As a reader of this blog, you've probably heard that I am working on a book about Jacques Rancière. In the first two chapters, I seek to trace the egalitarian precedents to his work. In doing so, I place Rancière in the Cartesian and existentialist lineages in French philosophy.
In "Cartesian Egalitarianism: From Poullain de la Barre to Rancière," which is now available in Phaenex 7.1:
I present an overview of what I call “Cartesian egalitarianism,” a current of political thought that runs from François Poullain de la Barre, through Simone de Beauvoir, to Jacques Rancière. The impetus for this egalitarianism, I argue, is derived from Descartes’s supposition that “good sense” or “reason” is equally distributed among all people. Although Descartes himself limits the egalitarian import of this supposition [restricting the import to the evaluation of epistemological and metaphysical claims], I claim that we can nevertheless identify three features of this subsequent tradition. First, Cartesian egalitarians think political agency as a practice of subjectivity. Second, they share the supposition that there is an equality of intelligences and abilities shared by all human beings. Third, these thinkers conceptualize politics as a processing of a wrong, meaning that politics initiates new practices through which those who were previously oppressed assert themselves as self-determining political subjects.