Bras. Political Sci. Rev.2014;8(1):58-79.

The Place of Normativity in the Political Ontology of Ernesto Laclau

Daniel de Mendonça

DOI: 10.1590/1981-38212014000100003

This article is a reflection on normativity in the field of political theory, with the ontological dimension found in Ernesto Laclau’s discourse theory as a presupposition. We base ourselves on the premise that, as a political theorist (rather than a political philosopher), Laclau has developed a political theory with great analytical applicability, which is also significantly useful for thinking about the role and limits of political normativity. We sustain that the normative, widely understood as a set of precepts or politically desirable situations, has a limited place in the area of discourse theory. In order to carry out our proposal, this paper is divided into five parts. Firstly, we deal with the post-foundationalist position found in Laclau’s thought. Following that, we present him as a political theorist. We then analyse the notions of ideology and discourse, central to the political ontology present in discourse theory. Following that, we discuss antagonism and dislocation, categories used to explain the incompleteness of social meanings, according to Laclau. Lastly, in the light of the ontological presuppositions presented, we seek to establish the possibilities and limits of political normativity, bearing in mind the discourse theory developed by him.

The Place of Normativity in the Political Ontology of Ernesto Laclau