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Dialogue on the Philosophy to Come
[The following dialogue began as a result of prefaces Nancy and Esposito wrote for each other’s works: Nancy’s preface to the French edition of Communitas (“Conloquium,” translated in this volume) and Esposito’s preface to the Italian edition of The Experience of Freedom (L’esperienza della libertà).] Esposito The first question cannot be about anything else but the meaning and destiny of that activity which, regardless of everything else, we can and still must call “philosophy.” This is particularly the case when philosophy “ends,” in the sense of a “coming to an end” as well as what is always already “finished,” namely what is constitutively incapable of reasoning its own proper reason for being. The question then becomes what does a philosophy after philosophy mean, how is it to be thought, or, better, how is a philosophy of non-philosophy to be thought? On the one hand, it is a question which brings us to Heidegger and his interpretation of the “end of philosophy” as the very task of thought. On the other hand, the end of philosophy marks a radical distancing from Heidegger and from the inevitably dialectic modality in which even that thought of the end winds up being captured in the philosophy of what announces the end. Without being able here to linger over the reasons for such an internal folding in Heidegger’s discourse, the reason for the end of philosophy, I believe, needs to be laid at the doorstep of its most radical meaning: a “finished” philosophy is a philosophy that “lies outside” philosophy. From this perspective a phrase from George Canguilhem’s The Normal and the Pathological can provide us with a possible direction: “Philosophy is a reflection for which all unknown material is good, and we would gladly say, for which all good material must be unknown” (7). This means that every philosophical practice that is self-referential, endogamic, and selfcentered has been exhausted, which is to say that every philosophy that demands to take philosophy as its own object or that demands that its object be proper to philosophy rather than “common” is exhausted. It also means that this is the case in which such selfreflexive behavior is given and still continues to be given, be it in philosophy, historiography, metaphilosophy, or the philosophy of philosophy. Canguilhem, in speaking against these forms, wants to tell us that what lies within philosophy is precisely philosophy’s outside.
Rather. while what is probably needed today is to bring the end in line with a spatial semantics. the thought of the world in the subjective and objective senses of the expression. since history was at the center of the previous century’s attention. Although this would expose philosophy to the risk of circumscribing it within a fixed earth. With the reference to the earth and the continual movement of territorialization and deterritorialization to which our tradition of thought is assimilated. and proponents of industrial progress recognized themselves was for the most part the history of the conquest of space: the completion of the process of the colonialization. Heidegger. as you argue. Yet it is not enough merely to diagnose the succession and the substitution of a spatial model for a temporal one given that there are deeper and more complex reasons that account for putting forward the spatial schema (or that of spacing) in a horizon such as the present one. What we are dealing with here is really space. There can be no doubt that this century will be remembered for the suspicions it raised against history. The history in which Enlightenment thinkers. and it too centers on the constitutive relation of philosophy to non-philosophy: “The philosopher must become nonphilosopher so that nonphilosophy becomes the earth and people of philosophy” (109). it seems that Deleuze provides us with a further clue vis-à-vis the epochal meaning of the end of philosophy and perhaps an explanation as well of the profound reason for how the end of philosophy seems to outstrip Heidegger’s thought. it would also certainly open philosophy to the possibility of making itself. independence. This is how Deleuze puts it: “Thinking is neither a line drawn between subject and object nor a revolving of one around the other. territorial realignments in Europe. Romantics. this one from Deleuze. thinking takes place in the relationship of territory and earth” (85). and immigrations that were the effect of the two preceding phenomena—all accompanied by a growing technical mastery of maritime and terrestrial distances .” continues to treat philosophy in the dimension of time. this epoch of space is juxtaposed against the epoch of history that would have come earlier. and development of the Americas. For more than forty years now we have known that we are living in the epoch of space (Foucault was one of the first to tell us this in the 1960s). More often than not. when speaking of the “end. which then died out little by little in the second half of the twentieth century.72 the minnesota review All of which brings to mind another proposition. Nancy On the question of space that you raise. if you will allow me I would like to take up a theme that I already touched on in the preface I wrote for my friend Benoit Goetz on the architecture of thought.
of electric communications either underwater or above. the entire space of humanity and of nature imploded. expansion. In that epoch the streets. air. and our arms—there was a diminution of the knowledge of conquest. non-Euclidian dimensions. and the cities in which we live acquired their present configuration. force. compressed and concentrated in small particles or fibers. The surface of the planet no longer has any terrae incognitae. On the one hand there was the idea of a “vital space” that needed to be conquered in order to set up a “thousand year Reich” of a “superior race. Their spaces imploded. that in which we effectively live and that which extends in conjunction with our steps. better. It is perhaps no accident that the two terrible shocks of the last century— fascism and communism—were joined together by a sort of will to spatial power. once all of space became known—our space. both the fascist and communist empires ended either in smoke or in the mud. the cables. space has ceased to be an extendable volume in which one rises up or. in which the explorer himself widens the expansion. pistons). velocity). What some have referred to as “the end of history” corresponds to this complete occupation of space. and the dimensions of the infinitely large and the infinitely small for size. if anything. billions of bytes of energy and information conveyed in a space-time . Now completely conquered in every dimension (the four dimensions of Euclidian space-time. Yet. Therefore in some measure what we have lived was really the history of a progressive saturation of terrestrial space. in a certain sense. Expeditions to far-off territories have achieved their mission and now give way to a conquest of interplanetary and interstellar space that does not have the same rhythm or meaning. our gazes.” On the other hand we have the domination and exploitation of an immense territorial expanse that remained unsubjected to industrial conquest. This is because we are no longer dealing with uncovering the secrets of the earth but rather of coordinating the extension of transmissions in the confines of a reciprocal surveillance and the intimidations of economic and political powers [ potenze].Esposito / Nancy Dialogue 73 (steam. become intensive: forces conjoined. the railroads. powers [ potenze] condensed. Yet. It is as if the historical impetus was made possible by the fact that what was once called the “known world” could still grow. In different ways. maps no longer contain blank spaces: Timbuktu and Lhasa. and discovery that wound up coinciding with the self-knowledge of the West. and of the spaces of urban and interurban circulation. mass. The extension has ceased to be expansive and has now. the deserts and the North and South Pole—everything has already been explored.
is made one with them. to a point without dimensions. It is no longer a question of philosophy. in its beginnings philosophy was the effect of a novel experience of the world—new. eyes which until now had remained shut. it was Heidegger himself to whom we referred critically before. of being or a meaning. but also apparently historicizing space. of nearness and distance. folded in on itself. who also wrote that “only when space makes space and makes free a what of freedom. Stated differently. It no longer appears as a place of unfolding and traversing. of paths. I would like to raise a more general question about the relation between philosophy and politics. of passage. another spacing. and exciting. it is no longer a question of taking up a view or of sharpening our vision—the view [veduta] required by the history of art—of the world. and together they define their position. Yet from all of this extension space has emerged disoriented: space. Space. imposition. troubling. In some ways space is no longer properly dimensional: the earth is reduced to a point. better. which is anything but subtracted from real relations of force and power (and also of resistance and liberation). Rather it is a question of opening a space that was not visible initially. of directions and limits. or of sojourn.74 the minnesota review that is practically nothing [nullo]. space accords. And it is this reality of experience that we find today. has lost its own propensity to spaciousness and opening. today it means to open the eyes. It is the anguished knowledge of this refolding that in turn generates a thought of space—a thought that is at the same time anguish and a struggle against anguish. Especially in The Experience of Freedom. and exposition. It is ultimately a different perspective with which to examine the same . Without wanting to take up that theme directly. that is a point of departure for another history or. Esposito I agree that we cannot substitute the dimension of space for time—how could we—but that the dimension of space can be crossed with it. the possibility of lands. the possibilities of distance and size” (13). If in the past philosophy had the meaning of contemplating and gazing [fissare]. Furthermore. Perhaps it was never destroyed. you yourself have insisted on the connection between space and freedom—freedom as that form of sharing that unites by separating. spatializing time. not even philosophy’s own history inasmuch as it is precisely out of this history that philosophy needs to rebuild its experience. difficult. thanks to this. But let us say that today philosophy can no longer cover that experience over or have something else come before it. of opening a space for a view or a space of viewing that will no longer be a space in front of a gaze.
namely the need to take up distance from all forms of political philosophy based on the subjective primacy of one of the two terms with respect to the other. I believe that this is the reason both for the withdrawal of the political proposed by you as well as by Lacoue-Labarthe in France and for the perspective of the “impolitical” which was elaborated during much the same time in Italy. in this non-sense that is the sense of a world that has been given to the world alone. The city had its own divinities. between nihilism and community? My feeling is that one needs to excavate different levels of “nothing. but rather that in some way philosophy is the world if by world one understands the singular plural finiteness of an existence abandoned to the absence of sense. This seems obviously to be the case for philosophy but it is true as well for politics. it seems to me that this is the time to underline more forcefully than ever the affirmative side of the withdrawal of the “impolitical. the munus that links all of us in a reciprocal non-identity. Philosophy today needs to have the force to see itself in this flight from sense. but also in some way the end of politics. This common element precedes every other consideration that has signified the failure of every form of functional subordination: the imposition of a philosophy on the part of politics and the directing of politics on the part of a philosophy. Beware that this does not mean that philosophy has the “hermeneutic” role of interpreting the world. more precisely still. How do you see the relation between nihilism and politics and. Obviously. on the other hand nothing is what continually tends to annihilate the same sharing. but these were precisely its . What do you think? Nancy Politics and philosophy have an orginary feature in common: both are born from the disappearance of the gods. which afterwards is reduced to a simple predicate. Both developments made this point quite clearly. nor that it has the operative role of being realized in the world.Esposito / Nancy Dialogue 75 question of the end—of philosophy. such a judgment immediately raises the theme of nihilism and the problem of what nihilism means not only for philosophy but also for politics. in a necessary alteration. Yet now that this necessary work of deconstruction is done. How are philosophy and politics related in the space-time of their end? I would begin by considering that we are not concerned here with a simple relation (that is of a relation between different “things”) and that from the arising of the polis philosophy and politics intersect in a point of originary indistinction that precedes the constitution of the separate languages of the philosophical and the political.” and that is the objective superimposition of the question of philosophy onto that of the world.” On the one hand nothing is what we share.
the West) affirms presence as a Vorhandenheit (“objective presence”) of being [essente] against the backdrop of the eclipse of presence that could found this being (that would have founded it. the interval between the ones and the others or between being [essere] and being [essente]. in such a situation it cannot be enough to affirm the “null” of the relation.). sacred) presence that would have founded it. novel world. being Hegel or his opposite. or is not up to that which it should be. Politics affirms the co-presence of the members of a body politic against the background of the eclipse of sovereign and hierarchical (a term that contains the root hieros. the anguish and the withdrawal of every god. Or ears. etc. what dislocates and what at the same time binds anew.” the sense given to it by Nietzsche and then by Heidegger (a definition that as such is to be attributed of course to Derrida). We restore the pictures but not the sense. The gods of the city are no longer presences. these divinities take the place of others that were true. Therefore we need to excavate nothing [nulla] and by this I mean that we need to go deeper into the nihil of nihilism. But there is no need to restore the gods. that should have founded it. Metaphysics (philosophy. eyes that until now have not been opened. Eyes for seeing a sense that is no longer the sense that we understood (that we understood to affirm or reject it. what reconstitutes a link and a place.76 the minnesota review own divinities. to put it better. or. We are therefore always in mourning for the loss of a “true” or “originary” presence. or clouds. monotheism. then we also need to understand that the “presence” of metaphysics is the effect of a relation of loss with regard to an originary or divine presence. in the withdrawal of presence. who is still Hegel). They are also subordinated to the city. or phenomena but rather are metaphors of the city. or better how are we to take leave of nihilism? It is on this point that we need to open our eyes. that of being-together (the gods were custodians of the totality and the totality was assembled by their own gods). in order to glimpse what separates. that should have founded it. . trees. effective. As such. How are we to take leave from such a mourning. is something lost. and efficacious presences of animals. especially perhaps in the case in which the city is something that cannot be found. etc. springs. Certainly. If one can define “metaphysics” as a “metaphysics of presence. places. although they are perhaps the same that are opened in all epochs—in every new epoch and in every new day—to configure a new. Philosophy and politics are founded together in the field of an essential withdrawing: that of the gods.
In this way one would evade not only positive and negative political theology but also secularization. to look at it from another point of view. namely the paradigm that identifies. the paradigm that presupposes a subjectivity imperative to the relation among human beings according to the modalities typical of onto-theological tradition.Esposito / Nancy Dialogue 77 Esposito You also propose that there is a need to rethink the question of nihilism. Is this not secularization political theology turned inside out? Or. in the withdrawal of its mechanisms of sovereign totalization. an absolute technical neutralization— risks remaining captured by the same metaphysical fold that it intends to eliminate.” opposing it to a democracy that cannot be represented by a sovereign principle (93). Beyond all of the many possible interpretations of the passage. the mystical political body. This is a task that we have tried to take up together in the recent Nichilismo e politica [Nihilism and Politics]. which brings to mind Walter Benjamin’s enigmatic proposition that nihilism constitutes the method of world political action. Once again we have to think politics in the revocation of its founding presuppositions. Nancy Perhaps we need to stop thinking that “everything is political. as you underscored recently in another text? This is the reason why one cannot sacrifice the sacrificial paradigm without falling again into the dialectic of subjection [soggezione] and subjugation [assoggettamento]. The other choice would be to change the language itself in which all of this is offered. refigures. you are clearly alluding to the possibility of a politics that is no longer founded on the sacrificial model.” In political-theological discourse. here lies the problem and in a double sense: first because it is difficult to think any political form without figure and representation and that is ultimately without myth. whereby the sovereign assumption. a model that has marked world history for so long. Nevertheless. and represents the beingtogether in the form of the One or. In this regard it is remarkable that an “impolitical” thinker such as Maria Zambrano could speak of absolutism as the “sacrificial structure of society. is deconstruction not the mechanism of recharging that is internal to the same Christianism. When you make reference to the “eclipse” of sovereign and hierarchical presence as the transcendental foundation of the social body. and second because the simple inversion of political-theological into its opposite—that is. love. and glory are the . in other words. There would not be any kind of residue of substance and subjectivity superimposed over the definition of being together (though it would be better to say over experience). it is clear that Benjamin is alluding to the end of political theology.
Mondialisation—the general oiko-logicization of the polis —increasingly makes visible with a growing violence the non-naturality of the same process of mondialisation. Today. in the logic of a political metaphysics. and also. As I have written elsewhere. Politics is portrayed as totality and totalization.” or at least dominates those that set out a political global project that is either in favor or against the State. “consensual” or “revolutionary. .” etc. the setting for this social-democratic bricolage. can tend only towards the suppression of politics’ own separation. however. always remains the same. Today too this more or less declared axiom circulates. whether these be “on the right” or “on the left. over the long term. understood as a separate sphere from an institution or a knowledge (or an art) with its own specificity. One does find as well a weak version of politics.” We have never found ourselves immersed to such a degree in the sphere of a meta-physis. the indistinct representation of self-sufficiency and of this self-production dominates from top to bottom all representations of politics.” This because mondialisation cannot be reduced to mere capitalist globalization. with it. Against the backdrop of what we today call the “crisis” or the “eclipse” or the “paralysis” of politics. there really is not a difference between “everything is political” and “everything is economic. In that sense. Yet it is because of this self-sufficiency that day after day the present seems to be inconsistent.” “Everything is political” means affirming that there exists a self-sufficiency of “man. “everything is political” is the basic assumption from which one deduces that to be actualized politics itself.” It is true that it responds to the necessity to struggle against the presumed depoliticization of a globalization that is desired as exclusively technical and economic. which is for the most part respectable even when it is often the result of compromises. understood as the mere regulative act. Yet at the same time it is also true that mondialisation demands the deconstruction of the axiom according to which “everything is political.” This is how democracy and the market take turns in the process that we call “mondialisation.78 the minnesota review guiding principles of everything. the only authentic question to be posed is that of the self-sufficiency of man and of nature.” understood in turn as the producer of his own nature and. of all of nature. which is to say the correction of dis-equilibria and the reduction of tensions. more or less consciously. Everything is political as well in the apparent reversal of such a discourse (the diminishing of the political distinction—the State—that “touches every sphere of social existence” as Marx says). the non-naturality of the supposed “nature. This accounts for the natural totality that politics expresses or initially announces. in every discourse on the “left. everything is political. In that sense everything is not political.
Their reciprocal distinction and circumscription (which does not diminish in any way their relations of contiguity and co-penetration) always describes the occurrence of a configuration in which a certain presentation takes place.” “production. Above all. . in other words. as the place from which we need to keep open this incommensurability and to keep open in general the incommensurability of justice. you touch on the question which.” “ethics. Consequently. Among these different configurations (and again without excluding contacts and contagions among them) there is incommensurability.” “love.” “religion. The other places are those where the incommensurability is in some way formed and presented. of a “humanity. Incommensurability can call itself “art. more than any other. Contrary to what is affirmed by theological-political as well as economic-political discourse. which is to say the question of the community with all its risks but also with the potentialities contained therein.Esposito / Nancy Dialogue 79 But politics is redefined as the place for exercising power [ potere] with a view towards an incommensurable justice. Each one is divided in the double sense of the word. or we could risk saying that if “everything is political” (but with a different meaning from that of theology and/or political economy) then it is in the sense in which “everything” can no longer in any way be total or totalized. Esposito When you say that the idea of producing the proper communal essence has dominated and frequently continues to dominate representations of both the political left and right. In any event. or as the place of a claim for an in-finity of the being-human [essere-uomo] and being-in-the-world.” Space and spacing lie with politics but not with the figure. as well as of value.” “lineage. By definition.” or “exhilaration.” “exchange.” “thought.” “science.” “war.” “conduct. but not without a relation to what was put into play in the polis “before politics” if we may put it thusly. neither is it any longer the place of a putting-into-form or a putting-into-presence of incommensurability or of any other kind of unity of origin and end nor. joins our respective itineraries.” and it can have an infinite number of other names. even if afterwards such a presentation gives form to an “impresentation” or to a withdrawal of presence. It is here that politics once again appears. politics is no longer the place of the assumption of a uni-totality. politics does not reabsorb in itself all other places of existence. non-political spheres are not those of the “private” juxtaposed against the “public”: each sphere is public and private. Politics becomes precisely a site of detotalization. if we are forced to use these terms.
It concerned a division between those who recognized the need for such a theme and those who condemned the weight of its past (both its Nazi past. not even once. Therefore.” This is why I found it a little strange. an essence. to the proximity of the interval and of proximity. as in all your others. as well as its Christian or Judeo-Christian . Nevertheless. Generally. from Ireland to the Balkans confers on the name of community the sound of death (“Conloquium” 103). Nancy You should ask Derrida the same question about his diffidence or hostility to the theme of community. but precisely for this reason he gives the impression of fearing a term that already opens to another sense—the proof of which will be found in your own writings. both LacoueLabarthe and Badiou also reject this word. to find Derrida expressing a certain diffidence with respect to the category of community (above all in The Politics of Friendship but also subterraneously in On Touching. clearly. in this same text. for which at the time I was rebuked in Germany. while Rancière and Agamben both use it. This is the reason that. Here you say cum referring to Descartes’ ego sum which you translate as ego cum—the same “I” cannot be thought except in relation to others.” It is true that Derrida attacks an idea of substantialist community that is not yours (nor. in which he does not cite. given the theoretical force and extraordinary semantic sensibility of your thought. To cite other examples. despite an account of the failure of all communisms and the danger of all communitarianisms. rather than referring to a body. But I’ll agree to sketch a response that will obviously be mine and not his.80 the minnesota review not only risks which are evoked by the tragic history of the century that we are leaving behind but also risks which are present and operative both defensively and aggressively in how a certain practice of community takes place in a large part of the world. The Inoperative Community) in favor of the category of friendship which is in some way more “subjective” or “intersubjective. In one of your texts you point out how the “intercommunitarian violence” that from Indonesia to the Congo. a clear division with regard to the term emerged immediately after I published the first version of The Inoperative Community. that which makes the escape from sense still our sense. the sense of “we. community refers precisely to this game of relation and distinction. First we need to remember that Derrida is not the only one to have raised objections about the term community. the community remains our question. One might even come to the point of posing our own unique questions. or a common subject. you repeat that this drift in meaning establishes the need to rethink the cum as that which and to which we above all respond. mine either).
the Gemeinschaft against the Gesellschaft. Can we separate the theme of community from its past? Certainly not completely. a property.” arriving at “being-with” or the pure and simple “with. you too are diffident with regard to “community.” and “separation. One could only add that “community” in our languages is even weightier and more substantialist than “immunity.” All of these small linguistic phenomena taken together indicate something and that is a poverty of words and thought for the principal question: the co-.” which are rather bare in France—were frequently to be rediscovered in circulation in public discourses. We are still concerned here with the same difficulty and the same poverty I mentioned above. Please note that one could just as well say the “subject. opens for the post-Lacanians the problem of “subjectivization” (that is.” a word that is often relegated to a “metaphysical” and/ or “subjectivist” lexicon. a subject (a suppositum.” “being-together. since with the definition of an “inoperative community” I wanted precisely to speak of a community that does not put into effect any community. while community comes to designate a being. etc. The communitarian and/or communal premise. but a word also claimed by Lacanians as the name of “he” who finally has a place only in the division from self and a word that. I should note in passing how all these words and expressions. perhaps with the exception of “being-with” and “with. .” And your semantic and etymological analysis of communitas and immunitas is of course spot on. an appropriation without an identitarian subject and a process rather than a substance). I would even dare to say that these are the refracted and diffuse effects of the dissolution or the dis-identification of “man”: neither the generic human [uomo]. nor for that matter humans [uomini] themselves make sense any longer or constitute a clear reference for this world that continues to call itself “humanistic” even in the most banal of discourses.” as one will see in Being Singular Plural. When you in your most recent works interpret the community in its classic and metaphysical sense as immunity. it was almost as if there was a need to master the terms in order to design a reality as obscure and ambiguous as that of “co-existence. in some way. Derrida. This is why I have continued to let the lexicon that I had been using slide from “being-in-common. at least in France. nor “a” human [uomo].Esposito / Nancy Dialogue 81 past. I completely understand these kinds of reservations and I share them. all of it contains the terrible germs that we know so well and that today can be used again for the flags of diverse ethnic and ethno-religious identities. having place. for example. in the scholastic sense).” which designates a quality. is much more guarded with respect to the “Jewish community”).
] a praxis and an ethos: the staging of co-appearance.” But is this definition sufficient— and of course it is a question I also ask myself—to be a response to the infinite pain.. how is political activity thinkable? Does it not wind up being reduced to a simple function of keeping the world as it is? What distinguishes this position from the Heideggerean one of abandonment to the destiny of being-as-is of being [essere-cosí dell’ente]? I know full well that one can respond that the originary ethics consists of a decision to allow space for existence in all its infinite fragments of sense and that therefore a desirable politics is one of constructing the conditions for such an “ontological ethics” or for such an “ethical ontology. despite the distance that separated them on other grounds (for example the relation between Judaism..] is [. We need to be ever on the lookout for every substantialist lapse of the idea and the practice of community. Christianism. the staging which is co-appearing. how can one respond to the question posed by ethics? You have tried to overcome this difficulty by evoking an originary ethics that is one with ontology. each time making our entrance anew” (71). We are always already there at each instant.. What meaning needs to be given to that “must” [il faut] if not that of an ethical demand and therefore a demand that is inevitably normative? In other words. and death that are checked and also . in the sense that I consider the ontological question the greater priority both in radically post-Heideggerean terms and with regard to ethics. Yet it seems to me that the problem does not disappear. which in turn is subtracted from the presupposition of Being and leads back to the singular plurality of existence. always as well a prescription of the ethical kind. as it appears here and there in your own texts. Nevertheless. It is as if his understandable reluctance with respect to Heidegger moved Derrida progressively to Levinas. For example. hunger.. in addition to being an epochal necessity. and Greek antiquity). even on the level of expression. you write in Being Singular Plural that “’the thought’ of ‘us’ [. This because it is undeniable that breaking with a politics of sacrifice is. This is not innovation—but the stage must be reinvented: we must reinvent it each time.82 the minnesota review Esposito On this score we agree. beginning with the coincidence without remains between world and sense and therefore with the refusal to postpone meaning to something that is not the present condition of existence itself. I am not hiding the problem: beginning with ontology. You know of course that personally I lean more towards the other side. But I believe that in Derrida’s rejection there is something else at work that has to do with what one could call in abbreviated fashion choosing ethics over ontology. war.
between politics and technology. provided that it is really clear that : 1. There is no ethics without morality! The “holding to” [tenuta] demands respect for justice and for all those “values” that are perfectly traditional. and therefore. as what is most proper lies in the improper. but which is tied to a radical practice of democracy. Let us try now to look at the other side of the question. The essence of man lies in his inessentiality. humanist ideology in its totality has always and categorically devalorized these values in the practical sense. we could even say that we need to fight against all exploitation. Nancy “Keeping the world as it is?” No certainly not. man himself. as you have emphasized. in the “common. wars. etc. ethnic myths and democratic indifference. dignity. Esposito We have spoken about the relation between ethics and politics. are not only missing a foundation. All discourses (including Habermas’ but also Arendt’s) that begin with the categorical juxtaposition between praxis and poiesis. From the very beginning an unbreakable link was noted—just read Plato in this regard—that joins technology to politics. If you want. poetry. justice. And sense means: that which makes it such that humans and the rest of being [essente] refer one to the other without making either subservient to a first or ultimate moment. The “holding to” is also the holding to of a language that is the match of the incommensurable. I would like almost to say that the ethos is morality with a holding to.” . but are also condemned to come up short with regard to our own time in which the complementary origineity of technology and politics is disclosed.. just as the great German philosophical anthropology explained it before Derrida. One resolves nothing by dividing the world between famine and indigestion. AIDs and organ transplants.Esposito / Nancy Dialogue 83 expanded by the present “sense of the world”? I am sure that on this point one needs to think something that still escapes us. informatic perversion and illiteracy. the human in the first instance (but also “nature” if we prefer to give it that name) are values that are beyond any possible valuation. a similar complementary origineity of techne and physis: technology is precisely the element that specifies human nature. but always at the same time through and in the name of a language that does not cede anything with regard to thought. and that is from the side of technology [tecnica]. They are absolutes the measure of which remains open and always to be invented. There is also. this much is clear. and 2. mysticism. song—whatever name you might wish to give them. I would add. seeing as how the world is such only when and to the degree to which the world is or makes sense.
We are dealing with a double subordination: first of the means to the end and then of the instrumental to the liberal (in the sense of “liberal arts”). the mondialisation of technology). Nancy Technology completely remains to be thought. If you prefer. On this score. one cannot think of reversing this subordination in some infantile way. The problem consists in knowing how to proceed with and within the technologization of the world (or. financial flows without a name. every return to the natural origin is impossible since. This means that we can face technology affirmatively only when we will be capable of thinking a politics outside of sovereignty but also outside politics’ obsessive auto-immunitarian duress. but the further branching out of energy. Nevertheless. This is precisely the paradox of a technology which. a knowledge whose objectives [ fini] are not defined. suspensions and losses. or entropy. or of love: not the satisfaction. which until now had been linked to such a category in favor of the economy or. or the “arts” (the name which encapsulates them. of a finality without goals [ fini]. can we define it that way? . A goal without a telos. Nevertheless. It is a technology as well. and it marks the end of the same category of sovereignty.” which is a suggestive formula but also very indeterminate. better still.84 the minnesota review Technology. in this instance. the origin does not exist per se. etc. But in this way at the same time technology destroys politics. naturally with all the risk implicit in every type of unlimitedness. But to think the instrument or to think the program—now that is something different. including falls and absences. being satiated. One could speak as well of a politics of pure finality. But perhaps it would be better to say a politics not of the cause (of the means and of the goal) but of the thing. and here one would need to develop a broader reflection on the meaning of art that you have already begun in Muses) exposes us to the finiteness without limit of existence. Technology breaks every control. and it is the same thing. techniques. as in mondialisation. and sovereign power. of eroticism. to ethics. Giorgio Agamben speaks of a politics of “pure means. to art.” or a goal that one could define as a non-fulfillment similar to that of art. to thought. always appears stronger than we are. command. We register beforehand the sense of the word technology within the semantic grid that prescribes its subordination to science. I am in agreement about the “finality without goals. there can be no doubt that every road back is blocked. and my program for writing does not contain a program for thought or for poetry. constructed for our mastery of it. as we have seen. Utensils remain utensils. This something different is not simply non-technology.
it seems to me that the principle of alteration or contamination evokes instead the semantics of “flesh” understood exactly as the opening of the body. cannot be overturned by having recourse to the magic of some theodicy. In addition—and this is something that Foucault saw with extraordinary clarity—never more than today has the body become the very object of knowledge-power—political. We need different categories. progressive). Such a “goal. which is to say that the body would always be the repressed and the rejected element of Western civilization.Esposito / Nancy Dialogue 85 Man [l’uomo] is the technology that nature produces as if to denaturalize him. and lacerated . My thesis is that this is not the result of the relation that you sketch between the body and community. a question which for some time now you have made the center of your work in a way that I find both original in its approach and problematic in its results. The body is the same place in which the immunitarian dispositif finds its supreme synthesis between bio-medical language and juridical language. of the enclosed. On this score I believe that we need to rediscover a subterranean line of discourse in our tradition— which today current French phenomenological research has taken up again—that sees in flesh the space opened. This thesis is tied to what seems to me to be a topos that goes unreflected upon in our culture (psycho-analytic. It seems to me that this is not really the way things stand. its “common” being. beginning with “technology.” that art instituted strangely by the same denaturalized existence. feminist. medical. of theory. This happens—despite the possible technical connections that the body resists thanks to its apparatus of self-defense (as you so intensely recount it in L’ intrus)—because the body is in its essence the very site of the proper. crossed.” as long as we define it by terms like monstrous or absurd. I am especially perplexed by your idea that the body is in some way “communitarian. another thought. the body’s expropriation. of the organic. uncovered. At the center of the imaginary. of that which we are less disposed to allow to be altered.” as if the community always has something to do with the body. etc. but must be understood differently. which is unified precisely by a metaphor. but rather between that of the body and immunity. Esposito The contiguity between nature and artifice as the arena for defining technology brings us to the decisive question of the body. Rather. juridical. that of the State-body that has lasted more than two thousand years and which in some way is still standing. mediatic. of Western practice. that the West has always hated the body (as you say in the opening of Corpus). or allowed to be infected by the other. there is nothing more than the body.
the thing extended that breaks off from the others and that can touch them. figural meaning. flesh. “body” is the distinct and the distinct-from-itself.” conversely. This explains the communitarian power [ potenza] of the figure of the incarnation with respect to that of the immunitarian. “body” means “in the presence of other bodies. Flesh refers to the outside as body does to the inside: it is the point and the margin in which the body is no longer body but is its reverse and its base sundered. Nancy Can one really argue that I am proposing a “communitarian body”? This seems foreign at least in part to my way of thinking. is not a word I use because it is too tied to the Judeo-Christian tradition and to Husserl and Merleau-Ponty’s use of it (will this perhaps be the weak trace of an affiliation?). body also designates a “mystical body” that is nothing other than the speculative truth of the organic body. bang into them. etcetera). possible meaning. a meaning to invent. as Merleau-Ponty had intuited. perhaps because I have not explained myself sufficiently. not accidentally. as Kant says. Above all. “body” designates the separated piece. It is a word of the . just as the body was always that of immunity. but that are also let loose. from the idea of a mystical assumption united to the image of the living that develops and grows by way of intussusception. For me. It is a word of the in-itself and not of the outside-itself. A concept distinct from another concept is a body. and immunity. It is clear that as long as “body” designates an organic body. of incorporation. and community. In the first instance. The body is the opening to the world and the opening to a world. The element that resists its own self-deconstruction because it touches most profoundly and originally the question of the common munus: we ourselves as the infinite “flesh of the world. But I wanted precisely to subtract the body from this schema. and that perhaps are joined to them. enclosed and compact. a body that measures its own proper weight of sense (certified meaning. graze them. I would say that the metaphor of incarnation is the element that explains the enduring vitality of Christianism at the end of Christian religion. so as to roll up alone in a corner. the “there” inasmuch as it is spacing. is typical of all fascisms): in the incarnation. “Flesh. avoid contact with them.86 the minnesota review by community. and of corporation (which. body. with terms like world.” Distinction of bodies: everything that is distinct is in this sense a body. to the degree of itself it is outside itself. Christ escapes from his properly divine nature to become other from himself.” I believe that the first task of a philosophy to come is above all that of replacing terms like earth.
1994. On the Normal and the Pathological. of Heidegger’s Man (or one [man] depending upon whether one considers him a substantive subject or an impersonal one) and this precisely because Heidegger has the “impropriety” [Uneigentlichkeit] of Dasein and Mitsein fall in the banal-common. it has to do with daily life and the daily possibility for each of us—for people [ gente]—to be in meaning [di essere nel senso]. As university professors. if we look closely. What Is Philosophy? Trans. All of which proves. this aristocratic contempt for the common. if politics and ethics (but aesthetics as well) have a meaning. are we really exempt from banality? Do we not perhaps like bread just like everyone else. Essere Singolare Plurale (Torino: Einaudi. Deleuze. that is. . When all is said and done. Dordrecht: Reidel. and Félix Guattari. “intellectuals” etc. of the enjoyment or the mortification of the self. 1978. that the terms and concepts that we are using reveal themselves as fragile and uncertain once we take up the reality of the “common” without discussing the “common” in the sense of “vulgar” (vulgus. Perhaps what is required is that each one of us go deeper into his reasons for advancing the discussion. Gilles. Published here for the first time in English with the kind permission of Einaudi. the circumscription of jurisdiction). Yet all of us know well enough this act of debasement and of suspicion. and in what is distinctive. all of us who are not part of the people [ popolo].Esposito / Nancy Dialogue 87 relation to self. we surely are not a part.. Works Cited Canguilhem. It is a word of depth while body is a weak word—of dance! All of this creates divergences among the words. vii-xxix. and I repeat it again. From here there emerges the entire problem of the one [si]. Originally appeared as “Dialogo sulla filosofia a venire” in Jean-Luc Nancy. and yet. Vulgar and banal are two words that merit a long discussion of their respective traditional uses and respective (de)valuations. 2001). while our respective thoughts have the tendency to converge around a common point. given that effectively we are not a part. in discord. and are not we passionate about a soccer match? Perhaps we have not looked enough at this aspect of things. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burcell. Georges. the crowd) and of “banal” (the ban. New York: Columbia UP. which is to say for all of us to take part in the exceptional. Translated by Timothy Campbell.
Trans. George Collins. Stanford: Stanford UP. The Politics of Friendship. Trans. Trans. 2000. ---. 1991. Roma-Bari: Laterza. Timothy Campbell. Gallen: Erker. 2000. ---. “Conloquium.Plastik . Martin. Richard A. Trans. Maria. Roberto. Communitas: The Origin and Destiny of Community. L’esperienza della libertà. Stanford: Stanford UP. Being Singular Plural. Stanford: Stanford UP. Persona e democrazia. Stanford: Stanford UP. 2006. Nichilismo e politica. Heidegger. ---. By Jean Luc Nancy. and Vincenzo Vitello. Trans. 1994.s. Trans. Peter Connor. Carlo Galli. ---. Paris: Galilée. L’ intrus. Robert D. Turin: Einaudi. Trans. 2008.Raum. 2000. Goetz.88 the minnesota review Derrida. La dislocation: Architecture et experience. Esposito. St. Richardson and Anne E. 2009. The Experience of Freedom. Esposito. Nancy. 2000. Lisa Garbus. ---. 1996� . Rand. ---.” the minnesota review n. On Touching: Jean-Luc Nancy. Corpus. ---. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. 75 (Fall 2010): 101-108. Milan: Mondadori. London: Verso. Strasbourg. Trans. Benoit. Christine Irizarry. et al. 1996. 2000. Preface by Jean-Luc Nancy. Diss. Bridget McDonald. New York: Fordham UP. Zambrano. Roberto. 2005. The Inoperative Community. Jacques. Jean-Luc. Davide Tarizzo. O’Byrne. Introduction. Bermerkungen zu Kunst . .
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