Badiou and Nancy: political animals

In Nancy and the Political. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 43-65 (2015)
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Both Nancy and Badiou probe the contemporary power of the political, seeking to refashion communism as, respectively, an ontology that issues an imperative, and an as yet unrealized hypothesis to be seized in the present. In both accounts of politics, the limit of the human and the animal plays a crucial yet hidden role. Badiou's articulation of the ‘human animal’ and the ‘immortal’ poses troubling problems for the relation between the limits of the human and the limits of the political. In contrast, in the second volume of his Deconstruction of Christianity, Nancy reworks his notion of the human animal as a ‘being of sense’ in a way that poses awkward questions for his ontology of those who have nothing in common. For both Nancy and Badiou—but in opposite ways—the question of the limits and scope of the political is inextricably intertwined with the nature of the human/animal distinction.



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Christopher Watkin
Monash University

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