The Political Ontology of Human Essence: An Investigation of Concepts of the Human Being in Contemporary Liberal Ways of Governing

Christina Dahl Lund

Student thesis: Master thesis


The Political Ontology of Human Essence is a master thesis from a Danish university program in Political Communication and Leadership. From a poststructural vantage point, the thesis investigates how the essence of the human being is discursively conceptualized and unfolded in contemporary liberal ways of governing. The investigation is conducted through a Foucauldian inspired discourse analysis that observes the observations on human essence in four national, as well as international, political texts: the two American political party platforms of the Republican Party and Democratic Party respectively; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and the European Convention on Human Rights. Throughout the analysis and discussion of the thesis, these observations of human essence are observed through a prism of a three-folded methodological taxonomy. The thesis finds a conditioned rich human essence dispositive in contemporary liberal ways of governing and discusses the implications of this dispositive for social relations, for instance in the sense of phenomenological intersubjectivity. The final part of the paper critically reflects on the findings and, furthermore, considers future perspectives in the field of social science. In this context, a methodological tool, that can mitigate scientific blind spots, and biases, in the field of social science, is presented. The main hypothesis of the paper is that the political ontology of human essence in contemporary liberal ways of governing, observes its object – the essence of the human being – as an object of governance and, hereby, construes concepts of the human being in a discursive field of possibility in accordance with this fundamental observation. The implication of this observation of the essence of the human being is an epistemology that assumes veridiction in regimes of rationality that consolidate this political ontology of human essence. As a result, techniques of governance, such as panopticism, and disciplinary mechanisms informed by biopolitics become highly proliferated.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages88
SupervisorsMitchell Dean