The Medial Age, Federalism, and the Other

By Philippe Eberhard.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper proposes a reflection on federalism and the other in the Medial Age based on the middle voice (E. Benveniste) and hermeneutics (H.-G. Gadamer). The Medial Age means Postmodernity becoming aware of the mediality of our condition. In many quarters, a middle-voiced thinking has replaced the modern active mentality fixated on the subject/object dichotomy. It focuses on the subjects and the processes they are involved in. The subject is not the active master of his/her endeavors but partakes in and of them. The main question is not who the subject is as opposed to its object but where we are. Location, not identity, is key. My contention is that federalism has been successful recently because it is middle-voiced and in tune with the Medial Age. In its most simple form, federalism is the combination of self-rule and shared rule (D. Elazar). If the common subject/object way of thinking prevails, federalism degenerates into an endless wrangling over local and central competencies. Understood medially, however, it lives up to its theological origin and its intriguing connection with the word faith. Not who does what and what it is but how it encompasses us becomes the question. Federalism is a matter of constantly seeking a balance between one’s rights and responsibilities with respect to each other within the many allegiances that constitute our lives (D. de Rougemont). Federations are our doing but they have a life of their own and thus make us what we are. They do not emanate from a center to the fringes but let all members become centers in their own right within them. They change our relation to the other because they unite people notwithstanding their differences. The point is not to be the same but to work together in a shared “within.”

Keywords: Hermeneutics, Middle Voice, Federalism, Gadamer, Benveniste

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 9, pp.85-94. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 532.668KB).

Dr. Philippe Eberhard

Adjunct Professor, Languages and Cultures, William Paterson University, NJ, USA


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