Jean-Luc Nancy and the Future of Philosophy

Jean-Luc Nancy and the Future of Philosophy

B.C. Hutchens
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 191
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    Jean-Luc Nancy and the Future of Philosophy
    Book Description:

    Jean-Luc Nancy's The Experience of Freedom is a landmark work of contemporary continental philosophy and his writings on psychoanalysis, literature, theology, art, and culture have been widely influential. Jean-Luc Nancy and the Future of Philosophy is a sustained and critical examination of Nancy's ideas and their place within the general project of deconstructing Western philosophy. B.C. Hutchens offers a clear and succinct appraisal of Nancy's work. He explains the primary areas of the philosopher's thought and explores their relevance for contemporary issues such as nationalism, racism, media rights, and political practice. Nancy's work on freedom and morality, community and politics, and arts and the media is examined in greater detail. Hutchens also examines Nancy's indebtedness to Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Bataille and compares his ideas with those of his contemporaries, such as Levinas and Negri. Jean-Luc Nancy and the Future of Philosophy concludes with the author's recent and previously unpublished interview with Nancy about the future of philosophy. This book is an important addition to the literature on contemporary continental thought and political philosophy.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8262-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-23)

    Jean-Luc Nancy is a contemporary philosopher fixated by the parlous future of community and its spontaneous freedoms in a globalizing West. His core commitment is to an alternative view of community dissimilar to those normally offered today. In particular, he regards social relations as an insubstantial sharing in an “impalpable reticulation of contiguous and tangential contacts”, not as a substantial cluster of “individuals” determined by common social means and focused on common political ends that produce a controllable future. In addressing this possibility, he proposes a “community of being” (the irreducible plurality of singular “ones”) that replaces the intractably traditional...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Nancy’s influences
    (pp. 24-32)

    Occasionally it is insinuated that Nancy is a “French Nietzschean”, a “post-Heideggerian” or even a “Derridean”. This might imply that his achievement is nugatory, or at least derivative. Although only the least sensitive critic would dismiss it as mere commentary, it is understandable that some might regard it as an extrapolation from its sources. On this derogatory reading, Nancy is an occasionally impenitent philosophical exegete who selects influences and frames them with his own interrogative philosophical style.

    Nevertheless, Nancy cannot be regarded as a disciple of any other thinker. Many philosophers meander through Nancy’s texts (and are often present even...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Immanentism
    (pp. 33-62)

    Nancy’s dauntingly commodious exposition of “sense” is bound to his view of the multifarious nature of human experience. Offering a rousing critique of, on the one hand, any transcendental thinking that implies a source of sense “beyond” the world and, on the other, any immanential thinking that mimetically conceives of such a source within the world, he insists that all we can say of sense is that it is the worlditself,or, alternatively, is constitutive of the very structure of the world. It is singular, material by virtue of its corporeal reticulations and coextensive with both thinking and world....

  8. CHAPTER 4 Libertarianism
    (pp. 63-84)

    Nancy’s often poignant disquisition on freedom is perhaps the most robustly philosophical aspect of his expansive speculative vision. It strives to divest philosophy of recalcitrant notions of freedom that have been informed by ideological requirements. It offers two crucial arguments, each of which attempts to collapse the thinking of freedom into the open immanence of the circulation of sense.

    On the one hand, one cannot define freedom by theories such as those that originate in the presupposition of a “right” to freedom (libertarianism) or the rational intelligibility of the necessity of freedom (Kantianism). On the contrary, freedom can only be...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Post-secular theology
    (pp. 85-102)

    Nancy’s position concerning contemporary religion and post-secular theology is unequivocal. He attacks not only the resurgence of religion in the social and political discourse of the West, but also the post-secular effort to show that religion has never been vanquished by secularization and retains all its vital significance in Western culture (albeit somewhat discordant and fragmentary in nature). He categorically dismisses postsecular theology’s gesture of refusing secularization and awaiting the coming of a god as merely an activity of reflective immanence that closes us off from the undecidability of the future. Moreover, unremitting efforts to render divinity un-representable by fragmenting...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Communitarianism
    (pp. 103-124)

    Jean-Luc Nancy identifies a major anxiety definitive of modern identity in this (post-)fin de siècle:the dissolution of community at a time when it is thought to be formative of certain democratic institutions and, by extension, political resistance to the overweening State, a voracious capital and nefarious forms of globalization. He is clearly ambivalent about communitarianism, which is, roughly speaking, an effort to revitalize ideals of social and communal relationships against the onslaught of the kinds of ‘liberal’ notions of freedoms and rights addressed in Chapter 4. In other words, Nancy is critical ofbothcommunitarianism and its liberal targets:...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Social contractarianism
    (pp. 125-140)

    Nancy relentlessly interrogates our ability to address the question of the future of politics in terms of the prevailing paradigm(s) of the meaning and the value of “the political” as philosophers understand it. What Nancy seems to desire is a finite thinking of the condition of possibility of political discourse. He wants us to find a way to address the irreducibility of the political as a circulation of sense within the sharings of community. This necessitates that we query the incertitude and undecidability of the discourse of politics, which is to say that political criteria must be conceived as being...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Ecotechnics
    (pp. 141-155)

    With considerable sensitivity, Nancy addresses the contemporary question of the deleterious effects of the circulation of capital on the circulation of sense, and thereby, on open community itself. He insists that we are too hasty, too undiscerning, when we lament the demise of community in the face of capital’s relentless expansion. For example, Nancy concurs with Hardt and Negri in their view that the circulation of capital “manages hybrid identities, flexible hierarchies, and plural exchanges through modulating networks of control”.¹ Yet, he argues, although it is surely the case that capital does threaten to produce reflective immanence and substantial community,...

  13. CONCLUSION The future as openness to uncertainty
    (pp. 156-160)

    Each of these chapters’ subjects represents a perspective on a core commitment: Nancy’s critique of substantialist, transcendentalist and immanentist metaphysics.

    Against substantialism, Nancy argues persuasively that singular beings are not predetermined by reference to a general ground of Being. Rather, the Being of the singular being is bound to its own singularity, a groundless and uncertain state through which a multiplicity of meanings circulates whenever singular beings are “with” one another. Properly speaking, Being is in some sense the “between” of relations of singularity and not some antecedent condition in which singularities take a position and relate with one another....

  14. Interview: The future of philosophy
    (pp. 161-166)
  15. Glossary
    (pp. 167-168)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 169-172)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 173-176)
  18. Index
    (pp. 177-178)