A paper accepted to Mancept 2016!

A paper accepted to Mancept 2016!

Zoltán Gábor Szűcs's paper (Why and how an analogy between fiction and realist political theory can widen our horizon?) was accepted to a MANCEPT 2016 workshop: Embracing plurality, learning through practice: How to do realism in political theory today? (organizers: Janosch Prinz and Irene Vanini).



There is a paradox of realism deriving from epistemological issues. On the one hand, realism seems to be very confident to know how politics in reality looks like. Their argumentative style is full with terms like "down to Earth", "actual", "virtually", "in reality." On the other hand, their confidence is limited to a negative epistemology: it is mostly about what cannot be achieved via philosophical speculation. This paradox usually leads to a rather disappointing treatment of theoretical issues by realists. Geuss's Philosophy and Real Politics sincerely addresses this problem and proposes 5 ways to compensate for it.

My argument is that realist epistemology is similar to how fiction works. It might not sound particularly fair to liken philosophy to fiction, but there are at least two reasons to do so: first, fiction has its own epistemic function, thus the comparison is not completely baseless; second, the paradox of realism tempts us to seek to understand it even beyond the boundaries of political theory.

Fiction is based (according to Lejeune) on a "fictional pact" to read a story "as if" it were real in return for a mixture of entertainment and cognition what Aristotle called the "joy of recognition." A suspension of doubt is required on trust and it is of paradoxical nature because it requires us to accept something "as if" what it actually is not. Similarly, the paradox of realism is based on some kind of "realist pact" to accept a certain a priori understanding of politics as plausible in return for something similar to the "joy of recognition". The argumentative style of realism is not incidentally full with terms emphasizing what is "in reality" despite the fact that realists like to emphasize the limits of our knowledge of politics. These references are there to create the required trust.