(Spielräume des Selbst. Pragmatismus und kreatives Handeln), Berlin.

Stemming from the assumption that the self is being formed, being “subjected” by economic, political, and cultural structures: How then is it possible to take up a critical position, to locate oneself in the world, without merely reproducing those forming structures? Some (post-)structuralist philosophy tend to assume that 1) there is always something driving the subject, and that this ‘something’ or ‘someone’ always surpasses it by escaping it (be it the lack, the sublime, the différance, or be it the other). 2) All these theories have in common the post-anthropological assumption that the subject is characterized by a fundamental lack being filled by those structures. 3) Those structures are considered as linguistic or discursive structures and therefore lead to a linguistic reduction of the self. The problem lies in the following: they run the risk of leading to authoritarian thinking by partly reproducing the violence against which they stood up in the first place. Ironically, (post-)structuralist thinking, which is considered a critique against fundamental paradigms of modernity (one of which is the quest for certainty), partly falls back into a thinking in which certainty plays a major role – the certainty that the subject is always driven by the linguistic structures of lack, or that meaning always is only the trace of the différance, etc.

How then, is critique and creative change possible? Based on an examination of the philosophy of pragmatism, the book suggests to locate agency in a critical common sense, seriously taking into account the habits, everyday doubts and beliefs as the basis of each particularistic point of view. Only in acknowledging the alleged self-evident, the self gets to know its own beliefs and habits and can, thereby, take up a critical position towards them. One important reason, why our own entrenched habits and beliefs are difficult to perceive as such is that they are being embodied, so that they seem natural to us. Therefore, it is necessary to ask, what the body does, instead of asking the ontological question about what the body is. Creativity and embodied habits aren’t opponents, they should rather be understood as allies: Spaces of agency are opened up through the collision of the known (in the critical common sense) and through the exploration of the unknown nearby (through the attention for the own habits). Doubts play a crucial role in this process: Through doubting the seemingly understood gains contour. Theses processes never only take place individually. Therefore it is vital to take into account and to develop the given and the future sensus communis – through unconstrained agreement with others, and by exposing the own exemplarity.

With: Peirce, James, Dewey, Kant, Putnam, Cavell, Rorty, Shusterman.