Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ordinary sacrifices: An approach to loss in democratic politics
by Fortuna, John Jason, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2010, 199; 3398839
Abstract (Summary)

The focus of this dissertation is on how the concept of sacrifice might be used to assist citizens in better understanding and managing the losses they suffer at the hands of democratic politics. This work—by extension—highlights the place and importance that the concept of sacrifice has for democratic politics more generally. My inquiry begins with an examination of two traditional ways in which political theory has attempted to address the phenomenon of loss in politics, and I argue that both attempts have either largely failed, or given rise to additional problems. I then turn to three very different thinkers whose work helps to elucidate the concept of sacrifice and its place within politics. My analysis of Emile Durkheim emphasizes how political society as such depends for its existence upon the sacrifices of its members, thereby establishing a strong connection between this concept and politics. I then turn my focus to the thought of Georges Bataille whose work, on my reading, provides fresh insights into the nature of sacrifice itself. His singularly unique conceptualization of sacrifice as something radically separate from the useful provides the clearest picture of what it means to make a sacrifice; and consequently offers a serious challenge to those who would continue to understand sacrifice within the economic language of trade-offs. In my penultimate chapter I provide an original reading of Soren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling which argues that his (often overlooked) figure—the knight of infinite resignation—provides insights into what can be called the moral psychology of sacrifice. The project then finishes with an examination of what a democratic society that takes the role sacrifice seriously might look like by examining the implications that sacrifice has for other important concepts within democracy—such as equality and justice.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Digeser, Paige E.
Commitee: Barvosa, Edwina, Norris, Andrew
School: University of California, Santa Barbara
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 71/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Political science
Keywords: Bataille, Georges, Democracy, Denmark, Durkheim, Emile, France, Kierkegaard, Soren, Loss, Sacrifice
Publication Number: 3398839
ISBN: 978-1-109-72756-2
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