Susanna Siegel (Harvard): “The phenomenal public”

What modes of mentality can be used to grasp the idea of the ‘body politic’? A standard view is that within a polity, it is not possible to perceive the public – instead one has to imagine it. I argue that this view is wrong in letter but may be correct in spirit. Against the letter of the standard view, it is possbile to perceive the public, but as per the spirit of some of its motivations, this appears to be possible only in ways that inhibit democracy.


Susanna Siegel is Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. She currently works on topics in the philosophy of mind and epistemology.