Russia’s Atopic Nothingness: Ungrounding the World-Historical Whole with Pyotr Chaadaev

Angelaki 24 (6):135-151 (2019)
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Russian philosopher Pyotr Chaadaev (1794–1856) declared Russia to be a non-place in both space and time, a singular nothingness without history, topos, or footing, without relation or attachment to the world-historical tradition culminating in Christian-European modernity. This paper recovers Chaadaev’s conception of nothingness as that which, unbound by tradition, constitutes a total, even revolutionary ungrounding of the world-whole. Working with and through Chaadaev’s key writings, we trace his articulation of immanent nothingness or the void of the Real as completely emptying out the mechanisms of history and tradition, thereby putting also into question the basic conceptual machinery of modernity. Chaadaev’s position appears, as a result, not only as a neglected genealogical element to contemporary critiques of modernity and its logic of reproduction through tradition and futurity but also as a contribution to the ongoing critical rethinking of this logic in contemporary theory.
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