Communicative equality and the politics of disagreement

Current issues of modern political philosophy and ethno-national studies




communication, communicative equality, understanding, disagreement, social inequality, politics, politics of aesthetics


The author develops the concept of communicative equality based on Habermas’ theory of communicative action aimed at understanding. Linguistic interaction presupposes communicative equality as a priori condition of mutual understanding. It raises the critical issue of a role and place of misunderstanding and disagreement that we can meet in everyday communication. Following Rancir’s examination of disagreement the author is tracing sensible perception of social inequality by a part of communicators, as well as the emergence of political disagreement as its consequence. The main part of the article devotes to realization of a conflict produced by speaking beings’ equality and experiencing inequality of distribution of parts of the common good. The author analyses Rancir’s innovative interpretation of concepts of politics, the politics of aesthetics, the police, the wrong, and new reading Aristotle’s and Plato’s notion of blaberon. The double logic of communication as both equality in mutual understanding and as the class struggle for social equality is shown, followed Ranciеr, on the example of historian and philoso- pher Ballanche, who in the early 19th century direct compared events of the French Revolution and the secession of Roman plebeians on Aventine Hill. The critics of Habermas’ theory of discursive rationality occupy the particular place of the article. His model of communication rejects an active role of the third person, i.e., the observer’s position in communicative actions oriented towards understanding. But addressing to other historical example of both the theorist-observer and one of Ukrainian revolution 1917–1921 leaders, writer Volodymyr Vynnychenko assists to clarify the meaning of “the third person” in communicative formation of a new political and cultural community. Finally, referring to Schmitt’s concept of the political as the existential conflict of recognition or negation of an opponent’s way of existence allows for a conclusion that studying existential dimension of communication can add to analysis of communication.

Author Biography

Yevhen Bystrytsky

Doctor of Sciences in Philosophy, Leading Research Fellow at the Department of Philosophy of Culture, Ethics and Aesthetics, H.S. Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy, NAS of Ukraine


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How to Cite

Bystrytsky, Y. (2020). Communicative equality and the politics of disagreement: Current issues of modern political philosophy and ethno-national studies. Filosofska Dumka, (3), 38–60.






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