On emploie ici le terme « structuralisme » dans un sens large, incluant les œuvres de Lévi-Strauss et Barthes aussi bien que celles d'Althusser, de Lacan, de Foucault. J'y vois non pas un système ou une école de pensée, mais un mouvement, et j'y inclus également le « post-structuralisme » de Derrida et de Deleuze, en tant que « négation déterminée » de certains présupposés. Je soutiens que le structuralisme ne se caractérise pas par une position objectiviste, mais par la (...) relance de la tentative pour produire une « genèse » ou une « construction » du sujet au sein de structures transindividuelles, et donc pour y voir un système d'effets au lieu d'une cause originaire. Cette conversion d'un point de vue du sujet constituant au point de vue du sujet constitué explique l'importance des modèles linguistique, psychanalytique et anthropologique, ainsi que d'une certaine interprétation du marxisme comme théorie de l'imaginaire social chez les structuralistes. Quant au post-structuralisme, il déploie un mouvement de rectification, en présentant les limites de la subjectivité, qui impliquent la dissolution de la « normalité » et la mise à jour de la violence inhérente au processus de constitution, comme des « différences » pures qui engendrent l'activité et la passivité. Ce second mouvement contribue de façon décisive à conférer au structuralisme, non seulement une portée épistémologique, mais aussi une orientation éthique. (shrink)
The paper, which retains a hypothetical character, argues that Spinoza's propositions referring to God (or involving the use of the name ‘God’, essentially in the Ethics), can be read in a fruitful manner apart from any pre-established hypothesis concerning his own ‘theological preferences’, as definite descriptions of three ‘ideas of God’ which have the same logical status: one (akin to Jewish Monotheism) which identifies the idea of God with the idea of the Law, one (akin to a heretic ‘Socinian’ version (...) of Christianity) which identifies it with the idea of Human Love, and one (akin to a form of Cosmotheism, rather than ‘Pantheism’) which identifies it with Nature. Evidence of this analytic tripartition can be found in the letter of the texts themselves. If accepted (at least as a thought experiment), it would carry three interesting consequences: 1) to renew our understanding of the theory of the ‘three kinds of knowledge’, which have obvious affinities with the three possible ways of understanding the idea of God; 2) to emphasize the critical move associated by Spinoza with each of the three ideas of God (passing from an anthropomorphic legislator to an impersonal command, passing from an imaginary community of similarities to a practical community of singularities, and passing from a teleological and harmonious idea of nature to a causal, even conflictual, idea of its infinite power); 3) to locate the essential ethical and political questions associated with religion on the ‘vectors’ which lead from one idea to another, and represent themselves practical conatus: obedience, utility, order. It is also assumed that such a reading enhances the relevance of Spinoza's philosophy with respect to contemporary debates about religion and secularism. (shrink)
Philosophy and the Frontiers of the Political is the title of a biographical-theoretical interview between Emanuela Fornari and Étienne Balibar. The interview falls into three parts. The first part retraces the theoretical and intellectual climate in which Balibar received his education in the early 1960s: in this context the study of classical thinkers such as Spinoza went hand in hand with a radical rethinking of the relations between politics and philosophy, conducted in the context of an attempt to provide a (...) critical reconstruction of Marxism that drew upon the revolutionary perspective of structuralism. Through his friendship and association with his teacher Louis Althusser, Balibar developed a specific conception of philosophy as a "Kampfplatz," or battle-field, where we must struggle to forge a significant relationship between theory and practice, or between philosophy and politics. The second part of the interview focusses on questions of European nationalism and "neo-racism," and the way in which these questions come to explode the classical perspective of Marxism. In this context Balibar discusses his intellectual relations with Jacques Derrida and with Immanuel Wallerstein, and his attitude to the latter's theory of the "system-world." Balibar explains how his own conception of the relation between ideological formations and processes of accumulation can be described as a disjunctive synthesis: as a heterogeneous union of problems that have no determining "final instance." Finally, the third part of the interview is dedicated to a discussion of "cosmopolitics" and the role of Europe in the transition from the modern system of nation states to the new transnational and postnational constellation. Balibar's approach essentially undertakes to reactivate, in the context of global modernity, a Machiavellian conception of "conflictual democracy" which identifies the very core of the democratic principle in the constant interaction between the logic of conflict and the logic of institutions. (shrink)
Abstract. This paper combines reflections on the current "state of war" in the Middle East with an epistemological discussion of the meaning and implications of the category "war" itself, in order to dissipate the confusions arising from the idea of a "War on Terror." The first part illustrates the insufficiency of the ideal type involved in dichotomies which are implicit in the naming and classifications of wars. They point nevertheless to a deeper problem which concerns the antinomic character of a (...) collective institution of violence. The second part discusses the extent to which, in spite of the historical transformations in the means and political objectives of wars, the contemporary confrontation still obeys the rules of warfare described by Clausewitz, particularly with respect to temporality ("friction"). The third part discusses "non-clausewitzian" aspects of the "new wars" defined by Martin Van Creveld and Mary Kaldor, while suggesting that they have left aside the most salient contradiction illustrated by the US interventions, which results from the combination of a claim to universal sovereignty and a reduction of war to generalized police operations. (shrink)
This paper presents the main directions of a new research project that centres on the paradox of the enunciation of the universal. Historical experience and the history of philosophy have made us highly sceptical towards the very possibility of enunciating the universal, yet the universal can be said to have become a fact of contemporary life, and the attempt at enunciating the universal remains an inescapable demand, in politics and notably in practice. Not to enunciate the universal is impossible, but (...) to enunciate it is untenable. Three directions of questioning emerge from this paradox. First, a rereading of Hegel helps us to study the conflict of universalities. Second, with Marx, we can revisit the problem of ideology, the relation between the enunciation of the universal and the idea of domination. And thirdly, by rereading texts by Freud on identification and ideality, we can revisit the relation of the universal to the idea of community, and the aporia of its deconstruction. (shrink)
As a contribution to the debate on the future of philosophy as an autonomous discipline beyond its current function within Western-type universities, a comparison is offered between three diverging strategies of “speaking the universal” which keep their relevance today; the “Double Truth” strategy for secular tolerance, illustrated by Spinoza and Wittgenstein; the construction of the universal as “hegemony,” analyzed by Hegel and Marx in terms of collective consciousnesses or ideologies; and the program of generalized translation as it emerges from the (...) critique of traditional “paradoxes of the untranslatable” in the works of contemporary socio-linguists and pragmatic philosophers. The conclusion remains an open questioning on the equivocity of the universal. (shrink)
The Spinoza party -- The Tractatus Theologico-Politicus: a democratic manifesto -- The Tractatus Politicus: a science of the state -- The Ethics: a political anthropology -- Politics and communication.
Le rapport entre « conscience » et « identité » forme l'un des deux versants de la conception lockienne du sujet (l'autre étant constitué par la « propriété de soi-même »). La théorie lockienne repose sur la distinction du « mental » et du « verbal », et l'isolement du premier comme élément de la vérité. Elle suppose une reformulation du principe d'identité sous la forme d'une double négation inhérente à l'esprit (Mind) : il est impossible que l'homme ne sache (...) pas qu'il pense, ou pense sans penser. Enfin elle caractérise comme « intériorité » la différentielle de perception et de réflexion qui opère tout au long de l'expérience. Dès lors le temps intérieur peut être intellectuellement et moralement ressaisi dans l'unité de la « conscience de soi ». Consciousness and Personal Identity form together one half of Locke's theory of the Subject (the other half being « self-ownership »). First of all, « mental » and « verbal » propositions (viz. truths) must be clearly distinguished. The principle of identity has to be reformulated in logico-psychological terms, as a double negation: it is impossible for the Mind to think, without knowing that it thinks. Finally the difference of perception and reflexion, which operates throughout « experience », is called an « internal sense » or interiority. As a consequence, Locke was able to call « self-consciousness » the typical unity of morality and understanding which forms the internal « duration » of the Mind. (shrink)
This book gathers together for the first time in English nine of Balibar's most influential essays written over the past decade. Together, they offer a provocative contribution to the project of renewing democratic theory.