This paper is a review of how biological as well as other scientific theories, concepts and findings have been used to answer philosophical questions regarding the nature of male homosexuality. We argue that while these sciences are certainly relevant for present philosophical debates, few of the different philosophical issues surrounding male homosexuality can be settled by science alone. In the first section, we introduce a number of various essentialist and constructivist views on (male) homosexuality. The second section (...) focuses on the innateness debate over homosexuality. In the last section, we assess the typically constructivist critiques of biological research into homosexuality. (shrink)
Jamake Highwater is a master storyteller and one of our most visionary writers, hailed as "an eloquent bard, whose words are fire and glory" (Studs Terkel) and "a writer of exceptional vision and power" (Ana"is Nin). Author of more than thirty volumes of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, Highwater--considered by many to be the intellectual heir of Joseph Campbell--has long been intrigued by how our mythological legacies have served as a foundation of modern civilization. Now, in The Mythology of Transgression, he (...) uses his remarkable narrative powers to offer a personal and extraordinarily far-ranging examination of how people who stand outside of society--by dint of their sexual orientation, physical appearance, ideas, artistic inclinations, or ethnic heritage--often achieve lasting, even profound influence upon the culture at large. Drawing from a stunningly rich variety of sources ranging from the arts and literature to biology, physics, psychology, and anthropology, Highwater looks at his own outsider status--as a gay man, an artist, and an orphaned Native American--in an attempt to explore how mythologies from ancient times to the present have shaped the ways we think about social "abnormality" and alienation. Throughout, he points to a paradox at the center of Western values--the competing notions that the outsider is at once sinful and wise, that in everyday life the transgressor is ostracized, while in our most durable folklore and religious legends, heroes must break the rules to achieve greatness. Focusing in particular on homosexuality as a modern metaphor of transgression, Highwater brilliantly mixes personal anecdotes with wide ranging research, leading us on a tour through the history of social conformity and rejection, citing examples that span from Judeo-Christian-Islamic doctrines of good and evil, to the Navajo Nation's ambivalence toward the nature of sexuality, to Carson McCullers's treatment of physical deformity in the novella Member of the Wedding, to Descartes's theories of dualism. He also pays special attention to the debates currently raging in science regarding the biology of homosexuality and provides an engaging discussion of why we are motivated to seek a genetic basis of sexual orientation in the first place. Jamake Highwater has long been celebrated as a writer uniquely suited to give voice to the social outsider. Often provocative, always fascinating, The Mythology of Transgression is a tour de force of eloquent scholarship, a book that will prompt discussion and debate on the subject for years to come. (shrink)
"My work has had nothing to do with gay liberation," Michel Foucault reportedly told an admirer in 1975. And indeed there is scarcely more than a passing mention of homosexuality in Foucault's scholarly writings. So why has Foucault, who died of AIDS in 1984, become a powerful source of both personal and political inspiration to an entire generation of gay activists? And why have his political philosophy and his personal life recently come under such withering, normalizing scrutiny by (...) commentators as diverse as Camille Paglia, Richard Mohr, Bruce Bawer, Roger Kimball, and biographer James Miller? David M. Halperin's Saint Foucault is an uncompromising and impassioned defense of the late French philosopher and historian as a galvanizing thinker whose career as a theorist and activist will continue to serve as a model for other gay intellectuals, activists, and scholars. A close reading of both Foucault and the increasing attacks on his life and work, it explains why straight liberals so often find in Foucault only counsels of despair on the subject of politics, whereas gay activists look to him not only for intellectual inspiration but also for a compelling example of political resistance. Halperin rescues Foucault from the endless nature-versus-nurture debate over the origins of homosexuality ("On this question I have absolutely nothing to say," Foucault himself once remarked) and argues that Foucault's decision to treat sexuality not as a biological or psychological drive but as an effect of discourse, as the product of modern systems of knowledge and power, represents a crucial political breakthrough for lesbians and gay men. Halperin explains how Foucault's radical vision of homosexuality as a strategic opportunity for self-transformation anticipated the new anti-assimilationist, anti-essentialist brand of sexual identity politics practiced by contemporary direct-action groups such as ACT UP. Halperin also offers the first synthetic account of Foucault's thinking about gay sex and the future of the lesbian and gay movement, as well as an up-to-the-minute summary of the most recent work in queer theory. "Where there is power, there is resistance," Michel Foucault wrote in The History of Sexuality, Volume I. Erudite, biting, and surprisingly moving, Saint Foucault represents Halperin's own resistance to what he views as the blatant and systematic misrepresentation of a crucial intellectual figure, a misrepresentation he sees as dramatic evidence of the continuing personal, professional, and scholarly vulnerability of all gay activists and intellectuals in the age of AIDS. (shrink)
This volume is an indispensable reference for a wide range of scholars working across multidisciplinary fields of inquiry that focus on British and continental histories of medicine and sexuality, gender history and studies of nineteenth ...
Although modern societies have come to recognize diversity in human sexuality as simply part of nature, many Christian communities and thinkers still have considerable difficulties with related developments in politics, legislation, and science. In fact, homosexuality is a recurrent topic in the transdisciplinary encounter between Christianity and the sciences, an encounter that is otherwise rather “asexual.” I propose that the recent emergence of “Christianity and Science” as an academic field in its own right is an important part of the (...) larger context of the difficulties related to attempts to reconcile Christianity and a recognition of diversity in human sexuality as a norm. Through a critical discussion of arguments which are upheld most disturbingly on a global scale by the Roman Catholic Church and supported with much sophistry by important stakeholders of an influential stream in analytic philosophy of religion, this paper aims to contextualize and defend the legitimacy of the question why God would create homosexuals as such if it is true that every homosexual act is prohibited by God. While recently advanced nonheterosexist scientific models of sexuality in nature inform the discussion, I reject the simplistic view that religions suppress and the sciences liberate in matters sexual. (shrink)
This paper describes an interdisciplinary course on the philosophy of human nature that centers on the famous 1924 kidnapping-ransom-murder case involving Leopold and Loeb . After recounting the details of the “perfect crime” of Leopold and Loeb, the course is structured around five units: free will/determinism, the debate between retributivists and therapeutic approaches to punishment, the morality of the death penalty, Nietzsche’s critique of Christianity and “slave moralities”, and homosexuality. In addition to being truly interdisciplinary, the course promotes (...) the critical evaluation of a variety of non-philosophical works and shows how philosophy can play a role in making sense of the “real world”. (shrink)
Politics, Philosophy, Culture contains a rich selection of interviews and other writings by the late Michel Foucault. Drawing upon his revolutionary concept of power as well as his critique of the institutions that organize social life, Foucault discusses literature, music, and the power of art while also examining concrete issues such as the Left in contemporary France, the social security system, the penal system, homosexuality, madness, and the Iranian Revolution.
Abstract: This essay explores recent trends and major issues related to gay and lesbian philosophy in ethics (including issues concerning the morality of homosexuality, the natural function of sex, and outing and coming out); religion (covering past and present debates about the status of homosexuality and how biblical and qur'anic passages have been interpreted by both sides of the debate); the law (especially a discussion of the debates surrounding sodomy laws, same-sex marriage and its impact on transsexuals, (...) and whether the law should be used to enforce morality); scientific research into the origins of homosexuality (including discussion of arguments against such research); and metaphysics (especially the question of whether homosexuality is socially constructed during particular times and in particular cultures, or whether sexual orientation is an essential trait cutting across times and cultures). (shrink)
Science and Homosexualities is the first anthology by historians of science to examine European and American scientific research on sexual orientation since the coining of the word "homosexual" almost 150 years ago. This collection is particularly timely given the enormous scientific and popular interest in biological studies of homosexuality, and the importance given such studies in current legal, legislative and cultural debates concerning gay civil rights. However, scientific and popular literature discussing the biology of sexual orientation have been short-sighted (...) in representing it as objective, new scientific work. This volume demonstrates that the quest for the biological "cause" of homosexuality and other sexualities is as old as the term itself. These essays explore the active role experimental subjects played in shaping scientific theories of homosexuality and cultural perceptions of sexuality and sexual identity. Finally this anthology studies the way in which this doctor-patient interaction shaped not only scientific theories of homosexuality, but also cultural perceptions and self-identities as well. Contributors include: Garland E. Allen, Erin G. Carlston, Julian Carter, Alice D. Dreger, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Margaret Gibson, Stephanie Kenen, Hubert Kennedy, Harry Oosterhuis, James Steakley, Richard Pillard, Jennifer Terry. (shrink)
For a balanced discussion of the main social, medical, and philosophical aspects of homosexuality, here is the ideal book. Written by philosophers of science, each comprehensive chapter takes a critical look at research on the etiology of homosexuality. Read Philosophy and Homosexuality and examine the evidence for both the sociobiological and hormonal explanations of homosexuality and study the definitions of sexual orientation and how they have affected research.
In the last decade, fierce controversy has arisen over the nature of sexual orientation. Scientific research, religious views, increasingly ambiguous gender roles, and the growing visibility of sexual minorities have sparked impassioned arguments about whether our sexual desires are hard-wired in our genes or shaped by the changing forces of society. In recent years scientific research and popular opinion have favored the idea that sexual orientations are determined at birth, but philosopher and educator Edward Stein argues that much of what (...) we think we know about the origins of sexual desire is probably wrong. Stein provides a comprehensive overview of such research on sexual orientation and shows that it is deeply flawed. Stein argues that this research assumes a picture of sexual desire that reflects unquestioned cultural stereotypes rather than cross-cultural scientific facts, and that it suffers from serious methodological problems. He considers whether sexual orientation is even amenable to empirical study and asks if it is useful for our understanding of human nature to categorize people based on their sexual desires. Perhaps most importantly, Stein examines some of the ethical issues surrounding such research, including gay and lesbian civil rights and the implications of parents trying to select or change the sexual orientation of their children. The Mismeasure of Desire offers a reasoned, accessible, and incisive examination of contemporary thinking about one of the most hotly debated issues of our time and adds a compelling voice of dissent to prevailing--and largely unexamined--assumptions about human sexuality. (shrink)
"Annamarie Jagose knows that queer theory did not spring full-blown from the head of any contemporary theorist. It is the outcome of many different influences and sources, including the homophile movement, gay liberation, and lesbian feminism. In pointing to the history of queer theory-a history that all too often is ignored or elided-Jagose performs a valuable service." -Henry Abelove, co-editor of The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader The political and academic appropriation of the term queer over the last several years (...) has marked a shift in the study of sexuality from a focus on supposedly essential categories as gay and lesbian to more fluid or queer notions of sexual identity. Yet queer is a category still in the process of formation. In Queer Theory , Annamarie Jagose provides a clear and concise explanation of queer theory, tracing it as part of an intriguing history of same-sex love over the last century. Blending insights from prominent theorists such as Judith Butler and David Halperin, Jagose argues that queer theory's challenge is to create new ways of thinking, not only about fixed sexual identities such as heterosexual and homosexual, but also about other supposedly essential notions such as sexuality and gender and even man and woman. (shrink)
"This book is a succinct, pedagogically designed introduction. As classroom text, Sullivan's work is heady with vibrant debate and slim heuristics; her intellectual clarity is stunning." - Choice A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory explores the ways in which sexuality, subjectivity and sociality have been discursively produced in various historical and cultural contexts. The book begins by putting gay and lesbian sexuality and politics in historical context and demonstrates how and why queer theory emerged in the West in the late (...) twentieth century. Sullivan goes on to provide a detailed overview of the complex ways in which queer theory has been employed, covering a diversity of key topics including: race, sadomasochism, straight sex, fetishism, community, popular culture, transgender, and performativity. Each chapter focuses on a distinct issue or topic, provides a critical analysis of the specific ways in which it has been responded to by critics (including Freud, Foucault, Derrida, Judith Butler, Jean-Luc Nancy, Adrienne Rich and Laura Mulvey), introduces key terms, and uses contemporary cinematic texts as examples. (shrink)
Nietzsche’s Revolution argues that Nietzsche is a revolutionary who aims to liberate modernity by overthrowing Christianity. Although Nietzsche’s terrified inability to follow through on this revolutionary project causes him to retreat into a retrograde essentialism of race and gender that betrays his own revolutionary promise, Nietzsche’s complicity in this failure bequeaths this revolution to us, his future readers, who can take it up in the form of poststructuralist queer theory and politics. This is a revolutionary future Nietzsche could neither have (...) foreseen nor endorsed, but is the necessary consequence of his quest to overthrow Christianity’s cult of meaning. (shrink)
Love and sex provide a fertile ground for philosophical inquiry, both conceptual analysis of the nature of love and sex and discussion of the many ethical issues that they raise. Moral issues arising from love include the permissibility of romantically loving more than one person at the same time and the moral value of romantic love and friendship. Moral issues arising from sex vary from the most fundamental question—the one addressed by Alan Soble in his paper in this issue—of whether (...) sex can be reconciled with respect for persons, to questions about the permissibility of sex in particular circumstances. Much current work in philosophy of love and sex concerns precisely such issues in applied ethics, for instance the topics addressed by the authors of four more papers in this collection—homosexuality, prostitution, relationships that cross power lines in academia, and the wrongness of rape and other sexual misdeeds. Other ethical issues about sex include the morality of casual sex, adultery and open marriage, sadomasochism, and pornography. (shrink)
What can psychoanalysis offer contemporary arguments in the fields of Feminism, Queer Theory and Post-Colonialism? Jan Campbell introduces and analyses the way that psychoanalysis has developed and made problematic models of subjectivity linked to issues of sexuality, ethnicity, gender, and history. Via discussions of such influential and diverse figures as Lacan, Irigaray, Kristeva, Dollimore, Bhabha, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker, Campbell uses psychoanalysis as a mediatory tool in a range of debates across the human sciences, while also arguing for a (...) transformation of psychoanalytic theory itself. (shrink)
The emergence of queer theory represents a huge leap in our understanding of lesbian and gay peoples. It embodies a context for treating these people as worthy of consideration in their own rights and not as an appendage to general cultural theory. Max Kirsch argues that the current development of this area is in danger of repeating past mistakes in the construction of analyses, and ultimately, social movements. In this way, the book presents an alternative to the current fascination with (...) the abstract categories of identity, culture and difference, and emphasizes the need for a discussion of the importance of communities and role of globalization on queer movements. (shrink)
What is queer theory? What does it do? Is queer theory only for queers? This vibrant anthology of ground breaking work by influential scholars, activists, performers, and visual artists is essential reading for anyone with an interest in sexuality studies. The fifteen articles--including one from Judith Butler, as well as an engaging introduction--map, contextualize, and challenge queer theory's project both within and beyond the academy. Summaries and suggestions for further reading make the volume an ideal course textbook.
The last five years have witnessed the birth of a vibrant new group of young scholars who are writing about queer law, politics, and policy--topics which are no longer treated as of interest only to lesbians and gay men, but which now garner the attention of political theorists of all stripes. Playing With Fire --the first scholarly collection on queer politics by US political theorists--opens the intersection of lesbian and gay studies and political theory to a wide audience. It covers (...) a wide range of issues, including: the theory of queer identities; the contrasts among ethnic, racial, and sexual identities; the debate between liberals and communitarians; the right to privacy; and the meaning of equal citizenship. Contributors: Gordon Babst, Lisa Bower, Cynthia Burack, Judith Butler, Paisley Currah, Morris Kaplan, Gary Lehring, Shane Phelan, Anne Marie Smith, Angelia Wilson, and Stacey Young. (shrink)
The emergence of queer ideas has unsettled other forms of exploring gender and sexuality, in particular feminism. In response, feminists have been significant critics of queer ideas. This book, through the contribution of important US and UK writers, seeks to explore the debates between feminist and queer theorizing in order to seek out interconnections between the two; they identify new directions in thinking about sexuality and gender that may emerge out of and at the interface.
The attraction of a wink, a nod, a discarded snapshot-such feelings permeate our lives, yet we usually dismiss them as insubstantial or meaningless. With The Logic of the Lure, John Paul Ricco argues that it is precisely such fleeting, erotic, and even perverse experiences that will help us create a truly queer notion of ethics and aesthetics, one that recasts sociality and sexuality, place and finitude in ways suggested by the anonymity and itinerant lures of cruising. Shifting our attention from (...) artworks to the work that art does, from subjectivity to becoming, and from static space to taking place, Ricco considers a variety of issues, including the work of Doug Ischar, Tom Burr, and Derek Jarman and the minor architecture of sex clubs, public restrooms, and alleyways. (shrink)
The author discusses natural law reasoning, from the 1960s in the context of Pope Paul VI’s Humanae vitae, to recent cultural and intellectual currents and their influence on the tradition. The challenges that have skewed acceptance of a common human nature and the existence of natural law are addressed. The author shows how the debate on contraception initiated this challenge against natural law reasoning and led to a more evolutive concept of human nature. Attention is drawn to a need for (...) natural law theorists trained in both modern science and Thomistic philosophy to engage the different scientific fields to clarify, adapt, rethink, and even modify the natural law language in accord with the latest discoveries compatitible with evolutionary findings. (shrink)
The argument presented here explores homosexuality within the context of applied Christian ethics. The argument works by asking students to grapple with and define the common characteristics of all eros relationships. Once the students analytically break down eros relationships, and wrestle with defining concepts such as “love,” “sex,” and “desires,” basic biblical moral precepts are applied. After this biblical application it can be shown that there is latitude enough in Christian morality to openly permit homosexuality that iscompatible with (...) biblically stated ethical dictums. The argument is pedagogical in nature, and is a challenging, engaging, and accessible argument that avoids the educational pitfalls that entangle other arguments of this nature. (shrink)
In response to powerful criticisms of older arguments, contemporary defenders of the Church’s traditional stance on homosexuality have fashioned a new kind of argument based upon the special relationship God created between the sexes. In this paper we examine two recent incarnations of this kind of argument and show that both fail to demonstrate the inherent immorality of homosexual relationships, and at most demonstrate that homosexual relationships are inferior to heterosexual relationships in certain respects. At the end of the (...) paper we argue that a good God would have reason to make a certain proportion of humanity homosexual in order to unmask sexist myths. In this way homosexuality could itself strengthen, rather than weaken, the special relationship God created between the sexes. (shrink)
The last decade has seen the transformation of the study of sexuality from a marginalized effort to a fully respected discipline at many major universities. There are numerous publications devoted solely to the topic and queer theory, a force to be reckoned with, has its own celebrities. Nonetheless, queer studies is considered to be the brainchild of the humanities, with the social sciences slowly coming around to apply its principles to empirical research. Long, Slow Burn, a powerful collection of essays (...) by Kath Weston, argues that social science has been talking about sex all along; to deny this one would have to overlook Kinsey's pioneering sex research in the 1950s, or the psychiatrist Evelyn Hooker's pathbreaking study of homosexuality, but also in the "sex talk" that lies at the heart of classic debates on kinship, inequality, cognition, and other foundational topics in the social sciences. What is different now, Weston claims, is the way sexuality has been isolated from other contemporary issues. Long, Slow Burn lays out a radically different approach to the study of sexuality. Not content with its ghettoization as a contained subfield, Weston refuses to draw an artificial line around sexuality. Her essays do not attempt to make sexuality a discrete object of study. Rather, each essay "sexes up" a conventional subject, such as kinship, race or labor, proving that once you start paying attention to sexuality, you can never look at social issues in the same way again. Long, Slow Burn offers an intervention, an attempt to see sexuality as it permeates the multiple fibers of our social fabric. It demonstrates that sexuality has always been a part of the social sciences, but more importantly, is the key to their future. (shrink)
The present research paper approaches homosexuality from a Foucauldian perspective. Foucault's place and standing in a postmodern historical and cultural context will be explained. The paper outlines how homosexuality has been historically constructed and socially constituted. How sexuality became understood as a particular form of discourse, that is as a science, will be explored particularly with regard to the strategic use of confession as a producer of knowledge. I will present how homosexuality, as a medicalized, ontological identity (...) was implanted in bodies and an entire pathological population was created. To reverse an excessive medicalized discourse of homosexuality, Foucault's prescription of moving to the care of self and predicating sexuality on the pleasure of bodies as opposed to scientific or clinical ideology will be discussed. Such critical analysis facilitates new imaginative spaces that can enable educators to engage in meaningful and informed dialogue around the various discourses surrounding homosexuality in a postmodern historical and cultural context. (shrink)
Discover the truth about sex in the city (and the country). Mapping Desire explores the places and spaces of sexuality from body to community, from the "cottage" to the Barrio, from Boston to Jakarta, from home to cyberspace. Mapping Desire is the first book to explore sexualities from a geographical perspective. The nature of place and notions of space are of increasing centrality to cultural and social theory. Mapping Desires presents the rich and diverse world of contemporary sexuality, exploring how (...) the heterosexed body has been appropriated and resisted on the individual, community and city scales. Editors David Bell and Gill Valentine have brought together contributors with a wealth of approaches to ways in which the spaces of sex and the sexes of space are being mapped out across contemporary culture. Among the many sexual geographies covered are: Lesbians at home and on the streets; gay men on fantasy islands; bisexual identities; The heterosexualization of the workplace; bachelor farmers and spinsters; surveillance and sexuality; prostitution; queer politics; sexual citizenship, and the transformation of intimacy. The book is divided into four sections: cartographies/identities; sexualized spaces: global/local; sexualized spaces: local/global; sites of resistance. Each section is separately introduced. Beyond the bibliography, an annotated guide to further reading is also provided to help the reader map their own way through the literature. Mapping Desire will be a valuable and accessible travelogue of information for anyone interested in social, cultural and political geography, lesbian and gay studies, cultural studies, or simply those who want to find out more about the sexual landscape of contemporary society. Contents: Part I: Cartographies/Identities; Resolving Riddles: The Sexed Body, Julia Cream ; Locating Bisexual Identities: Discourses of Bisexuality and Contemporary Feminist Theory, Clare Hemmings; Of Moffies, Kaffiers and Perverts: Male Homosexuality and the Discourse of Moral Order in the Apartheid State, Glen Elder; Femme on the Streets, Butch in the Sheets (a Play on Whores), Alison Murray; Body Work: The Performance of Gendered and (Hetero)Sexualized Identities in City Workplaces, Linda McDowell; Part II: Sexualized Spaces: Global/Local; Whenever I Lay My Girlfriend That's My Home: The Performance and Surveillance of Lesbian Identities in Domestic Environments, Lynda Johnston and Gill Valentine; The Lesbian Flaneur, Sally Munt; Fantasy Islands: Popular Topographies of Marooned Masculinities, Gregory Woods; Sexuality and Urban Space: A Framework for Analysis, Lawrence Knopp; Part III: Sexualized Spaces: Local/Global; "And She Told Two Friends...": Lesbians Creating Urban Social Space, Tamar Rothenberg; Trading Places: Consumption, Sexuality and the Production of Queer Space, Jon Binnie; Bachelor Farmers and Spinsters: Gay and Lesbian Identities and Communities in Rural North Dakota, Jerry Lee Kramer; (Re)Constructing a Spanish Redlight District: Prostitution, Space and Power, Angie Hart; Part IV: Sites of Resistance; "Surveilliant Gays": HIV, Space and the Construction of Identities, David Woodhead; Sex, Scale and the "New Urban Politics": HIV-Prevention Strategies from Yaletown, Vancouver, Michael Brown; "Boom, Bye, Bye": Jamaican Ragga and Gay Resistance, Tracey Skelton; The Diversity of Queer Politics and the Redefinition of Sexual Identity and Community in Urban Space, Tim Davis; Perverse Dynamics, Sexual Citizenship and the Transformation of Intimacy, David Bell; Guide to Further Reading; Bibliography. (shrink)
Examining the language and paradigms of science as rhetorical, that is, arising from the sociocultural forces that shape ideology, reveals androcentric assumptions that tend to thwart democratic public policy as well as effective methodology. This paper applies some recent feminist critiques of the biological sciences to the current research on the possible hormonal and genetic factors contributing to homosexuality, clarifying how this research perpetuates hierarchical binaries and suggesting ways to reconceptualize human sexuality through revised research protocols.
In his book SEXUAL DESIRE, Roger Scruton wrongly maintains that human sexual experience is essential intentional. His thesis depends on his highly revisionary definition of 'sexual desire', the artificial nature of which I expose and criticise. He admits that homosexual desire is capable of the same kind of intentionality as heterosexual desire, and is therefore not intrinsically obscene or perverted, but he advances reasons why homosexuality is morally different from heterosexuality and is therefore an object of disapproval. His arguments (...) presuppose 'an impassable moral divide' between the sexes, and are, on his own admission, not very cogent. Since he allows that homosexual desire is a natural and spontaneous phenomenon and also proposes that moral education should guide us towards a state in which our sexuality is entirely integrated within a life of personal affection and responsibility, consistency requires that he adopt a sexual ideology which does not discriminate against homosexuality. For homosexuals are unlikely to achieve the 'sexual integrity' which Scruton advocates (and which I endorse) if they are constantly encouraged to disparage their own sexual nature and if social institutions make no positive provision for them. (shrink)
continent. 2.1 (2012): 44–55. Philosophers are sperm, poetry erupts sperm and dribbles, philosopher recodes term, to terminate, —A. Staley Groves 1 There is, in the relation of human languages to that of things, something that can be approximately described as “overnaming”—the deepest linguistic reason for all melancholy and (from the point of view of the thing) for all deliberate muteness. Overnaming as the linguistic being of melancholy points to another curious relation of language: the overprecision that obtains in the tragic (...) relationship between the languages of human speakers. —Walter Benjamin 2 Prologue. Any text with an inflection of the word “thesis” in its title risks closing the borders of what is posited in it. However, perhaps it would be possible to think this act of defining in a way that is less, so to say, definitive. I would like to recall the opening line of Aristotle’s De Interpretatione , a constellation of theses, if anything. “First it needs to be posited [ thesthai ] what a noun and what a verb [is].” 3 Upon closer inspection, the definitions of the noun ( onoma ) and verb ( rh?ma ) do not at all appeal to any notion of strictly bordering-off, but are merely captured in a movement toward definition, establishing their own horizons. 4 It is therefore not a coincidence that Aristotle deploys the aorist medio-passive infinitive thesthai to describe this process. It is an infinite, self-instigating movement without proper horizon or telos . 5 It is this sense of thesis in relation to the basic components of language that I will attempt—perhaps in what may prove to be a gesture of what Walter Benjamin called “overnaming” 6 —to posit as cumposition , the composition of philosophical discourse that is conscious of the abyss of language in which it moves. 7 1. In her essay “When Philosophy Meant the Love of Wisdom,” Avital Ronell evokes the following question: What if philosophy’s love for wisdom has gone bad? The perversity of philosophy’s love not only appears in its recursiveness as the love of love for wisdom, first presented in Plato’s Symposium , but also “in all its brutality, especially when it’s set against literature and poetry.” 8 Philosophy’s love is a brutal one, perverse. Indeed, Immanuel Kant famously described the scene of metaphysics as a ‘battleground of … endless controversies,” 9 and “destined for exercising its forces in mock combat, and upon which no combatant has ever been able to gain even the least ground for himself by fighting.” 10 Because of the many modalities of love from the onset of philosophy onwards, Ronell signals the difficulty of addressing in any universal way the question of love in philosophy, unless she would consider it “in its essentially sado-masochistic dimension.” 11 As Heidegger already remarked parenthetically in his Introduction to Metaphysics , polemos as war and confrontation is the same as the logos . 12 Philosophy has always been a polemical discourse. 2. At the same moment, however untimely this moment may be, love has been conspicuously absent from Heidegger’s work. Nevertheless, Giorgio Agamben has been able to tease out Dasein’s love as a “passion of facticity.” 13 Agamben develops from out of Heidegger’s war-struck logos the following definition of love, which will allows to proceed to a reading of the origin of philosophy itself as the love of wisdom, a relation that in itself may hide “a kind of original fetishism.” 14 What man introduces into the world, his “proper,” is not simply the light and opening of knowledge but above all the opening to concealment and opacity. Al?theia , truth, is the safeguard of l?th? , nontruth; […] Love is the passion of facticity in which man bears this nonbelonging and darkness, appropriating ( adsuefacit [ ereignet ]) them while safeguarding them as such. Love is thus not, as the dialectic of desire suggests, the affirmation of the self in the negation of the loved object; it is, instead, the passion and exposition of facticity itself and of the irreducible impropriety of being. In love, the lover and the beloved come to light in their concealment, in an eternal facticity beyond Being . 15 Truth as al?theia , “unhiddenness” or “unconcealment,” which has in recent times again gained a special prominence in certain regions of philosophical discourse, is thus the ultimate expression of Dasein’s love, even if, for the philosopher, the beloved is love itself. 3. In Plato’s Symposium , Socrates famously introduces the philosopher as a figure in love with wisdom. But also Love himself is a philosopher, a lover of wisdom; he is an interpreter ( herm?neuon ), 16 a hermeneutic, a messenger between the gods and men. He organises all intercourse and dialectic interaction between them. 17 Plato’s definition starts with Socrates invoking Diotima of Mantineia, who had instructed him in eroticism. 18 Diotima inseminated Socrates with the seeds of philosophy, taught him how to love. We can imagine young Socrates paying his first visit to her, seeking affection and pleasure in her maternal body. “What then,” we hear Socrates asking, “may love be?” And here we find Diotima answering his call: “the love of the good is always to its own [ aut?i einai aei ].” Socrates answers: “that is the very truth [ al?thestata ],” 19 or, as Heidegger would translate it, “the most unhidden.” 20 So already in this primal scene of philosophy’s love we find the intimate relation between love and unconcealment. 4. If Love is a philosopher who practices the love of the good as the highest truth, an abyss opens: what is the truth of philosophy itself? Necessarily, this must be a truth outside the logic of (un)concealment, outside the logic of the Ereignis or the event, if it doesn’t want to fall into an infinite regress. Some have argued that there is no such thing as philosophical truth, yet this truth has appeared, albeit marginally, in another discussion of love, as the etumos logos , true discourse. 21 This was already pointed at by Michel Foucault, 22 and later commented upon by Christopher Fynsk: “the exigencies to which Foucault answered in seeking his 'truth,' [ etumos ] […] are linked to an exigency met in any consequent meditation on the essence of language.” 23 Any consequent meditation on the essence of language, perhaps a meditation as it takes place within philosophy on its own language, will have to arrive at a certain truth, even when as unstable, incoherent, and assaulting the borders of finitude as etymology may be. Etymology is the truth of philosophical discourse. 5. Our meditation on the relations between philosophy, love and truth means in no way to move toward a philosophy which would take “Desire” as its transcendental signified, distributing different desires for truth through different discourse levels, nor discard it as an extra-philosophical affect. A position such as would be assumed by any philosophy of desire is ferociously attacked by Jean-François Lyotard in his book Libidinal Economy , but in doing so he hits upon a—for him despicable—condition of the philosopher, the one who is “nothing but thought,” the one with whom we tend to sympathise; the condition of the “as if.” This is philosophy’s meta-ontological mask. Philosophy’s love is the love of the as if: “[A]nd so, to be, I have only to place myself as well in the circumference, turn with the intensities, act as if I loved, suffered, laughed, ran, fucked, slept, shat, and pissed, I, thought.” 24 Even though Lyotard wishes that “this supreme effort of thought die,” 25 we, in our turn and not so afraid to die, may now also perhaps define etumos as truth “as if” al?theia ; the former makes an appeal to the latter’s affect, but is not “the real thing”—or wherever the quotation marks need to take hold to stabilise our discourse. 6. Even a philosophical discourse as self-asserting and sanitised from any affective overtones as Alain Badiou’s does not escape this condition. In his work, the philosopher is a figure of circulation, someone who, at the end of the day, can only act “as if.” This typology of the philosopher is first hinted at in Being and Event , when Badiou claims that, “philosophy is not centred on ontology—which exists as a separate and exact discipline—rather it circulates between this ontology […], the modern theories of the subject and its own history.” 26 Philosophy is thus in the first place separated from ontology and therefore merely circulates along it. Beside ontology, which in Badiou’s work appears as a fully atonic axiomatization of set theory, 27 philosophy circulates through the theories of the subject, which, under the procedure of poetry, are subtractive of ontology, thus allowing for the appearance of a truth as an event ( Ereignis as the unconcealment of concealment) and subjective fidelity, and the history of philosophy itself: its discourses and the story of its limitless love of wisdom. For Badiou, the right of philosophy is the right to cite its conditions, the right to cite their truths. The text of philosophy is the text of citation. 28 The philosophical act thus is “an act of second thought.” 29 7. If, as Plato suggested, the love for the good is the highest truth, the bursting forth of this truth as event happens outside philosophy. Either as the ultimate idea that is sought or as uncounted inconsistency exploding into maximum existence, registered on philosophy’s seismographs, this truth as event remains tightly bound to a philosophical desire for truth. Mehdi Belhaj Kacem even claims that “the event […] is the ontological structure of Desire,” 30 and “Desire wants the event.” 31 Superlatively (perhaps: most truthfully), “The event has the structure of rape.” 32 Although we should place a number of question marks in the margins of Kacem’s philosophical project and his rapid conflation of multiple textual registers, he does point out a certain sedation of philosophy’s love of wisdom in Badiou’s work. However, that philosophy would be a place to house multiple truths, circulating among them, again opens us to the ‘perversity’ of this love that Ronell pointed out. Philosophy cruises truths. 8. How does philosophy’s “second thought” arrive, if ever? Philosophy’s lovely circulation through what is already presented by mathematics, theories of the subject and its own history is first conditioned by a sustained belief in the possibility of formalisation. But what if this formalisation itself is bound to fail? What if we deny formalisation, or at least point to the discomfort we experience of such forcing to formal appearance such as painstakingly described in Witold Gombrowicz’ literary oeuvre. Jacques Derrida already pointed out in reference to Husserl’s final appeal to geometry, that “the institution of geometry could only be a philosophical act.” 33 Similarly, we could criticise that the act of formalisation on which Badiou’s citational appropriation of mathematics, and therefore the circulation of philosophy, rests: “As soon as we utilize the concept of form—even if to criticize an other concept of form—we inevitably have recourse to the self-evidence of a kernel of meaning. And the medium of this self-evidence can be nothing than the language of metaphysics.” 34 At the end of the same essay Derrida sketches out the consequences this has for philosophy, which, however, strangely resonate with what Badiou proposes as philosophy’s circulation. One might think […] that formality—or formalization—is limited by the sense of Being which, in fact, throughout its entire history, has never been separated from its determination as presence, beneath the excellent surveillance of the is : and that henceforth the thinking of form has the power to extend itself the thinking of Being. But that the two limits thus denounced are the same may be what Husserl’s enterprise illustrates[.…] Thus, one probably does not have to choose between two lines of thought. Rather, one has to meditate upon the circularity which makes them pass into on another indefinitely. And also, by rigorously repeating this circle in its proper historical possibility, perhaps to let some elliptical displacement be produced in the difference of repetition: a deficient displacement, doubtless, but deficient in a way that is not yet—or no longer—absence, negativity , non-Being, lack, silence. 35 In many ways this resounds with what I have stated above. Although Badiou radically separates the “thinking of form” and the “thinking of Being” to respectively the meta-ontological/philosophical domain and the ontological/mathematical domain, the remainder within philosophy itself appears as this “ circle in its proper historical possibility.” And indeed we may have traced a “deficient displacement” which is not yet or no longer an “absence” as would be the truth subtractive to ontology: the “as if”–truth 36 of the etumos as truth in philosophy itself, the truth of philosophy as love of wisdom. 9. We may want to ask whether the two lines of thought theorised by Derrida and again separated by Badiou both exhibit this circularity. If that would be the case, this would allow us to consider their intertwinement more in depth. What Derrida calls the “thinking of Being” and Badiou refers to as “ontology” is thoroughly unbound by what is commonly referred to in an economic discourse as capitalism. The sudden insertion of a materialist trope may seem infelicitous here, however, capitalism has, as Badiou put it succinctly, also a “properly ontological virtue.” 37 The logic of capitalism, even though it operates in the “most complete barbarity,” 38 has an ontological virtue of its own, namely the destruction of the One as viable metaphysical point of departure. The “barbarity” of capitalism’s destructive character operates by “brute force,” but also sometimes by, as Walter Benjamin put it, “the most refined” 39 one. In any case, it unbinds all. As Lyotard stated in one of his seemingly unending sentences: Capital is not the denaturation of relations between man and man, nor between man and woman, is the wavering of the (imaginary?) primacy of genitality, of reproduction and sexual difference, it is the displacement of what was in place, it is the unbinding of the most inane pulsions, since money is the sole justification or bond, and money being able to justify anything, it deresponsibilizes and raves absolutely, it is the sophistics of the passions and at the same time, their energetic prosthetics; […] it has certain anti-unitary and anti-totalizing traits [...]40 Thus capital and capitalism are figures of unbinding and circulation. We find ourselves here in the metaphorical domain of philosophy that both in Lyotard and Badiou has its recourse to an economic discourse. Derrida has addressed this tendency at length in his essay “White Mythology,”41 and in a different register I will attempt to address it below, acknowledging that indeed philosophical language may be a “fund of 'forced metaphors.'”42 10. How is it that truth emerges from the ontological wasteland of capitalism, to be captured by philosophy’s love of wisdom? What is this love responding to and how is it that philosophy refuses to turn the other cheek to reality? Perhaps a beginning of an answer to this question may lie in the way in which Marx parenthetically defined capitalism: “the universal relation of utility and use” as “universal prostitution.” 43 which includes everyone: Prostitution is only a particular expression of the general prostitution of the worker, and because prostitution is a relationship which includes both the person prostituted and the person prostituting—whose baseness is even greater—thus the capitalist, too, etc. is included within this category. 44 It may prove fruitful to read general prostitution here in the logic of unbinding and circulation, following Benjamin, who speaks of an “erotology of the damned.” 45 Benjamin’s work on the German translation of Charles Baudelaire must definitely have influenced his work on the destructive character of capitalism. The tropes of prostitution and destruction already appear in his note on the poem “Destruction” from Les fleurs du mal . “The bloody apparatus of destruction,” Benjamin asks himself, where is this phrase in Baudelaire? 46 In Baudelaire’s poem, the demon of destruction takes on the “most seductive form” of women, and seduces the visitor to the “planes of Boredom,” where he is introduced to the “filthy clothes' and “open wounds” and the “bloody apparatus of Destruction.” Is it from these “planes of Boredom, profound and barren” 47 that philosophy gleans its truths. 11. If philosophy thinks ontology as prostitutional, whom does it cite? Although to some authors, it would suffice to use the indicative quality of language as such to open such an ontology, 48 we should perhaps focus here on the atonic desert where the prostitutional machinery is blithely at work as captured in the work of Pierre Guyotat. He opens up to such an interpretation when he states that his novel Tomb for Fifty Thousand Soldiers is, “in spite of everything, metaphysical; a metaphysics of history, certainly not religious; it is also a somewhat ontological.” 49 Several philosophers that I have addressed above refer to his work; for example Badiou, who refers to the “neo-classicism” of Guyotat as a resurrection of the “cosmological aim” of grand literature hearkening back to Lucretius. 50 Guyotat’s “prostitutional universe,” 51 which reduces “all vital norms to the immediate commercial potentials of the body.” 52 On the other side of the philosophical spectrum, Lyotard digs deeper, describing the actual jouissance of the worker submitted to the capitalist machinery, “the machine of the machine, fucker fucked by it.” 53 And he continues: “And let’s finally acknowledge this jouissance , which is similar […] in every way to that of prostitution, the jouissance of anonimity, the jouissance of the repetition of the same in work, […]. Jouissance is unbearable .” 54 This is what Guyotat so “admirably” expresses in his work, and is also professed by himself. The same logic as Lyotard’s clearly appears upon reading a few sentences from his seminal essay Langage du corps (Language of the body). But on reflection, what spectacle is more brutally exciting than that of a child wanking with his left hand, in this system, and writing with his right. In the resultant disarray. There must be seen one of the terms of this contradictory pulsional will, being at the same time seen and voyeur (“seeing”), pimp and whore, buyer and bought, fucker and fucked. 55 Lyotard described this—within a philosophical discourse that is—as a “superbly capitalist dispositif ,” 56 a mode of writing-masturbating in which production and consumption coincide, truly a “bloody apparatus of destruction.” This logic equally distorts the clear distance that is regularly maintained by writers—and nearly always by philosophers—toward their own work. To me, the most concise formulation of this contracted distance can be located in the neologism that Guyotat coins in his novel Prostitution: “ nhommer ,” ringing with both homme (man) and nommer (to name). For example in the otherwise “untranslatable” sentence: ma e s’renâcl’ chuya se l’mâl’ le nhomme’, lui prend la fess’ o lui frott’ la mostach. 57 Nhommer is therefore an en-hommer , an insemination of a man, life-giving and naming, as well as a n’hommer , its own negation and undoing. This is echoed by Benjamin when he says that in the Bible, “the 'Let there be' and in the words 'He named' a beginning and end of the act, the deep and clear relation of the creative act to language appears each time.” 58 Nhommer is a creative act philosophy cannot accomplish but only approach. The writer always n/mam/nes , the philosopher may only cite, at the risk of introducing prostitutional logic, the shortcuts between naming and creating, creating and exploiting the fabric of philosophy. 12. Prostitutional ontology, materially captured by the bloody, short-circuiting apparatuses of capitalism, can only be cited by philosophy, acted out, at the risk of unbinding the whole of philosophical discourse itself. The events and miracles on the atonic planes of boredom may not affect philosophy itself. This could be one of the reasons that sex and sexual difference have largely remained outside of the realm philosophy. Derrida has already done a considerable amount of work on this curious lack, especially in two essays entitled “ Geschlecht ” on Heidegger’s work and Dasein’s sexuality. In “ Geschlecht 1: Sexual Difference, Ontological Difference,” Derrida investigates the role of sexuality in Heidegger’s definition of Dasein, and his general silence on the topics of sex and gender. “It is as if […] sexual difference did not rise to the height [ hauteur ] of ontological difference. […] But insofar as it is open to the question of Being, insofar as it has a relation to Being, in that very reference, Dasein would not be sexiferous [ sexifère ].” 59 The material that I adduced above might give us a frame in which to interpret this repression of Dasein’s sexuality in Heidegger. In philosophy, sexual difference is cited as ontological difference. Prostitution is cited as the unbinding of Being. However, the unbinding or separating force, hailed as the virtue of capitalism and eagerly imported into philosophical discourse, perhaps even brought to the “height of ontological difference,” is also always already at work in philosophy itself, be it as a separation between ontological and theological domains in Aristotle or the separation between a truth procedure and the citational dispositif of philosophy in Badiou. The truth, as Anne Dufourmentelle put it in her book on sex and philosophy, extracted from the “torture chamber” 60 of philosophy is that this separation is always already sexualized. If etymology is not the key to Bluebeard’s seventh door, it at least opens up a little skylight in the chamber of horrors. In Latin, sexus means separation. The Church Fathers to whom we owe the development of the Latin language thus anticipated by several centuries Lacan’s too famous remark: “There is no sexual relation.” 61 The truth of Lacan’s statement that “there is no sexual relation,” in the precise sense that the term “sex” derives from “separation” and vice versa is only etymologically validated within philosophy. The power of its truth only appears etymologically as philosophical truth. 13. Literature does not need to prove this point. It immediately participates in the circulatory logic of sexuation, without the need to distance itself from it through citational checkpoints and border patrols. It allows language to derange freely, as literature often reminds us of. Dufourmentelle clarifies to us once again, illustrating Guyotat’s point that I cited above. The act of writing is performative: writing and thinking are acts. What philosophy cannot tolerate is the nonresponse to which the enigma of sex refers it. No philosopher can bear up the boudoir. What philosophy does not succeed in conceptualizing is the traversal of a disaster. […] It may be that traversing the impossibility of the relation to sex is what founds philosophy. The black sun of thought about sex. Sex is what leads to traversal, to exile; it orients and disorients. From this exile, literature is born. Literature is the other, hidden guest at this blind date in the boudoir. 62 In her introduction to Dufourmentelle’s book, Ronell even goes as far as suggesting that certain regions of philosophy may be coinciding with the realm of “obliterature,” a space of thought’s disavowal of sex. 63 Indeed, sex induces in philosophy an anti-Platonic “black sun of thought,” that is, following Julia Kristeva, melancholy, when the words don’t come: “Recall the speech of the depressed: repetitive and monotonous. Within the impossibility to link up, the phrase interrupts itself, depletes, halts.” 64 To refer ourselves to Aristotle’s first thoughts on properly philosophical language with which we opened this text, for Aristotle the mind suddenly “halts” the moment it hears a noun or verb that is not well inflected, not properly disseminated into language. 65 Already the minimum of grammatical failure is enough for the philosopher to fall into a stupor. The unworking of grammar is the melancholic condition of philosophy. 14. We need to find the language in which philosophy writes, a writing that organises the “ elliptical displacement” of philosophy blindly circulating through its conditions, perhaps even a “language of decentering, or a dispositif of acephalic writing.” 66 But as Ronell has brilliantly argued in her reading of Freud’s case of the Rat Man, “The Sujet suppositaire ,” the circulation of philosophy should always be read through a lexicon of intervention and insemination which she calls an “Oedipedagogy,” 67 a mode of obsessional neurotic thinking, that is, a mode of cir- cul -ation: around the arse, around the riddles of the sphincter. 68 As a mode of what Ronell calls with Freud the “obsessional neurotic style,” a style of punning, the cir- cul -ation of philosophy rests on paronomasia, that is, the domain of paronomy and etymology. This is however not without scandal. In some circles of truth’s closure, pun has remained the name of an indictment, an accusatory identification of that which takes too much pleasure, disarranging academic languages, promoting a rhetoric of looseness within the parameters of a recreational linguistics, valuelessly succumbing to the most indefensible copulations of meaning, related […] to the temporal succession of shame over pleasure, incriminating the grammar of some strict order of things, and so forth. 69 That punning and its avatars of paronomasia and etymology are already present in one of the most philosophical grammars of a “strict order of things” provides us with a clue that in composition of philosophical language itself, something may be “indefensibly copulating.” 15. In the opening paragraph of Aristotle’s Categories , otherwise a work of remarkable philosophical rigour and properly purged language, we may track down the “elliptical displacement” or “acephalic writing” of philosophy. This is not to be found in the first two semantic relations described by Aristotle—homonymy and synonymy, or the grand metaphysical concepts equivocity and univocity—but in the third one, largely neglected in the corpus of occidental philosophical discourse, or so it seems. This relation, or perhaps more felicitous, movement in language, is called paronymy , and is defined as follows: “Paronymous are called those which, differing from something through case, have an appellation according to the name [of those], like 'grammarian' [ grammatikos ] from 'grammar' [ grammatik?s ] and 'courageous-man' [ andreios ] from 'courageous' [ andreias ].” 70 Paronymy, which is regulated through case ( pt?sis ), the way in which words fall into a sentence, is addressed to the form of the word, the manner of its signification, and not its meaning. 71 Case is also the driving force behind ontological differentiation, regulating the formal aspects of Being falling into beings. What is regulated by case in philosophy is regulated by the supposedly unrestrained punning and paronomasia in the process of sexual differentiation. Paronymy and case offer philosophy a window to peek into modes of discourse it does not like to associate itself with. But at the same time, philosophy is already contaminated by paronymy, which introduces the problematic of formalisation itself, the form of the name and of language at the heart of many metaphysical issues. The glorious theories of accident and substance, subject and object, Being and beings, and so on, cannot be inserted in the philosophical discourse without the lubricant of paronymy. 16. Paronymy, moving from form to form, is not without its methodology. Aristotle’s logic of the paradigm closely mimics the movement of case, neither from particular to universal, nor from universal to particular, but from particular to particular. 72 We are confronted here with what Agamben calls a “paradoxical type of movement,” 73 a movement that moves along itself and away from the doxa , the rule, and which should only be deployed when other means of deductive of syllogistic reasoning are no longer available. The paradigm signifies an insufficiency of properly philosophical thought. It should therefore not surprise us that the paradigm finds its modern inflection in what Lacan calls the “signifying chain,” where “no signification can be sustained except by reference to another signification.” 74 Metaphor is here the name for “the effect of the substitution of one signifier for another in the chain, nothing natural predestining the signifier for this function of phoros apart from the fact that two signifiers are involved, which can, as such, be reduced to a phonemic opposition,” 75 whereas at same time it is the “sole serious reality for man.” 76 It is here that Lacan explicitly chooses the reality of the etumos , the material cause of psychoanalysis, over the revelation al?theia . We might therefore interpret psychoanalysis as the only inflection of philosophy that insists on etumos as the sole source of truth. 17. If it the case, again according to our teacher Aristotle, that all meaningful philosophical discourse is essentially composed in an organised manner, we may insert in the composition of that word itself, in its philosophical circulation, a foreign element. Perhaps this also means that I insert myself in a lineage of paranoia and obsessional neurosis, but then again, as Guy Hocquenghem remarked, homosexuality itself is commonly associated with paranoid persecution mania, 77 “the apparition of the word curiously drives a cascade of lapses, or at least of the interpretation of common words as lapses. There is no innocent or objective position toward homosexuality, there are no situations of desire in which homosexuality doesn’t play a role.” 78 So why would I pretend otherwise? As Ronell adds, and I should have warned you before, “neologisms are much more common in persecution mania patients than in others.” 79 In recognition of what composes philosophy always remains in circulation, no matter whether approached from an “ontological” or “linguistic” perspective, no matter how “meta” the separation machinery drives us, it is circulation itself that justifies the term, if it is one, cumposition . In naming the decentering force of philosophical discourse thus, I not only intend to stress the “with” ( cum ) of the philosophical sum-plok? or com-positio , that is present in it already since Plato, 80 but also the position of philosophy itself, whenever it will have arrived or cum, shooting for the stars of wisdom on the metaphysical firmament. NOTES 1. A. Staley Groves, Poetry Vocare (The Hague/Tirana: Uitgeverij, 2011), 86. 2.Walter Benjamin, “On Language As Such and the Language of Man.” trans. Edmund Jephcott, in Select Writings. vol. 1, 1913-1926 , eds. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), 73. 3.Arist. DI 16a1. 4.If only because already the translational issues with these two words are in themselves breaching the constraints of sound definition. 5.Giorgio Agamben’s work has focused extensively on this mode, see for example Potentialities , trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 234-5. 6.Walter Benjamin, ‘On Language As Such…,’ 73. 7.This is not to say that philosophy only resides in certain language games, as Wittgenstein would have it, but that negotiating the limits of those games—which, etymologically speaking, already carries in it the “com-” of philosophy’s “composition” as the morpheme “ga-,” cf. Gothic gaman , ‘participation’ or ‘communion’—determines to a large extent how much liberty philosophy is willing to grant itself in placing certain truths inside or outside its domains. 8.Avital Ronell, Fighting Theory , trans. Catherine Porter (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010), 1. 9.Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason , trans./eds Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 99 (Aviii). 10.Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics , trans./ed. Gary Hatfield (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 143 (Bxv). Cf. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 109 (Bxv). 11.Ronell, Fighting Theory , 2. 12.Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics , trans. Gregory Fried and Richard Polt (New Haven: Yale University Press), 65. 13.Giorgio Agamben, “The Passion of Facticity,”in Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy , trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen, 202. 14.Ibid. 196. 15.Ibid. 203-4. 16.Plat. Sym . 202e. 17.Plat. Sym . 203a. Philosophy as the love of wisdom is therefore recursively defined. Here we could perhaps trace one of the origins of philosophy’s auto-immunity that Ronell has commented upon on several occasions. She signals the so-called “end of philosophy” as one of the tropes characterizing the developing auto-immunity in the body of philosophy, and while at the same distancing herself from this trope she insists that we “continue to interrogate the figures used to designate the end, and to recognize the difference among such terms as closure, finality, terminus.” (Ronell, Fighting Theory , 3) 18.Plat. Sym . 201d. 19.Ibid. 206a. 20.Martin Heidegger, The Essence of Truth , trans. Ted Sader (New York: Continuum, 2002), 48. 21.Plat. Phaed . 244a. 22.Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure, The History of Sexuality, vol. 2 , trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), 235. 23.Christopher Fynsk, The Claim of Language: A Case for the Humanities (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), 65. 24.Jean-François Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , trans. Iain Hamilton Grant (New York: Continuum, 2004), 13. 25.Ibid. 13. 26.Alain Badiou, Being and Event , trans. Oliver Feltham (New York: Continuum, 2006), 3. 27.That is, the Zermelo-Fraenkel axiomatization, explicitly including the axiom of separation which does not allow for any inconsistent multiplicity, i.e. the appearance of the event. Nevertheless, ever since Richard Montague’s dissertation Contributions to the Axiomatic Foundations of Set Theory (Berkeley: University of California, 1957), we know that set theory can never be finitely axiomatized. 28.Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei and John Van Houdt, “Circulating Philosophy: A Note on Two Apparent Misquotations in Alain Badiou’s Logics of Worlds,” Theory and Event 14.2 (2011). 29.Alain Badiou, Conditions , trans. Steven Corcoran (New York: Continuum, 2008), 290, fn. 4. 30.Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Événement et répétition (Auch: Tristram, 2004), 208. 31.Ibid. 209. 32.Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, L’affect (Auch: Tristram, 2004), 93. 33.Jacques Derrida, Edmund Husserl’s ‘Origin of Symmetry’: An Introduction , trans. John P. Leavey, Jr. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989), 127. 34.Jacques Derrida, “Form and Meaning: A Note on the Phenomenology of Language,” Margins of Philosophy , trans. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 157. 35.Derrida, Ibid. 172-3. 36.Or, if you like, the “false truth.” See for an indictment of etymology along these lines Jean Paulhan, La preuve par l’étymologie (Paris: Minuit, 1953). 37.Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy , trans. Norman Madarasz (Albany: SUNY Press, 1999), 57. 38.Ibid. 57. 39.Walter Benjamin, “The Destructive Character,” Selected Writings, Vol. II.2, 1931-1934 , trans. Edmund Jephcott (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 541-2. 40.Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 135. 41.“In signifying the metaphorical process, the paradigms of coin, of metal, silver and gold, have imposed themselves with remarkable insistence. Before metaphor—and effect of language—could find its metaphor in an economic effect, a more general analogy had to organize the exchanges between the two 'regions.'’ Jacques Derrida, “White Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy,” Margins of Philosophy , trans. Alan Bass, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 1982, 216. 42.Ibid. 257. 43.“The exchangeability of all products, activities and relations with a third, objective entity which can be re-exchanged for everything without distinction—that is, the development of exchange values (and of money relations) is identical with universal venality, corruption. Universal prostitution appears as a necessary phase in the development of the social character of personal talents, capacities, abilities, activities. More politely expressed: the universal relation of utility and use.” Karl Marx, Grundrisse: Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy , trans. Martin Nicolaus, New York: Random House, 1973, 163. 44.Karl Marx, “Private Property and Communism,” Karl Marx Selected Writings , ed. David McLellan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 90. 45.Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project , trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 347. 46.Ibid. 256. 47.Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal , (Paris: Le Livre de Poche, 1999), 161. 48.For example, Jean Pierre Brisset, Le grammaire logique, suivi de La science de Dieu . Paris: Tchou, 1970, pp. 155ff. But we could equally point to the work of Jacques Lacan or refer to the intimacies between sexual and ontological differentiation as investigated by Jacques Derrida. 49.Pierre Guyotat, “L’autre scène,” Vivre (Paris: Denoël, 2003), 45. 50.Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event 2 , trans. Alberto Toscano (New York: Continuum), 76. 51.Alain Badiou “Guyotat, prince de la prose,” unpublished lecture (Paris: 21 October, 2005), n.p. 52.Ibid. 53.Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 109. 54.Ibid. 110-1. Lyotard formulates a position here parallel to Lacan’s analysis, which argues that the slave “can accept to work for the master and give up jouissance in the meantime.” (Jacques Lacan, Écrits , trans. Bruce Fink, New York: W.W. Norton, 2006, 259) This renunciation of jouissance founds the obsessive subject that I will discuss below, in an extension of the prostitutional logic developed by Lyotard. 55.Pierre Guyotat, “Langage du corps,” Vivre (Paris: Denoël, 2003), 24. Translation quoted from Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 139. 56.Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 139. 57.Pierre Guyotat, Prostitution (Paris: Gallimard, 1975), 90-1. In relation to his work we would also do well to recall the Lacanian dictum that “Punctuation, once inserted, establishes the meaning.” (Lacan, Écrits , 258) 58.Benjamin, “On Language As Such…,” 68. 59.Jacques Derrida, “ Geschlecht 1: Sexual Difference, Ontological Difference,” trans. Ruben Bevezdivin and Elizabeth Rottenberg, in Psyche, vol. 2 , eds Peggy Kamuf and Elizabeth Rottenberg (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), 8. 60.Anne Dufourmentelle, Blind Date: Sex and Philosophy , trans. Catherine Porter (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007), 56. 61.Ibid. 57. 62.Ibid., 101. 63.Avital Ronell, “The Stealth Pulse of Philosophy,” introduction to Anne Dufourmentelle, Blind Date: sex and philosophy , trans. Catherine Porter (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007), xv. 64.Julia Kristeva, Le soleil noir: Dépression et mé?ancholie (Paris, Gallimard, 1987), 45. 65.Arist. DI 16b20. 66.Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event 2 , trans. Alberto Toscano (New York: Continuum), 545. 67.Avital Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire: Freud, And/Or, the Obsessional Neurotic Style (Maybe),” Finitude’s Score: Essays for the End of the Millennium (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998), 108. Cf. also: “As mere reversal, this maintains the 'intervention' of which Lacan speaks in its classic column, still following the marching orders and route traced out by the commanding symbolicity of male homosexuality whose structures, in place since the time of Plato, continue to assure the paradigm of the transmission of knowledge.” (Ibid., p. 106) 68.“The anus can be said to mark a locus of privileged transaction between at least two gendered entities. It organizes a space from which rental agreements are negotiated, leases are taken out by one gender to permit the other gender provisionally—depending on the terms of the agreement—to occupy its space. The other of genital sexuality, determinable neither as masculine nor strictly speaking as feminine, anality nonetheless constitutes a sexuality, a shared space that is often vaginized.” (Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire,” 108) One could, and perhaps ought, to read Guyotat’s Prostitution , as exactly a constant negotiation of this sort, where language itself succumbs to this logic of “indefensible copulations.” (Ibid., 110) 69.Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire,” 110. 70.Arist. Cat . 1a12-15. 71.Cf. Pierre Aubenque, Le problème de l’être chez Aristote (Paris: PUF, 1962), 184, fn. 3. 72.See Rhet . 1357b26-30 and APr 69a13-16. 73.Giorgio Agamben, The Signature of All Things: On Method , trans. Luca D’Isanto with Kevin Attell (New York: Zone Books, 2009), 19. 74.Lacan, Écrits , 415. A similar idea, originating from a different perspective, but with a similar foundation in Aristotle, can be found in the work of Paul de Man: “The convergence of sound and meaning […] is a rhetorical rather than aesthetic function of language, an identifiable trope (paronomasis) that operates on the level of the signifier.” (Paul de Man, Resistance to Theory , Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1986, 10) 75.Lacan, Écrits , 756. 76.Ibid., 758. 77.“Psychiatry supposes in general an intimate relation between homosexuality and paranoia, but gives it often the following form: the homosexual frequently suffers from persecution paranoia.” (Guy Hocquenghem, Le désir homosexuel , Paris: Fayard, 2000, 32) 78.Ibid., 59. 79.Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire,” 117. 80.See Plat. Soph . 262c. (shrink)
This book's thirty essays explore philosophically the nature and morality of sexual perversion, cybersex, masturbation, homosexuality, contraception, same-sex marriage, promiscuity, pedophilia, date rape, sexual objectification, teacher-student relationships, pornography, and prostitution. Authors include Martha Nussbaum, Thomas Nagel, Alan Goldman, John Finnis, Sallie Tisdale, Robin West, Alan Wertheimer, John Corvino, Cheshire Calhoun, Jerome Neu, and Alan Soble, among others. A valuable resource for sex researchers as well as undergraduate courses in the philosophy of sex.
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