Algiers, French Algeria
|Era||20th / 21st-century philosophy|
|Main interests||Politics, Aesthetics|
|Notable ideas||theories of democracy, disagreement, visual aesthetics|
Jacques Rancière (born 1940) is a French philosopher, Professor of Philosophy at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris (St. Denis) who came to prominence when he co-authored Reading Capital (1968), with the structural Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser.
Life and work
Rancière contributed to the influential volume Reading Capital (though his contribution is not contained in the partial English translation) before publicly breaking with Althusser over his attitude toward the May 1968 student uprising in Paris; Rancière felt Althusser's theoretical stance didn't leave enough room for spontaneous popular uprising.
Since then, Rancière has departed from the path set by his teacher and published a series of works probing the concepts that make up our understanding of political discourse, such as ideology and proletariat. He sought to address whether the working class in fact exists, and how the masses of workers that thinkers like Althusser referred to continuously enter into a relationship with knowledge, particularly the limits of philosophers' knowledge with respect to the proletariat. An example of this line of thinking is Rancière's book entitled Le philosophe et ses pauvres (The Philosopher and His Poor, 1983), a book about the role of the poor in the intellectual lives of philosophers.
Most recently Rancière has written on the topic of human rights and specifically the role of international human rights organizations in asserting the authority to determine which groups of people — again the problem of masses — justify human rights interventions, and even war.
Rancière's book, The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation, published in 1981, was written for educators and educators-to-be. In the text, through the story of Joseph Jacotot, Rancière challenges his readers to consider equality as a starting point rather than a destination. In doing so, he asks educators to abandon the cultural deficiency and salvation themes so pervasive in educational rhetoric today. Rather than requiring informed schoolmasters to guide students towards prescribed and alienating ends, Rancière argues that educators can channel the equal intelligence in all to facilitate their intellectual growth in virtually unlimited directions. The schoolmaster need not know anything (i.e., s/he may be ignorant). With the premise that all are of equal intelligence, and the insights from which knowledge is constructed can be found in any collective educational exercise founded on this principle, Ranciere claims that the poor and disenfranchised should feel perfectly able to teach themselves whatever it is they want to know. He believes that anyone can lead and that the oppressed should not feel bound to experts or reliant on others for their intellectual emancipation.
Joseph Jacotot advocated the 'equality of intelligence' and claimed that an ignorant person could teach another ignorant person. Ranciere developed this idea in The Ignorant Schoolmaster, saying that “there is stultification whenever one intelligence is subordinated to another ... whoever teaches without emancipating stultifies”. Stultification is the process of causing someone to become or seem foolish.
In 2006, it was reported that Rancière's aesthetic theory had become a point of reference in the visual arts, and Rancière has lectured at such art world events as the Frieze Art Fair. Former French presidential candidate Ségolène Royal has cited Rancière as her favourite philosopher.
- Rancière's work in English translation
- Reading Capital (1968) (With Louis Althusser, Roger Establet, Pierre Macherey and Étienne Balibar - in the French original edition)
- “Reply to Levy”. Telos 33 (Fall 1977). New York: Telos Press.
- The Nights of Labor: The Workers' Dream in Nineteenth-Century France (1989) - This book is an influential work of social history which examines in detail the records of ordinary workers' lives in order to produce a new picture of their surprising political sophistication ISBN 0-87722-833-7. Now in a new English edition with a revised title closer to the French original edition of 1981 - Proletarian Nights : the workers dream in Nineteenth Century France Verso 2012.
- The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation (1991 orig 1981) - This book describes the emancipatory education of Joseph Jacotot, a post-Revolutionary philosopher of education who discovered that he could teach things that he himself did not know. The book is both a history and a contemporary intervention in the philosophy and politics of education, through the concept of autodidactism; Rancière chronicles Jacotot's "adventures," but he articulates Jacotot's theory of "emancipation" and "stultification" in the present tense ISBN 0-8047-1969-1.
- The Names of History: On the Poetics of Knowledge (1994) - This is a relatively brief but dense book, arguing for an epistemological critique of the methods and goals of the traditional study of history. It has been influential in the philosophy of history
- On the Shores of Politics (1995): ISBN 0-86091-637-5
- Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy (1998) - This book is a return to classical texts about the origins and meaning of politics, in an attempt to re-theorize a "disagreement" which may not be simply transcendable ISBN 0-8166-2844-0.
- Short Voyages to the Land of the People (2003): ISBN 0-8047-3682-0
- The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible, ed. and transl. by Gabriel Rockhill (2004): ISBN 978-0-8264-8954-8
- The Philosopher and His Poor, ed. Andrew Parker, co-trans. John Drury, Corinne Oster, and Andrew Parker (2004): ISBN 978-0-8223-3274-9
- The Future of the Image (2007): ISBN 1-84467-107-0
- Hatred of Democracy (2007): ISBN 978-1-84467-098-7
- The Aesthetic Unconscious (2009), transl., Debra Keates & James Swenson: ISBN 978-0-7456-4644-2
- The Emancipated Spectator (2010): ISBN 978-1-84467-343-8
- Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (2010): ISBN 978-1-84706-445-5
- Chronicles of Consensual Times (2010), tr. by Steven Corcoran: ISBN 978-0-8264-4288-8
- The Politics of Literature (2011), tr. by Julie Rose: ISBN 978-0-7456-4531-5
- Staging the People: The Proletarian and His Double (2011), tr. by David Fernbach: ISBN 978-1-84467-697-2
- Althusser's Lesson (2011) - The first English translation of Rancière’s first book, in which he explores and begins to move beyond the thought of his mentor, Louis Althusser (tr. by Emiliano Battista) ISBN 978-1-4411-0805-0
- Mute Speech: Literature, Critical Theory, and Politics (2011), tr. by James Swenson: ISBN 978-0-231-15103-0
- Mallarmé: The Politics of the Siren (2011), tr. by Steven Corcoran: ISBN 978-0-8264-3840-9
- Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art (2013), tr. by Zakir Paul: ISBN 978-1-78168-089-6
- Bela Tarr, the Time After (2013), tr. by Erik Beranek: ISBN 978-1937561154
- Selected articles in English
- "Ten Theses on Politics Theory & Event 2001
- "Who Is the Subject of the Rights of Man?" The South Atlantic Quarterly, Volume 103, Number 2/3, Spring/Summer 2004, pp. 297–310
- "Is there a Deleuzian Aesthetics?" Tr. Radmila Djordjevic, Qui Parle?, Volume 14, Number 2, 2004, pp. 1–14
- Further reading
- Jacques Rancière: An Introduction, by Joseph J. Tanke. (New York & London: Continuum, 2011).
- Jacques Rancière: Politics, History, Aesthetics. Eds. Phil Watts and Gabriel Rockhill. (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2009). Includes essays by, among others, Kristin Ross, Alain Badiou, Jean-Luc Nancy, Peter Hallward, Bruno Bosteels, Andrew Parker, and Étienne Balibar. Also includes an Afterword by Rancière: "The Method of Equality: An Answer to Some Questions".
- Politica delle immagini. Su Jacques Rancière, ed. by Roberto De Gaetano (Cosenza: Pellegrini, 2011). Includes essays by, among others, Rancière, Alain Badiou, Jean-Louis Leutrat, Dork Zabunyan.
- Jacques Rancière. "What Makes Images Unacceptable?" Pacific Northwest College of Art. Portland, Oregon, February 29, 2008
- Jacques Rancière. "Nights of Labour." Sarai Centre for the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS). Video Lecture. February 6, 2009
- Jacques Rancière. "Negation and Cinematic Vertigo." European Graduate School. Video Lecture. August 2009
- "We Are Always Ignorant of our own Effects", Jacques Rancière interviewed by Pablo Bustinduy, in The Conversant, 2013
- "Democracy Means Equality", interview in Radical Philosophy
- Politics and Aesthetics, Jacques Ranciere interviewed by Peter Hallward, 2003
- Eurozine interview with Ranciere, 2006
- Art of the possible: Fulvia Carnevale and John Kelsey in conversation with Jacques Rancière
- "Art Is Going Elsewhere. And Politics Has to Catch It", Jacques Rancière interviewed by Sudeep Dasgupta, 2008
- "Aesthetics against Incarnation: An Interview by Anne Marie Oliver," Critical Inquiry, 2008
- (French) "Jean-Luc Godard, La religion de l'art. Entretien avec Jacques Rancière" paru dans CinémAction, « Où en est le God-Art ? », n° 109, 2003, pp. 106–112, reproduit sur le site d'analyse L'oBservatoire (simple appareil).
- Ten Theses on Politics, 2001
- "Guantanamo, Justice, and Bushspeak: Prisoners of the Infinite", CounterPunch article (2002)
- Preface to new Hindi translation of 'Nights of Labour', January 2009
- See: Jacques Rancière Faculty Profile at European Graduate School
- Ben Davis. Rancière, For Dummies. The Politics of Aesthetics. Book Review.
- Jacques Ranciere, The Ignorant Schoolmaster, pp. 13, 18
- Molly Quinn, "Committing (to) Ignorance", Epistemologies of Ignorance in Education, pp. 31–52
- United for Peace of Pierce County, WA - We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy (Dead Link)
- Jacques Rancière Faculty Page at European Graduate School
- Blog. Discussions and updates on Jacques Rancière
- With and Around Jacques Rancière. Art and Research. Volume 2. No. 1. Summer 2008
- Thomas Campbell Rancière's Lessons. 
- Ben Davis. Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics. artnet. Book Review. August 17, 2006.
- Audio Recordings of guest lectures given at U.C. Berkeley. February/March 2008
- Luka Arsenjuk. On Jacques Rancière. Eurozine, 1 March 2007
- (Spanish) Adolfo Vásquez Rocca. Jacques Rancière; politics and aisthesis
- Eli Bornowsky. Notes on the Politics of Aesthetics. Fillip. Book Review. 2006
- Kristin Ross. Kristin Ross on Jacques Rancière Artforum. March 2007
- Juha Suoranta (2010). Jacques Rancière on Radical Equality and Adult Education. The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy of Education .
- 'The Politics of Aesthetics': Jacques Rancière Interviewed by Nicolas Vieillescazes this interview piece was first posted: 12-01-09 at the website of Naked Punch