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Qui sont les individus de la politique ?

Abstract : In general philosophy, an individual is a being, distinct from other beings. It is the elementary term that is arrived at by analytically decomposing a composed reality and that cannot itself be decomposed into individuals. It is thus defined by its unity (internal cohesion) and by its uniqueness (external differentiation). Internal cohesion can be thought of in at least two ways, as simplicity (the individual is not composed of parts) or as self-sufficiency (the individual is an autonomous being). External differentiation can also be thought of in at least two ways: as separation (an individual is separated from others by spatio-temporal boundaries) or as singularity (an individual is distinguished from others by his or her unique nature) . In political philosophy, the term takes on another meaning: an individual is a particular human being. From one concept to another, however, there is less substitution than reduction: a particular human being is a human being who is one (it is not a collection of men, but one) and distinct from other beings (other men). Just as the individual in the general sense is sometimes conceived, according to a physical paradigm, as an elementary atom entering into the composition of a body, or again, according to a biological paradigm, as a specimen of a species, situated in a genealogy , the individual of politics is presented alternately as the elementary atom of the social body or as the particular specimen of the human species. Political terminology only follows the evolution of everyday language, which from the seventeenth century onwards identifies the "individual" with the particular man. But this lexical reduction risks being accompanied by the eviction of an essential question: who are the individuals (in the general sense) of politics? Lexical evolution alone does not allow us to evacuate this question. It would be tantamount either to considering it resolved, by postulating that the particular man is the only individual who is of interest to politics, or to considering it superfluous, by postulating that ontology is not relevant to political philosophy. We will show here that both these postulates are erroneous. The individual considered here is an ontological reality, and not simply a logical tool. For a thing to be an individual, it is not enough that one can, through an effort of abstraction, represent it as coherent and differentiated, which is feasible for every countable thing; rather, it must actually present these qualities. It is not necessary, however, to adopt an objectivist metaphysics and assume that certain things are objectively individuated, that they exist as individuals independently of the human mind. It is enough to consider that the human mind conceives certain things as being one, not by an arbitrary effort of abstraction, but by virtue of properties that they manifest. There are beings which are such that we have good reasons to conceive them as one. In this perspective, the ontological individual differs from the logical individual in that he manifests, in addition to the mere enumeration, other properties: he is coherent because simple, if not self-sufficient, he is differentiated because separate, if not singular. What, in politics, is such that it must be conceived as being one?
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Contributor : Charles Girard <>
Submitted on : Saturday, November 14, 2020 - 3:26:40 PM
Last modification on : Friday, November 27, 2020 - 3:27:21 AM
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Charles Girard. Qui sont les individus de la politique ?. P. Ludwig et T. Pradeu (dir.), L'individu. Perspectives contemporaines, Paris, Vrin., A paraître. ⟨hal-03005648⟩

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