Not More of the Same: Michel Serres’s Challenge to the Ethics of Alterity

Substance 63 (2):513-533 (2019)
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Abstract

Much French philosophy of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries has been marked by the positive valorization of alterity, an ethical position that has recently received a vigorous assault from Alain Badiou’s privilege of sameness. This article argues that Badiou shares a great deal in common with the philosophies of alterity from which he seeks to distance himself, and that Michel Serres’s little-known account of alterity offers a much more radical alternative to the ethics of difference. Drawing on both translated and as yet untranslated works, I argue that the Serresian ontology of inclination, along with his conceptual personae of the hermaphrodite and the parasite, informs ethical and political positions that offer a distinctive ethics and politics that present fresh insights about the relation between the singular and the universal, the contingency of market exchange, and the nature of violence.

Author's Profile

Christopher Watkin
Monash University

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