Politics of the Gift

Politics of the Gift: Exchanges in Poststructuralism

Gerald Moore
Series: Crosscurrents
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 240
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Politics of the Gift
    Book Description:

    Marcel Mauss' 'Essai sur le don' (1923–4) has become one of the central non-philosophical references of contemporary French philosophy. Deleuze (and Guattari) and Derrida, to cite only two, engage with the concept of the gift explicitly and repeatedly.Gerald Moore shows how the problematic of the gift drives and illuminates the last century of French philosophy. By tracing the creation of the gift as a concept, from its origins in philosophy and the social sciences, right up to the present, Moore shows its central importance for a poststructuralist understanding of the relation between philosophy and politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4607-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. viii-xiv)
  5. Series Editor’s Preface
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Christopher Watkin
  6. Introduction: Spectres of Mauss
    (pp. 1-31)

    Lars von Trier’s Dogville (2003) opens with the self-appointed philosopher-in-residence of a tiny mountain hamlet speculating over a solution to the moral shortcomings of his neighbours. Thomas Edison, Jr (Paul Bettany) hazards that what is needed to awaken the townsfolk of Dogville from their dogmatic slumbers is something new, something different, something suggestive of a future. ‘Something tangible, like a gift.’ The gift duly arrives in the form of a beautiful young runaway (Nicole Kidman), who stumbles accidentally upon the town after taking flight from an unspecified figure of authority. Appropriately, she is called Grace – a name connoting God’s...

  7. 1. Speech, Sacrifice and Shit: Three Orders of Giving in the Thought of Jacques Lacan
    (pp. 32-72)

    Between the publication of the Essai sur le don in 1923–4 and its author’s death in 1950, Georges Bataille and Claude Lévi-Strauss did more than most to reciprocate the gift of Mauss’s legacy. This reciprocation takes place through an extension of the Maussian critique of homo economicus; Lévi-Strauss and Bataille alike reject the notion of an ontologically grounded, transcendentally individuated human subjectivity. Simultaneously following and radicalising Mauss, both men regard this subject as nothing more than the product of exchange, but also criticise Mauss for an insufficiently ‘general’ understanding of exchange as a ‘total social fact’. Yet to some...

  8. 2. The Eternal Return of the Gift: Deleuze (and Derrida) contra Lacan
    (pp. 73-111)

    Eulogising in the immediate aftermath of his contemporary’s suicide in 1995, Jacques Derrida describes ‘the flustering, really flustering experience of a closeness or a nearly total affinity’ evoked by the work of Gilles Deleuze (Derrida 2001a: 192/235). Deleuze was, he continues:

    the one among all those of my ‘generation’ to whom I have always considered myself closest. I never felt the slightest ‘objection’ arising in me, not even a virtual one, against any of his works, even if I happened to grumble a bit about one or another of the propositions found in Anti-Oedipus […] or perhaps about the idea...

  9. 3. Repeating the Political: Heidegger and Nancy on Technics and the Event
    (pp. 112-151)

    The rise of the human sciences was one of the conditions for a distinctly philosophical thinking of a politics of the gift – one of the conditions for thinking politics both in its relation to anthropology and in its relation to an event in excess of the human. But it was not the only one; and the nascent field of anthropology was not the only academic discipline to engage with the problematic. The brief mentions of Husserl and Jean-Luc Marion in the introductory chapter noted how phenomenology too was also and still is immersed in a language of the gift,...

  10. 4. ‘Pour en finir avec …’: Democracy and Sacrifice
    (pp. 152-192)

    ‘The “and” conjoins but never innocently or romantically. So much at stake’ (Ansell-Pearson 1997b: 1). At stake, precisely, is nothing less than the future of philosophy and politics, an allegedly impossible future no longer bound by the strictures of a period, no longer subject to the categories and binary oppositions of modernity. In the introductory essay on ‘Rhizome’ in A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari assert the need to ‘establish a logic of the and’ in order to ‘overthrow ontology, do away with foundations, nullify endings and beginnings’ (TP, 25/36–7). The deployment of the rhizomatic ‘and … and …...

  11. Conclusion: Variations on a Theme from Nietzsche
    (pp. 193-200)

    Several attempts have been made to discern an underlying thread or unifying thematic of twentieth-century French philosophy. Apparently oblivious to the critique of homo economicus that recent philosophies of the event have entailed, Gary Gutting has located this thread in an overarching ‘concern with individual freedom as a concrete lived reality’ (Gutting 2001: 380), in relation to which ‘poststructuralism is an interlude rather than a decisive turning point in the history of French philosophy’ (2001: 389). Todd May rightly describes the convergence of thinkers around the problematic of difference, particularly in a critique of foundationalism, viewed as a privileging of...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 201-218)
  13. Index
    (pp. 219-224)