in Action. Edinburg: Edinburgh UP, 2010.

May, Todd. The Political Thought of Jacques Rancière: Creating Equality. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2008.

Nancy, Jean-Luc. “Rancière and Metaphysics.” Jacques Rancière: History, Politics, Aesthetics . Eds. Gabriel Rockhill and Philip Watts. Durham: Duke UP, 2009. 83-92.

Negri, Antonio. Insurgencies. Constituent Power and the Modern State. Trans. Maurizia Boscagli. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1999.

Negri, Antonio. The Political Descartes: Reason, Ideology, and the Bourgeois Project. Trans. Matteo Mandarini and Alberto Toscano. London: Verso, 2006.

Negri, Antonio. The Savage Anomaly: The Power of Spinoza’s Metaphysics and Politics. Trans. Michael Hardt. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2002.

Power, Nina. “Which Equality? Badiou and Rancière in Light of Ludwig Feuerbach.” Parallax 15.3 (2009): 63-80.

Rancière, Jacques. Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy. Trans. Julie Rose. Minneapolis” U of Minnesota P, 1999.

Rancière, Jacques. Hatred of Democracy. Trans. Steve Corcoran. London: Verso, 2006.

Rancière, Jacques. The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation. Trans. Kristin Ross. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1991.

Rancière, Jacques. “On Ignorant Schoolmasters.” Jacques Rancière: Education, Truth, Emancipation. Eds. Charles Bingham and Gert J.J. Biesta, with Jacques Ranciere. London: Continuum, 2010. 1-24.

Rancière, Jacques. On the Shores of Politics. Trans. Liz Heron. London: Verso, 2005.

Rancière, Jacques. “Ten Theses on Politics.” Trans. Davide Panagia, Theory and Event 5.3 (2001).

Saar, Martin. Die Immanenz der Macht: Politische Theorienach Spinoza. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 2013.

Sharp, Hasana. Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2011.

Spinoza. Ethics. The Collected Works of Spinoza. Vol. 1. Ed. and trans. Edwin Curley. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1985.

Spinoza. Subversive Spinoza: (Un)contemporary Variations. Ed. Timothy S. Murphy. Trans. Timothy S. Murphy et al. Manchester : Manchester UP, 2004.

Spinoza. Theological Political Treatise. Complete Works Trans. Samuel Shirley. Ed. Michael L. Morgan. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2002.

Vardoulakis, Dimitris. The Doppelgänger: Literature’s Philosophy. New York: Fordham UP, 2010.

Vardoulakis, Dimitris. Freedom from the Free Will: On Kafka’s Laughter. New York: SUNY, 2016.

Vardoulakis, Dimitris. Sovereignty and its Other. Toward the Dejustification of Sovereignty. New York: Fordham U. P. 2013.

Vardoulakis, Dimitris“Stasis: Beyond Political Theology?” Cultural Critique 73 (2009): 125-47.

Vardoulakis, Dimitris. Stasis: On Agonistic Democracy. New York: Fordham UP (forthcoming).


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2016 Dimitris Vardoulakis

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.