Research Projects

Differential Ontology and the Politics of Reason


"Differential Ontology and the Politics of Reason" is a three year research project (1st January 2021–31st December 2023) funded by the Government of the Region of Madrid, as part of line 3 of the multi-year agreement with the Universidad Complutense de Madrid: V PRICIT Excellence Program for University Professors (Fifth Regional Plan for Scientific Investigation and Technological Innovation). It engages with the interdisciplinary field of political epistemology and, in particular, the crisis of political rationality that marks contemporary political theory and practice. The basic contention is that a number of contemporary positions that are critical of the roles that reason and rationality play in politics base their analyses on a number of, often ignored, and problematic ontological presuppositions regarding the existence and function of foundations. By adopting a postfoundational perspective, developed through differential ontology, the aim is to first undercut and indeed complicate that unexamined foundationalism, as a precursor to reaffirming the relation between politics and reason by developing a conception of political rationality based principally on social practices rather than individual abstract reflection. To do so, the project has the following general objectives:

  • Study and evaluate the principle historical conceptions of rationality and political epistemology, especially as they relate to distinct forms of reason, the role that affectivity plays therein, and contemporary debates in social epistemology.
  • Reconsider the function of political rationality from the perspective of differential ontology in order to develop a fundamentally social and practical conception rather than an individual and reflective one. This will lead to the development of a new model of rationality called “social practical reason” (SPR) that will be developed through the analysis, deconstruction, and complication of three oppositions: theory/praxis, individual/collective, reason/affectivity.
  • Respond to the question as to what the epistemic subject must entail to make possible SPR.