Noumenal power: concept and explanation

Steven Lukes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Does ‘noumenal power’ adequately represent ‘the real and general phenomenon of power,’ as the capacity to secure the compliance of others? Does it include what is relevantly similar and exclude what is not? Forst’s concept is, appropriately, interagentive, but errs in insisting that power is intentionally ‘exercised’ thereby excluding countless ways in which compliance can be otherwise secured. Does ‘noumenal power’ offer the best explanation of how power functions? In claiming that it must involve the recognition of reasons to act differently than one otherwise would, it does not address the role of emotions, overstates the role of reasoning, and excludes various significant ways in which power bypasses conscious awareness: through unconscious intuitions and inferences and taken-for-granted cultural schemas, by occlusion, excluding thoughts from consideration, and by signaling, in ways that mimic reasons.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)46-55
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Political Power
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 2 2018


    • Intenationality
    • occlusion
    • reasons and emotions
    • signaling
    • unconscious power

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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