Translated by Richard A. Rand
series editor John D. Caputo
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    How have we thought the body? How can we think it anew? The body of mortal creatures, the body politic, the body of letters and of laws, the mystical body of Christ-all these (and others) are incorporated in the word Corpus, the title and topic of Jean-Luc Nancy's masterwork.Corpus is a work of literary force at once phenomenological, sociological, theological, and philosophical in its multiple orientations and approaches. In thirty-six brief sections, Nancy offers us at once an encyclopedia and a polemical program-reviewing classical takes on the corpusfrom Plato, Aristotle, and Saint Paul to Descartes, Hegel, Husserl, and Freud, while demonstrating that the mutations (technological, biological, and political) of our own culture have given rise to the need for a new understanding of the body. He not only tells the story of this cultural change but also explores the promise and responsibilities that such a new understanding entails.The long-awaited English translation is a bold, bravura rendering. To the title essay are added five closely related recent pieces-including a commentary by Antonia Birnbaum-dedicated in large part to the legacy of the mind-body problemformulated by Descartes and the challenge it poses to rethinking the ancient problems of the corpus. The last and most poignant of these essays is The Intruder,Nancy's philosophical meditation on his heart transplant. The book also serves as the opening move in Nancy's larger project called The deconstruction of Christianity.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5865-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Translator’s Note
    (pp. ix-1)
  4. Corpus
    (pp. 2-121)

    Hoc est enim corpus meum: we come from a culture where this cult phrase will have been tirelessly uttered by millions of people officiating in millions of rites. Everyone in this culture, Christian or otherwise, (re)cognizes it. Among Christians, some value it as a real consecration—God’sbodyisthere—others, as a symbol—thanks to which those who form abodywith God can commune. For us, it’s also the most visible repetition of an obstinate or sublimated paganism: bread and wine, other bodies of other gods, mysteries of sensory certitude. In the realm of our sentences, it’s perhaps...

  5. On the Soul
    (pp. 122-135)

    Before starting, I’d like to say that, while I was on the way here yesterday, I was extremely troubled by the fact that I am taking part in a colloquium about the body just as the headlines ofLe Mondeare announcing the tortures and cruelties currently being committed in Bosnia. It’s just that, I don’t know how to put this, I’d like to give some thought to them before starting, to all those tortured, violated, wounded, humiliated bodies in Bosnia, at this very moment. And I’d add, for those bodies being denied their being as bodies.

    I decided not...

  6. The Extension of the Soul
    (pp. 136-144)

    Let’s begin by reading a long passage from the letter that Descartes wrote to Elizabeth on June 28, 1643, which undoubtedly constitutes his major text on the knowledge of the union of soul and body.

    Metaphysical thoughts that exercise the pure understanding make the notion of the soul familiar to us; and the study of mathematics, which exercises primarily the imagination in thinking about shapes and movements, gets us accustomed to forming very distinct notions of body. Finally, it is only by using our lived experience and ordinary interactions, and by abstaining both from meditation and from studying things that...

  7. To Exist Is to Exit the Point
    (pp. 145-149)

    Outside is the world, and we’re all outside. Jean-Luc Nancy’s thought worries about the outside. Worried, it doesn’t settle for, or settle on, any of the classical figures for the relation to exteriority that philosophy crosses, retrieves, and displaces. Outside: exteriority doesn’t derive from an alterity that would divide the self on the inside, even if such a division were primary and constitutive. Because it’s not a question of keeping one’s own negation inside but of thinking each self as some “one” existing with others: one of us all. Outside: exteriority isn’t the sublime or transgressive experience of the failure...

  8. Fifty-eight Indices on the Body
    (pp. 150-160)

    1. A body’s material. It’s dense. It’s impenetrable. Penetrate it, and you break it, puncture it, tear it.

    2. A body’s material. It’s off to one side. Distinct from other bodies. A body begins and ends against another body. The void is itself a subtle kind of body.

    3. A body isn’t empty. It’s full of other bodies, pieces, organs, parts, tissues, knee-caps, rings, tubes, levers, and bellows. It’s also full of itself: that’s all it is.

    4. A body’s long, large, high, and deep: all the while being bigger or smaller. A body’s extended. It touches other bodies on all sides. A body’s...

  9. The Intruder
    (pp. 161-170)

    The intruder introduces himself forcefully, by surprise or by ruse, not, in any case, by right or by being admitted beforehand. Something of the stranger has to intrude, or else he loses his strangeness. If he already has the right to enter and stay, if he is awaited and received, no part of him being unexpected or unwelcome, then he is not an intruder any more, but then neither is he any longer a stranger. To exclude all intrusiveness from the stranger’s coming is therefore neither logically acceptable nor ethically admissible.

    If, once he is there, he remains a stranger,...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 171-174)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 175-178)