Edited By Ludwig Nagl and Chantal Mouffe
David Owen: Democracy, perfectionism and "undetermined messianic hope": Cavell, Derrida and the ethos of democracy-to-come 139
David Owen Democracy, perfectionism and "undetermined messianic hope" Cavell, Derrida and the ethos of democracy-to-come Our only task is to be just. That is, we must only point out and resolve the injustices of philosophy, and not posit new parties- and creeds. Ludwig Wittgenstein To speak of Wittgenstein 's legacy with respect to the field of political philosophy may still seem curious, even perverse, despite (or perhaps because ot) the exis- tence of literatures claiming Wittgenstein 's philosophy for the articulation of conservative or, more rarely, radical attitudes. Yet it is this legacy of which this essay will attempt to speak. It will do so by seeking to elucidate Wittgenstein's legacy via a consideration of the topics of justice, democracy and perfectionism in the work of Stanley Cavell, and to draw out some similarities between this position and that presented by Jacques Derrida. In 'The Priority of Democracy to Philosophy', Rorty offers a deflationary pragmatist endorsement of Rawls' political liberalism which argues both against the need for philosophical justifications of democracy: '[it] is not evident that [democratic institutions] are to be measured by anything more specific than the moral intuitions of the community that has created those institutions'' - and against the relevance of any connection between democracy and perfectionism: 'even if the typical character types of liberal democracies are bland, calculating, petty, and unheroic, the prevalence of such people may be a reasonable price to pay for political freedom. ' 2 By contrast, I will suggest that Derrida...
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