ABSTRACT

In light of a post-democratic diagnosis, political philosophy should not be thought of as a means of facilitating the exercise of political power. Rather, political philosophy should be understood as a means of working through and coping with a political reality that is completely outside the control of ordinary citizens. This chapter argues that, under post-democracy, political philosophy assumes an essentially therapeutic character, a means of dealing with the frustration, anxiety, and alienation that emerge from an awareness of ongoing, mass political powerlessness. After first highlighting the cathectic challenges particular to post-democracy, this chapter explores the ways in which past thinkers have understood philosophy as a therapeutic practice, as well as what it would mean to take a therapeutic approach to political philosophy. In particular, this chapter examines Jonathan Lear’s analysis of the Crow and his resulting concept of radical hope as a foundation for a post-democratic outlook. The chapter ends by contrasting this approach with two other recent responses to political limitation: Joshua Foa Dienstag’s pessimism and Jeffrey Green’s extrapoliticism.