Re-treating Religion is the first volume to analyze his long-term project The Deconstruction of Christianity,especially his major statement of it in Dis-Enclosure.Nancy conceives monotheistic religion and secularization not as opposite ...
The subject of this essay is the thing itself, examined through the fantastic character of phenomenality, that is, through the coming into being or opening up of the world. The world of appearance emerges from a simple, absolute nothing: there is nothing behind or before the world. There are right away many things, a world: one thing implies others, since for one to be it must distinguish itself from another. Thus, if `to be' means `to distinguish,' Being begins with the (...) parting of things that makes their connection possible. Thus the thing in itself is straightaway the undergoing of its own parting; being is a passion. The Imago , then, is not a picture or figure, but the arriving in presence, which imagination elicits or welcomes by advancing in response. Imagination, then, is not first of all open to an image, but to world. It opens itself to the Thing, to the possibility of something, to parting, and in so doing brings itself toward creation. (shrink)
In Being and Time, Heidegger affirms that being-with or Mitsein is an essential constitution of Dasein but he does not submit this existential to the same rigorous analyses as other existentials. In this essay, Jean-Luc Nancy points to the different places where Heidegger erased the possibility of thinking an essential with that he himself opened. This erasure is due, according to Nancy, to the subordination of Mitsein to a thinking of the proper and the improper. The polarization of Being-with between (...) an improper face, the Anyone, and a proper one, the people, which is also, as Nancy shows, a polarization between everydayness and historicity, between a being-together in exteriority (indifference and anonymity) and a being-together in interiority (union through destiny), between a solitary dying and the sacrificial death in combat, leaves the essential with unthought. This essay shows not only the tensions that arise out of Heidegger’s own analyses of Mitsein and affect the whole of Being and Time but also underlines in the end a “shortfall in thinking” inherent not only to Heidegger’s work but, as Nancy claims, to our Western tradition, a shortfall which Nancy has attempted to remedy in his Being Singular Plural. (shrink)
This collection of writings by Jean-Luc Nancy, the renowned French critic and poet, delves into the history of philosophy to locate a fundamentally poetic modus operandi there. The book represents a daring mixture of Nancy’s philosophical essays, writings about artworks, and artwork of his own. With theoretical rigor, Nancy elaborates on the intrinsic multiplicity of art as a concept of “making,” and outlines the tensions inherent in the faire, the “making” that characterizes the very process of production and thereby the (...) structure of poetry in all its forms. Nancy shows that this multiplication that belongs to the notion of art makes every single work communicate with every other, all material in the artwork appeal to some other material, and art the singular plural of a praxis of the finite imparting of an infinity which is actually there in every utterance. In the collection, Nancy engages with the work of, among others, François Martin, Maurice Blanchot, and On Kawara. (shrink)
'On the Meanings of Democracy' points to the fragility and contested meanings of 'democracy'. Once 'the assurance is given that "democracy" is the only kind of political regime that is acceptable to an adult, emancipated population which is an end in itself, the very idea of democracy fades and becomes blurred and confusing'. Such 'wide-spread lack of clarity' gave rise to Europe's 'totalitarian' regimes. It is claimed that 'it is impossible to be simply a "democrat" without questioning what this really (...) means', and that to ignore the conceptual difficulties is as 'dangerous as rejecting democracy completely'. A 'minimal argument or blueprint for an enquiry into the possible meanings' of the term is proposed. The implications of taking 'democracy', the word, 'to describe the exercising of political power by the people' are explored. The 'people' as a social group distinct from some 'other reputedly superior part, which dominates it', is distinguished from the 'people' taken to mean 'the whole'. In the first sense, 'democracy' is not a regime but an uprising against a regime or government. In the second sense, the 'political sovereignty of the people' signifies their 'self-constitution as a people'. Accounts of democracy that focus not so much on its 'political specificity' as on 'civil society' or the 'social bond' are then explored. The author concludes with a reflection on the relationship between democracy, 'modernity' and the scope, nature and place of politics. (shrink)
The obsession is pursued of a word, a sign, a thought that is identical with the thing it signifies, where there is no space between the two. And the nightmare is entertained that, if such an identity is not attained, then intellectual work in general is worth nothing and should be destroyed.
If anything marks the image, it is a deep ambivalence. Denounced as superficial, illusory, and groundless, images are at the same time attributed with exorbitant power and assigned a privileged relation to truth. Mistrusted by philosophy, forbidden and embraced by religions, manipulated as “spectacle” and proliferated in the media, images never cease to present their multiple aspects, their paradoxes, their flat but receding spaces.What is this power that lies in the depths and recesses of an image—which is always only an (...) impenetrable surface? What secrets are concealed in the ground or in the figures of an image—which never does anything but show just exactly what it is and nothing else? How does the immanence of images open onto their unimaginable others, their imageless origin?In this collection of writings on images and visual art, Jean-Luc Nancy explores such questions through an extraordinary range of references. From Renaissance painting and landscape to photography and video, from the image of Roman death masks to the language of silent film, from Cleopatra to Kant and Heidegger, Nancy pursues a reflection on visuality that goes far beyond the many disciplines with which it intersects. He offers insights into the religious, cultural, political, art historical, and philosophical aspects of the visual relation, treating such vexed problems as the connection between image and violence, the sacred status of images, and, in a profound and important essay, the forbidden representation of the Shoah. In the background of all these investigations lies a preoccupation with finitude, the unsettling forces envisaged by the images that confront us, the limits that bind us to them, the death that stares back at us from their frozen traits and distant intimacies.In these vibrant and complex essays, a central figure in European philosophy continues to work through some of the most important questions of our time. Jean-Luc Nancy is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Université Marc Bloch, Strasbourg. The most recent of his many books to be published in English are A Finite Thinking and Multiple Arts. Jeff Fort has translated works by authors such as Jean Genet, Maurice Blanchot, and Jacques Derrida. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. (shrink)
This book is a rich collection of philosophical essays radically interrogating key notions and preoccupations of the phenomenological tradition. While using Heidegger’s Being and Time as its permanent point of reference and dispute, this collection also confronts other important philosophers, such as Kant, Nietzsche, and Derrida. The projects of these pivotal thinkers of finitude are relentlessly pushed to their extreme, with respect both to their unexpected horizons and to their as yet unexplored analytical potential. A Finite Thinking shows that, paradoxically, (...) where the thought of finitude comes into its own it frees itself, not only to reaffirm a certain transformed and transformative presence, but also for a non-religious reconsideration and reaffirmation of certain theologemes, as well as of the body, heart, and love. This book shows the literary dimension of philosophical discourse, providing important enabling ideas for scholars of literature, cultural theory, and philosophy. (shrink)
This work, by two of the most innovative and challenging of contemporary thinkers, pivots on a Remark added by Hegel in 1831 to the second edition of his Science of Logic. As a model of close reading applied both to philosophical texts and the making of philosophical systems, The Speculative Remark played a significant role in transforming the practice of philosophy away from system building to analysis of specific linguistic detail, with meticulous attention to etymological, philological, and rhetorical nuance. The (...) authors use their extended examination of the Remark to delineate certain overall strategies in several Hegelian texts that militate for language-oriented readings of Hegel, as shown in Nancy's redefinition of such key terms as aufhebung, mediation, and speculation. (shrink)
One of the strongest strands in Nancy's philosophy is an attempt to rethink community and the very idea of the social in a way that does not ground these ideas in some individual subject or subjectivity. The fundamental argument of this book is that being is always 'being with', that 'I' is not prior to 'we', that existence is essentially co-existence. He thinks this being together, not as a comfortable enclosure in a pre-existing group, but as a mutual abandonment and (...) exposure to each other, one that would preserve the 'I' and its freedom in a mode of imagining community as neither a 'society of spectacle' nor via some form of 'authenticity'. (shrink)
This collection, by one of the most challenging of contemporary thinkers, asks the question: why are there several arts and not just one? This question focuses on the point of maximal tension between the philosophical tradition and contemporary thinking about the arts: the relation between the plurality of the human senses and sense or meaning in general. Throughout the five essays, Nancy's argument hinges on the culminating formulation of this relation in Hegel's Aesthetics and The Phenomenology of Spirit - art (...) as the sensible presentation of the Idea. He considers the emergence of art as presentation rather than representation and looks at the contemporary situation of art, and the question of whether art today is still art. Other essays provide intricate and compelling readings of Caravaggio's Death of the Virgin and an analysis of a traced hand in the grotto of Lascaux as the essential mimetic gesture. (shrink)
The central problem posed in these essays, collected from over a decade, is how in the wake of Western ontologies to conceive the coming, the birth that characterises being. The first part of this book, 'Existence' asks how, today, one can give sense or meaning to existence as such, arguing that existence itself, as it comes nude into the world, must now be our 'sense'. In examining what this birth to presence might be, we should not ask what presence 'is'; (...) rather, we should conceive presence as presence to someone, including to presence itself. The second section, 'Poetry', asks: What if art exposes this? In writing, in the voice, in painting? And what if art is exposed to it? How does it inscribe the coming of existence as such? The author's trajectory in this book crosses those of Hegel, Schlegel, Baudelaire, Nietzsche, Freud and Heidegger, in their comments on art and politics, existence and corporeality, everyday life and its modes of existence, and ecstasy. An analysis that dares this crossing involves all the varied accounts of existence, political and philosophical, as well as all the realms of poetry. (shrink)
This is the most systematic, the most radical, and the most lucid treatise on freedom that has been written in contemporary Continental philosophy. Finding its guiding motives in Kant's second Critique and working its way up to and beyond Heidegger and Adorno, this book marks the most advanced position in the thinking of freedom that has been proposed after Sartre and Levinas. If we do not think being itself as a freedom, we are condemned to think of freedom as a (...) pure 'idea' or 'right', and being-in-the-world, in turn, as a blind and obtuse necessity. Since Kant, philosophy and our world have relentlessly confronted this schism. To combat this renunciation of freedom, one must think the experience of freedom in thought itself: what it is that, simply in order for there to be thinking, must partake of freedom. (shrink)