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)
Appearing in English for the first time, Jean-Luc Nancy’s 2002 book reflects on globalization and its impact on our being-in-the-world. Developing a contrast in the French language between two terms that are usually synonymous, or that are used interchangeably, namely globalisation (globalization) and mondialisation (world-forming), Nancy undertakes a rethinking of what “world-forming” might mean. At stake in this distinction is for him nothing less than two possible destinies of our humanity, and of our time. On the one hand, with globalization, (...) there is the uniformity produced by a global economical and technological logic leading to the contrary of an inhabitable world, “the un-world” (l’im-monde)—as Nancy refers to it—an un-world that entails social disintegration, misery, and injustice. And, on the other hand, there is the possibility of an authentic world-forming, that is, of a making of the world and of a making sense that Nancy calls a “creation” of the world. Nancy understands such world-forming in terms of an inexhaustible struggle for justice. This book is an important contribution by Nancy to a philosophical reflection on the phenomenon of globalization and a further development on his earlier works on our being-in-common, justice, and a-theological existence. (shrink)
An essential exploration of sense and meaning. -/- Is there a “world” anymore, let alone any “sense” to it? Acknowledging the lack of meaning in our time, and the lack of a world at the center of meanings we try to impose, Jean-Luc Nancy presents a rigorous critique of the many discourses-from philosophy and political science to psychoanalysis and art history-that talk and write their way around these gaping absences in our lives. -/- In an original style befitting his search (...) for a new mode of thought, Nancy offers fragmentary readings of writers such as Nietzsche, Hegel, Marx, Lévinas, Lacan, Derrida, and Deleuze insofar as their work reflects his concern with sense and the world. Rather than celebrate or bemoan the loss of meaning or attempt to install a new one, his book seeks to reposition both sense and the world between the presence and absence of meaning, between objectivity and subjectivity. Nancy’s project entails a reconception of the field of philosophy itself, a rearticulation of philosophical practice. Neither recondite nor abstract, it is concerned with the existence and experience of freedom-the actuality of existence as experienced by contemporary communities of citizens, readers, and writers. -/- Combining aesthetic, political, and philosophical considerations to convey a sense of the world between meaning and reality, ideal content and material form, this book offers a new way of understanding-and responding to-“the end of the world.”. (shrink)
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)
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 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)
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 book is a profound and eagerly anticipated investigation into what is left of a monotheistic religious spirit—notably, a minimalist faith that is neither confessional nor credulous. Articulating this faith as works and as an objectless hope, Nancy deconstructs Christianity in search of the historical and reflective conditions that provided its initial energy. Working through Blanchot and Nietzsche, re-reading Heidegger and Derrida, Nancy turns to the Epistle of Saint James rather than those of Saint Paul, discerning in it the primitive (...) essence of Christianity as hope. -/- The “religion that provided the exit from religion,” as he terms Christianity, consists in the announcement of an end. It is the announcement that counts, however, rather than any finality. In this announcement there is a proximity to others and to what was once called parousia. But parousia is no longer presence; it is no longer the return of the Messiah. Rather, it is what is near us and does not cease to open and to close, a presence deferred yet imminent. -/- In a demystified age where we are left with a vision of a self-enclosed world—in which humans are no longer mortals facing an immortal being, but entities whose lives are accompanied by the time of their own decline—parousia stands as a question. Can we venture the risk of a decentered perspective, such that the meaning of the world can be found both inside and outside, within and without our so-immanent world? -/- The deconstruction of Christianity that Nancy proposes is neither a game nor a strategy. It is an invitation to imagine a strange faith that enacts the inadequation of life to itself. Our lives overflow the self-contained boundaries of their biological and sociological interpretations. Out of this excess, wells up a fragile, overlooked meaning that is beyond both confessionalism and humanism. (shrink)
At once an introduction to Hegel and a radically new vision of his thought, this work penetrates the entirety of the Hegelian field with brevity and precision, while compromising neither rigour nor depth.
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)
Christian parables have retained their force well beyond the sphere of religion; indeed, they share with much of modern literature their status as a form of address: "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." There is no message without there first being--or, more subtly, without there also being in the message itself--an address to a capacity or an aptitude for listening. This is not an exhortation of the kind "Pay attention!" Rather, it is a warning: if you do not (...) understand, the message will go away.The scene in the Gospel of John in which the newly risen Christ enjoins the Magdalene, "Noli me tangere," a key moment in the general parable made up of his life, is a particularly good example of this sudden appearance in which a vanishing plays itself out. Resurrected, he speaks, makes an appeal, and leaves."Do not touch me." Beyond the Christ story, this everyday phrase says something important about touching in general. It points to the place where touching must not touch in order to carry out its touch (its art, its tact, its grace). The title essay of this volume is both a contribution to Nancy's project of a "deconstruction of Christianity" and an exemplum of his remarkable writings on art, in analyses of "Noli me tangere" paintings by such painters as Rembrandt, Dürer, Titian, Pontormo, Bronzino, and Correggio. It is also in tacit dialogue with Jacques Derrida's monumental tribute to Nancy's work in Le toucher--Jean-Luc Nancy.For the English-language edition, Nancy has added an unpublished essay on the Magdalene and the English translation of "In Heaven and on the Earth," a remarkable lecture he gave in a series designed to address children between six and twelve years of age. Closely aligned with his entire project of "the deconstruction of Christianity,'" this lecture may give the most accesible account of his ideas about God. (shrink)
Adoration is the second volume of the Deconstruction of Christianity, following Dis-Enclosure. The first volume attempted to demonstrate why it is necessary to open reason up not to a religious dimension but to one transcending reason as we have been accustomed to understanding it; the term "adoration" attempts to name the gesture of this dis-enclosed reason. -/- Adoration causes us to receive ignorance as truth: not a feigned ignorance, perhaps not even a "nonknowledge," nothing that would attempt to justify the (...) negative again, but the simple, naked truth that there is nothing in the place of God, because there is no place for God. The outside of the world opens us in the midst of the world, and there is no first or final place. Each one of us is at once the first and the last. Each one, each name. And our ignorance is made worse by the fact that we do not know whether we ought to name this common and singular property of all names. We must remain in this suspense, hesitating between and stammering in various possible languages, ultimately learning to speak anew. -/- In this book, Jean-Luc Nancy goes beyond his earlier historical and philosophical thought and tries to think-or at least crack open a little to thinking-a stance or bearing that might be suitable to the retreat of God that results from the self-deconstruction of Christianity. Adoration may be a manner, a style of spirit for our time, a time when the "spiritual" seems to have become so absent, so dry, so adulterated. -/- The book is a major contribution to the important strand of attempts to think a "post-secular" situation of religion. (shrink)
In this lyrical meditation on listening, Jean-Luc Nancy examines sound in relation to the human body. How is listening different from hearing? What does listening entail? How does what is heard differ from what is seen? Can philosophy even address listening, écouter, as opposed to entendre, which means both hearing and understanding? -/- Unlike the visual arts, sound produces effects that persist long after it has stopped. The body, Nancy says, is itself like an echo chamber, responding to music by (...) inner vibrations as well as outer attentiveness. Since “the ear has no eyelid” (Quignard), sound cannot be blocked out or ignored: our whole being is involved in listening, just as it is involved in interpreting what it hears. -/- The mystery of music and of its effects on the listener is subtly examined. Nancy’s skill as a philosopher is to bring the reader companionably along with him as he examines these fresh and vital questions; by the end of the book the reader feels as if listening very carefully to a person talking quietly, close to the ear. (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)
"Les uns avec les autres" : ni les “uns”, ni les “autres” ne sont premiers, mais seulement l’“avec” par lequel il y a des “uns” et des “autres”. L’“avec” est une détermination fondamentale de l’“être”. L’existence est essentiellement co-existence. Non seulement co-existence de “nous” (les hommes), mais de tous les étants (il faut de tout faire un “monde”). Être-avec, ou s’exposer les uns aux autres, les uns par les autres : rien à voir avec une “société du spectacle”, mais rien (...) à voir non plus avec une inexposable “authenticité". -/- Nous ? mais c'est nous-mêmes que nous attendons sans savoir si nous nous reconnaîtrons. (shrink)
« On ne cesse de répéter que notre époque manque de sens, et qu’elle est en quête de sens. Ce livre essaie de dire que ce diagnostic n’est peut-être pas le bon. Nous avons perdu, en effet, le “sens” que les religions et les philosophies proposaient comme une “vision du monde”, avec ses valeurs et ses buts. Cette époque est révolue. Cela veut dire qu’il nous reste à découvrir comment le monde lui-même, en tant que l’espace de nos existences, et (...) selon la dimension mondiale qui devient la sienne, est le sens. Mais on ne peut le reconnaître comme tel qu’à la condition de reconnaître aussi qu’il n’y a pas à s’approprier ce sens comme une signification. Le sens de l’existence, c’est précisément qu’elle ne puisse pas maîtriser son sens. Ce qui, après tout, a peut-être toujours été le savoir fondamental de toute philosophie. ». (shrink)
If our politics is no longer simply and strictly that of sovereign states, then it is no longer ‘politics’ as we have known it for a very long time. Where then to put ‘politics’ if its place is no longer identifiable? This is one way to put the question that comes to me after and according to Derrida. An uncertain and erratic question, because the ‘where’ of that question remains obscure to me: where indeed are the possible ‘places’? Without a (...) doubt it is necessary to rework the entire topography. But still, it is all the same a question of ‘place’: we need the right place for politics, a place that is neither ‘all’ nor ‘nothing’. (shrink)
« “Je pense comme une fille enlève sa robe.” (Bataille.) La pensée est une mise à nu et la nudité est inachevable : elle n’est pas un état, elle est un mouvement incessant pour se porter à l’extrémité à laquelle n’atteint que ce qui se dérobe encore en atteignant l’extrémité. Mais le dénudement touche aussi au dénuement : aujourd’hui, la pensée doit répondre d’une détresse du monde et d’un souci de l’histoire qui défient toutes nos philosophies, nos religions, nos représentations. (...) Comment penser, comment recommencer à penser dans la nudité : à partir de rien de donné, en vue de rien de capitalisable ? Pas de “salut”, pas de “fin”, mais à chaque instant, au contraire, une ouverture singulière du sens d’être sans fin. Cela définit d’abord la pensée – le dénudement – comme une conduite, une tenue et une allure : un ethos autant qu’une techné. ». (shrink)
The Theory of Literature in German Romanticism Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean-Luc Nancy. Preface: The. Literary. Absolute. I. "There are classifications that are bad enough as classifications, but that have nonetheless dominated entire ...
What interests us and claims our attention in Nazism is, essentially, its ideology, in the definition Hannah Arendt has given of this term in her book on The Origins of Totalitarianism. In this work, ideology is defined as the totally self-fulfilling logic of an idea, an idea “by which the movement of history is explained as one consistent process.” “The movement of history and the logical process of this notion,” Arendt continues, “are supposed to correspond to each other, so that (...) whatever happens, happens according to the logic of one ‘idea.’”2Ideology, in other words, interests us and claims our attention insofar as, on the one hand, it always proposes itself as a political explanation of the world, that is, as an explanation of history on the basis of a single concept—the concept of race, for example, or the concept of class—and insofar as, on the other hand, this ideological explanation or conception of the world seeks to be a total explanation or conception. This totality signifies that the explanation is indisputable, leaving neither gaps nor remainders—unlike philosophical thought, from which ideology shamelessly draws the greater part of its resources but which is characterized by a risky, problematic style, what Arendt calls the “insecurity” of philosophical questioning . 2. Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism , p. 469; hereafter abbreviated OT. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy teach at the University of Human Sciences of Strasbourg, France, and are also visiting professors at the University of California, Berkeley. They are coauthors of The Literary Absolute and, related to the topic of politics, “The Jewish People Don’t Dream” . Lacoue-Labarthe is also the author of Typography and La Fiction du politique . Nancy has written “Sharing Voices” in Transforming Hermeneutics and La Communauté désoeuvrée . Brian Holmes is a doctoral candidate in romance languages and literatures at the University of California, Berkeley, and editor of the journal Qui Parle. He is currently at work on the parody of authorial identity in Cervantes and Flaubert. (shrink)
This collection of essays presents, for the first time in English, some of the key essays on the political by Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy. Including several unpublished essays, _Retreating the Political_ offers some highly original perspectives on the relationship between philosophy and the political. Through contemporary readings of the political in Freud, Heidegger and Marx, the authors ask if we can talk of an _a priori_ link between the philosophical and the political; they investigate the significance of the 'figure' (...) - the human being as political subject - in the history of metaphysics; and they inquire how we can 're-treat' the political today in the face of those who argue that philosophy is at an 'end'. (shrink)
Written in a direct and accessible, almost manifesto-like style, The Truth of Democracy presents a forceful plea that we rethink democracy not as one political regime or form among others but as that which opens up the very experience of ...
Noli me tangere - Ne me touche pas : c'est une scène singulière de l'évangile de Jean, et c'est une parole emblématique pour des situations de violence ou de désir. C'est aussi, et d'abord, le rappel lapidaire d'un tabou majeur de toutes les cultures : celui du toucher. Or Marie-Madeleine, à qui cette parole est adressée par Jésus, a connu dans l'hagiographie un destin bien particulier : amante tantôt physique et tantôt mystique du Christ, double féminin et sensuel de l'incarnation (...) que son Seigneur est censé représenter, pécheresse dont le repentir poursuit la volupté, son personnage est fait pour troubler aux deux sens du mot la légende religieuse. Comment donc interpréter la scène, et la " résurrection " qu'elle veut annoncer ? Comment les peintres l'ont-ils interprétée ? Que nous font-ils voir entre ces deux corps levés l'un vers l'autre, qui se frôlent et qui s'écartent ? (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)
"Is it meaningful to call oneself a democrat? And if so, how do you interpret the word?" -/- In responding to this question, eight iconoclastic thinkers prove the rich potential of democracy, along with its critical weaknesses, and reconceive the practice to accommodate new political and cultural realities. Giorgio Agamben traces the tense history of constitutions and their coexistence with various governments. Alain Badiou contrasts current democratic practice with democratic communism. Daniel Bensaid ponders the institutionalization of democracy, while Wendy Brown (...) discusses the democratization of society under neoliberalism. Jean-Luc Nancy measures the difference between democracy as a form of rule and as a human end, and Jacques Rancière highlights its egalitarian nature. Kristin Ross identifies hierarchical relationships within democratic practice, and Slavoj Zizek complicates the distinction between those who desire to own the state and those who wish to do without it. -/- Concentrating on the classical roots of democracy and its changing meaning over time and within different contexts, these essays uniquely defend what is left of the left-wing tradition after the fall of Soviet communism. They confront disincentives to active democratic participation that have caused voter turnout to decline in western countries, and they address electoral indifference by invoking and reviving the tradition of citizen involvement. Passionately written and theoretically rich, this collection speaks to all facets of modern political and democratic debate. (shrink)
A meditation on the changing role of philosophy in a postmodernist context, the two essays gathered here—The Forgetting of Philosophy and The Weight of a Thought—represent some of the themes that have recently occupied Nancy's thought.
« La liberté : ce singulier ne désigne pas ici une essence à laquelle rapporter toutes nos “libertés”. Il suspend au contraire toute détermination de ces “libertés”, qu’on sait bien “formelles”, sans pourtant vouloir le savoir… Il le fait au nom de l’expérience singulière de ce qui est sans essence : l’existence même. Cette expérience est un fait, lui aussi singulier, car il n’obéit pas à une logique du “fait” opposé à la “loi”. Ni fait, ni loi, mais l’être même (...) en tant que partage de l’existence. La pensée en provient, elle ne s’en empare pas. Quant elle s’ouvre à cette expérience, elle pense son possible hors d’elle-même, comme chose, force ou regard. La liberté est l’in-fini de la pensée. ». (shrink)
While friend/enemy are commonly perceived to be mutually constitutive opposites, it is not so evident that hatred is the opposite of love. Hatred is oriented by two ideologies specific to European thought—‘nature’ as an illusory universal, and the ‘ego’, distinct from the ‘I’, as an irreducible expression of identity. The origins of racial hatred in naturalised hierarchical classification at the time of European colonial expansion demonstrates how naturalism and egoism combined to produce an over-valuation of one’s own self or group (...) as authentic or pure. Drawing on Pascal, Fanon and Derrida, this essay challenges the autonomous, self-loving and naturalised sense of self. It calls for education as a form of action against racial hatred, including hate-speech. It suggests that the dignity or absoluteness of each individual or group should be thought as a ‘sense’ which cannot be reduced to a meaning. This is in contrast to hatred which presupposes closed or solidified meanings. (shrink)
« L’existence a-t-elle un sens quelconque ? – cette question aura besoin de quelques siècles pour seulement être entendue de façon complète et dans toute sa profondeur. » Nietzsche -/- « Parce que la philosophie s’adresse à l’homme dans sa totalité et dans ce qu’il a de plus élevé, il faut que la finitude s’indique dans la philosophie d’une manière tout à fait radicale. » Heidegger.
« Pourquoi y a-t-il plusieurs arts, et non pas un seul ? Cette question paraît trop simple : on pensera même qu’elle ne fait pas question. Et cependant, pour peu qu’on se dérobe à une idée romantique de l’Art majuscule, elle est de nature à déplacer toute notre manière de considérer ce qu’on appelle les arts, et avec eux d’une part les sens (et le sens de “sens”), d’autre part la technique (dont l’“art” n’est jamais que la traduction). Avec les (...) arts, c’est le sens du monde qui se trouve, à nouveau, remis en jeu. ». (shrink)