Orient, Orientation, and the Western Referent

Rowman & Littlefield International (2017)
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Comparative political thought has long been defined by a major project to widen the horizons of Western thought by attending to non-European and non-western speculative traditions. This chapter explores not only the implications and potentialities of such a move, but also its possible flows. It addresses some of the limits determining the idea of ‘non-Western’ thought across comparative projects, pointing to the internal tensions, accidental assumptions and integral betrayals through which the Western tradition has constituted itself. Our approach here is to expose the contingent roots of the ‘Western referent’ in its problematic association with the idea of Europe, highlighting the way in which ‘orientation’ and ‘Orientalisation’ have helped to consolidate the normative ideal supplied by these two terms. We then proceed to examine a ‘minor tradition’ lying behind the unifying image of the Western canon, where an insight provided by Spinoza’s philosophy supports a critical transition from ‘comparative’ to ‘world’ thought. Functioning not as the synthetic sum of totalising local traditions but the constituent space of a nomadic thinking, ‘world’ thought embodies and valorises difference and production, opening up new possibilities for a synesthetic thought.



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Andrea Mura
Goldsmiths College, University of London

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The Nomos of the earth.Carl Schmitt - forthcoming - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary.

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