The Limits of Political Framing: The Political Implications of Heidegger's Ontological Difference as a Constraint to Total Politicisation

Jeffrey Payne (2011). The Limits of Political Framing: The Political Implications of Heidegger's Ontological Difference as a Constraint to Total Politicisation PhD Thesis, School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Jeffrey Payne
Thesis Title The Limits of Political Framing: The Political Implications of Heidegger's Ontological Difference as a Constraint to Total Politicisation
School, Centre or Institute School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-08
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Richard Shapcott
Dr Martin Weber
Total pages 215
Total black and white pages 215
Language eng
Subjects 16 Studies in Human Society
Abstract/Summary Abstract Throughout history collective action, if it was to be legitimate and authoritative, has been informed by theoretical knowledge secured by being grounded in a ‘truer’ universal, atemporal and, therefore, ‘metaphysical’ reality. Contemporary society, in contrast, is one without such foundations. This has resulted in ‘framing’ becoming the temporarily dominant way by which things are shown to be what they are in the world. Framing, by this account, has replaced philosophy, theology and science as the dominant form for ‘knowing’ the world. That reality is grounded in framing without foundations has allowed for the practice of political framing. Political framing is the strategic representation of a situation for political advantage. This situation has led to a kind of ‘total politicization’ where everything is potentially the result of a political frame. The central feature of political framing, which differentiates it from lying or propaganda, is that it is constrained. Political framers cannot simply represent the world as they would want it to be. The observation that political frames are constrained suggests a puzzle; as ‘framing’ is only possible under post-metaphysical conditions, where there is no longer an enduring ‘ground’ to justify and legitimate truth claims, then how is ‘political framing’ constrained? If this limit to politics can be discovered then it is actually this to which political actors respond. I argue that the practice of ‘political framing’ operates from out of a Nietzschean influenced neo-Kantian understanding of language. Both Nietzsche and the neo-Kantians severed language from what Kant identified as the ‘receptive faculty’. Under these conditions, language can be used as an instrument for expanding human control. It is this situation which has led to total politicization and the ubiquitous practice of ‘political framing’. Heidegger, in contrast, can be understood as trying to recover the primordiality of the ‘receptive faculty’, understood differently to Kant, as a constraint and possibility for language. Heidegger achieves this project by reinvigorating the question of Being as presencing in terms of articulating the ontological difference. I propose that it is this horizon of presencing which constrains political framing. Heidegger’s mature position presents this pre-thematic space in terms of ethos. Display rhetoric, the rhetorical form used in ancient Greek festivals in the performance of myths, is not primarily persuasive but is intended to speak the ethos. Political framing, by this account, is constrained by the ontological pre-thematic space from which politics can become a practice and is that to which politics responds. Political communication, I conclude, is best understood to be like the agon in the Greek festival as an expression of display rhetoric. Everything that is, by this account, is political but politics is not the realisation of subjective desires. There are two important implications that can be drawn from this conclusion. Firstly, language is not an instrument which can be brought to serve human needs. ‘Political framing’ is not properly understood when used for the strategic representation of a given situation but is best understood as the more primordial act of letting things be seen as what they are. This is a poetic bringing to appearance of the pre-thematic ethos which already implicitly informs practical engagements in the world. Secondly, political actors need to adopt a new orientation which remains vigilant to the call of the ethos from which language can speak. This is a disposition not of expanded control but of ‘letting-go’. Political communication, as an expression of display rhetoric, acts to found, sustain or extend a political community.
Keyword political theory, philosophy, framing, heidegger, communication, government, public policy

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Created: Tue, 29 Nov 2011, 14:42:48 EST by Mr Jeffrey Payne on behalf of Library - Information Access Service