Sharing the World in Common with Others

Michaele L. Ferguson

in Sharing Democracy

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199921584
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980413 | DOI:
Sharing the World in Common with Others

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Underlying the two views of democracy in terms of commonality and political freedom are two different mental pictures of how people share. This chapter draws out these two mental pictures from a reading of Danielle Allen’s account of the integration of Little Rock High School in 1957. The first – the objective picture of sharing – holds that sharing requires sharing some thing in common that is objectively real and independent of those who share it. This picture is what drives democratic theorists to focus on what the demos shares in common, and ironically undergirds an antidemocratic approach to politics in which elites seem best positioned to determine the content of commonality. The second picture – an intersubjective picture – is derived here from a critical engagement with Hannah Arendt – and holds that people share when they have a first-person experience of themselves as inhabiting the world together with plural others. This picture highlights the role that all humans play in building and sustaining a world that can be experienced as common. That is, it highlights humanity’s ordinary and radically democratic capacity for political freedom: the capacity to shape the world we share in common with others.

Keywords: integration of Little Rock High School; Danielle Allen; Hannah Arendt; Will Kymlicka; world-building; intersubjectivity; common sense; sensus communis; community sense; plurality

Chapter.  14676 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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