Inheriting Cosmopolitics: Pericles, Whitehead, Stengers

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Milan Stürmer
  • Daniel Bella
Isabelle Stengers’ cosmopolitical proposal is an influential attempt by a European philosopher to transform the burdensome legacy of Western thought. Reconsidering her comprehensive engagement with the cosmology of the British mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, this article reveals two concepts as foundational to Stengers’ cosmopolitics: civilization and commerce. While not usually associated with a critical political theory, in her development of what we call a commercial political ontology, Stengers explores the modes of inheriting these ostracized notions. By tracing the genealogy of this political ontology back to Pericles’ first explicit defense of persuasion as a requisite for civilization, we argue that Pericles’ famous funeral oration provides the structure for Whitehead’s cosmology, and, ultimately, Stengers’ cosmopolitics. As such, we understand her cosmopolitical proposal as a dress rehearsal of a funeral eulogy for bourgeois society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTheory, Culture & Society
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)3-21
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 05.2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.