Welcome to the Academics webpage of Dr. Trevor Tchir, Associate Professor of Political Science in the Department of Law and Politics, Algoma University, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. Algoma University is unique in that its founding charter has a special mission of encouraging cross-cultural learning between Indigenous and other communities. In 2021, Tchir received the distinguished faculty award for his efforts in indigenizing and de-colonizing the politics program. Here you will find links or downloads of select publications, videos of conference talks or interviews, and a brief description of my teaching and research areas. Feel free to visit the other pages of this website, which are about my life in music. Politics and art have a long and interesting relationship, and my two pursuits, as a professor of political theory and as a singer-songwriter, have always informed each other. Academic contact: Trevor.Tchir (@) algomau.ca
Research Interests: Political Action, Ethics, Identity
My research focuses on how political action (praxis), whether it be deliberative or revolutionary, both reveals and shapes the identities of the actors. I explore how human moral and political ends (teloi) have changed through history, as well as what phenomena, either economic, technological, or social, enable or challenge contemporary democratic practices and institutions. My research on the political theory of Hannah Arendt focused on her mobilization of metaphors from the art world, as well as the ancient Greek figure of the 'daimon,' to develop her account of identity disclosure. My earlier research focused on how Charles Taylor engages with the expressive theory of language to develop his account of political and moral selfhood.
Book: Hannah Arendt's Theory of Political Action: Daimonic Disclosure of the 'Who' (2017)
This book presents an account of Hannah Arendt's performative and non-sovereign theory of freedom and political action, with special focus on action's disclosure of the unique 'who' of each agent. It aims to illuminate Arendt's critique of sovereign rule, totalitarianism, and world-alienation, her defense of a distinct political sphere for engaged citizen action and judgment, her conception of the 'right to have rights,' and her rejection of teleological philosophies of history. Arendt proposes that in modern, pluralistic, secular public spheres, no one metaphysical or religious idea can authoritatively validate political actions or opinions absolutely. At the same time, she sees action and thinking as revealing an inescapable existential illusion of a divine element in human beings, a notion represented well by the 'daimon' metaphor that appears in Arendt's own work and in key works by Plato, Heidegger, Jaspers, and Kant, with which she engages. While providing a post-metaphysical theory of action and judgment, Arendt performs the fact that many of the legitimating concepts of contemporary secular politics retain a residual vocabulary of transcendence. This book will be of interest not only to Arendt scholars, but also to students of identity politics, the critique of sovereignty, international political theory, political theology, and the philosophy of history.
“Hannah Arendt was a resolutely worldly thinker, but she could never shake what Trevor Tchir calls the "grammar of transcendence"―no more than Socrates could escape his daimon. This rich, erudite study tracks the figure of the daimon across a surprisingly wide range of Arendt's work―which, Tchir shows, can be read as a sustained attempt to transform this divine power into a figure of secular non-sovereignty. A compelling intervention.”
— Dr. Patchen Markell, University of Chicago
“This is a rich and provocative account of Arendt’s concept of human action as both non-sovereign and un-moored in relation to traditional sources of authority and belief. Tchir’s emphasis on the daimonic dimension of ‘the who’ powerfully suggests the mysterious process of negotiation between thinking (withdrawing from the world of human affairs) and politics (engaging in this world) that characterises action.”
— Professor Anna Yeatman, Western Sydney University, Australia
“This book advances our understanding of Hannah Arendt’s ideas of action and political life with an original and provocative focus on the idea of the Daimon. Tchir critically assesses Arendt’s encounter with Heidegger, Marx, and Kant, leaving us with a better understanding of her and the political theorists with whom she grappled. As a result, we are left with new insights into how Arendt’s political theory can speak to the contemporary condition.”
— Professor Anthony Lang, University of St. Andrews, UK