Aesthetics of Coherence in Politological Thought: Engaging Impredicativity

Simon Labrecque


This essay approaches possible relationships between the fields of politological thought and logic. First, I claim that the logical problem of impredicativity (of self-referencing definitions, or of concepts that apply to themselves) offers a thought provoking site for unfolding a series of practical demands placed on students of politics (e.g. not presupposing your conclusions). Engaging this site in political and politological terms prompts a complex account of what goes on in logic, an alleged stronghold of coherence. This is significant insofar as self-described critical students of politics tend to hold fast to a simplified account of what logic is about, and quickly dismiss it as incoherent and violent. Second, trying to further texture what it can mean to take logic into account, I claim that the propositions formulated by Alfred North Whitehead on the interweaving of logical and aesthetic problems are relevant for apprehending the stakes of in/coherence at the time of writing. As two fields of "fundamental research," I think that logic and politological thought face similar challenges, especially in the form of the market-driven imperatives of productivity and usefulness. I propose that scholars working in those fields (and others) seriously consider possibilities of alliances.

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