Jean-Luc Nancy: A Negative Politics?

Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (1):89-109 (2006)
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Taking his critique of totalitarianizing conceptions of community as a starting point, this text examines Jean-Luc Nancy's work of an ‘ontology of plural singular being’ for its political implications. It argues that while at first this ontology seems to advocate a negative or an anti-politics only, it can also be read as a ‘theory of communicative praxis’ that suggests a certain ethos – in the form of a certain use of symbols (which is expressed only inaptly by the word ‘style’) that would render the ontological plurality of singulars perceptible and practically effective. Finally, some recent texts by Nancy even sidestep the ontology of being-with and face the question of what politics, faced with demands of justice, could be and what a democratic politics could provide. Both of these aspects in Nancy's work, however, still remain to be spelled out more politically.

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Andreas Wagner
Goethe University Frankfurt


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