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The Democracy of the Common Man: Revisiting Dewey's Political Thought
Unformatted Document Text:  1 The Democracy of the Common Man: Revisiting Dewey's Political Thought Thamy Pogrebinschi 1 The ‘common man’; this is the political subject named by Dewey after having written extensively on the shadowy and formless ‘public’ who once organized and articulated would allow democracy to flow by itself thus converting the world into a ‘great community’. Dewey’s writings on the ‘public’ are widely known, and so is his criticism of liberal democracy. In this paper I do not intend to simply revisit Dewey’s political thought as the title might suggest, nor offer an overall exposition of his account of democracy and its relation to the figure of the common man. My purpose is slightly different. I intend to use Dewey’s conceptual framework in order to propose a brief account of what I have been calling elsewhere an ordinary democracy. 2 In order to introduce the idea of ordinary democracy, I will make three main claims in this paper: 1) Democracy should be based on human experience. A political account of experience, and particularly of human experience, should be taken as central to the theorizing of democracy; This first claim unfolds itself in three minor claims: 1.1) The concept of experience must be reactivated in order to respond the assault of the idea of language in contemporary thought. After the so-called pragmatic and linguistic turns, language became a central but immobilizing notion for both social 1 Professor of the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). E-mail: ## email not listed ## 2 ‘Ordinary Democracy’ is a central category of my current research project ‘The Ordinary Politics’, which I have been developing mostly based on the works of Marx, Dewey and Foucault. Some pieces of this ongoing research have been published in Portuguese and are available for those who read in this infamous language.

Authors: Pogrebinschi, Thamy.
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1
The Democracy of the Common Man:
Revisiting Dewey's Political Thought
Thamy Pogrebinschi
1
The ‘common man’; this is the political subject named by Dewey after having
written extensively on the shadowy and formless ‘public’ who once organized and
articulated would allow democracy to flow by itself thus converting the world into a
‘great community’. Dewey’s writings on the ‘public’ are widely known, and so is his
criticism of liberal democracy. In this paper I do not intend to simply revisit Dewey’s
political thought as the title might suggest, nor offer an overall exposition of his account
of democracy and its relation to the figure of the common man. My purpose is slightly
different. I intend to use Dewey’s conceptual framework in order to propose a brief
account of what I have been calling elsewhere an ordinary democracy.
2
In order to introduce the idea of ordinary democracy, I will make three main
claims in this paper:
1) Democracy should be based on human experience. A political account of
experience, and particularly of human experience, should be taken as central to the
theorizing of democracy;
This first claim unfolds itself in three minor claims:
1.1) The concept of experience must be reactivated in order to respond the
assault of the idea of language in contemporary thought. After the so-called pragmatic
and linguistic turns, language became a central but immobilizing notion for both social
1
Professor of the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). E-mail:
## email not listed ##
2
‘Ordinary Democracy’ is a central category of my current research project ‘The Ordinary Politics’,
which I have been developing mostly based on the works of Marx, Dewey and Foucault. Some pieces of
this ongoing research have been published in Portuguese and are available for those who read in this
infamous language.


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