Crime as Limit of Culture

Human Studies A Journal for Philosophy and the Social 2014 (37): 529–544 (2014)
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In this article culture is understood as the ensemble of systems of classification, assessment, and interaction that establishes a basic community of values in a given social field. We will argue that this is made possible through the institution of fundamental prohibitions understood as mythical points of closure that set the last frontiers of that community by designating what crime is. Exploring these theses, we will see that criminal transgression may be thought of as the actualization of a rigorous otherness. This otherness, however, is nothing but the culture itself in its extreme vectors, its contradictions, and residues. From there we will differentiate three types of crimes: paroxysmal, archaic, and impossible. And we will conclude that the criminal question it is not a ‘social problem’ among others. Rather, it is a fundamental crossroad where the very constitution of any culture is at stake. It is the question of the beginning and end of the societal order and its subjects.

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Sergio Tonkonoff
Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA)


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