As its title indicates, this article shows animation to be the fundamental, essential, and properly descriptive concept to understandings of animate life. A critical and constructive path is taken toward an illumination of these threefold dimensions of animation. The article is critical in its attention to a central linguistic formulation in cognitive neuroscience, namely, enaction; it is constructive in setting forth an analysis of affectivity as exemplar of a staple of animate life, elucidating its biological and existential foundations in animation.
Though "dwelling" is more commonly associated with Heidegger's philosophy than with that of Merleau-Ponty, "being-at-home" is in fact integral to Merleau-Ponty's thinking. I consider the notion of home as it relates to Merleau-Ponty's more familiar notions of the "lived body" and the "level," and, in particular, I consider how the unique intertwining of activity and passivity that characterizes our being-at-home is essential to our nature as free beings. I argue that while being-at-home is essentially an experience of passivity-i.e., one that rests in the background of our experience and provides a support and structure for our life that goes largely unnoticed and that is significantly beyond our "conscious" control-being-at-home is also a way of being to which we attain. This analysis of home reveals important psychological insights into the nature of our freedom as well as into the nature of the development of our adult ways of coping and behaving.
This article seeks to demonstrate that in his recent reading of the role of religion in the postsecular public realm, Habermas overlooks a most fundamental dimension of religion: its power to symbolically institute communities. For his part, Gauchet starts from a vision of religion in which this fundamental dimension is central. In his evaluation of the role of religion in postsecular society, he therefore arrives at results which are very different from those of Habermas. However, I believe that Gauchet too underestimates the extent to which religion's power of symbolic community institution has remained intact within modern, postsecular society. In support of this position, I show how relatively heterogeneous phenomena within Western societies, such as the renewed importance of religion in the public realm, the revival of certain forms of nationalism and the associated demand for recognition of group rights and hence for forms of legal pluralism, may prefigure a new transformation of the public realm.
This article demonstrates that our more sophisticated theories of law lead us to a point where we are no longer able to distinguish law from culture, or society, or the market, or politics or anything of the sort. Not only are the various terms inextricably intertwined (something that other thinkers have observed) but we are no longer in a position to articulate any relations between these various terms at all. It is with this latter realization that the dedifferentiation problem kicks in. Because the various terms cannot be disentangled, we find ourselves in the odd position where there is nothing of any positive character to be said about their relations. Each is already the other and, thus, they can have no relation. This is rather bad news for the ways in which we have traditionally conceived theories of law—indeed any theory that gets off the ground by distinguishing law from a discrete something else (which, on first glance, would seem to include all legal theory).
In this paper I discuss the nature of the “I” (or “self”) and whether it is presupposed by the very existence of conscious experiences (as that which “has” them) or whether it is, instead, in some way constituted by them. I argue for the former view and try to show that the very nature of experience implies a non-constituted synchronic and diachronic transcendence of the experiencing “I” with regard to its experiences, an “I” which defies any objective characterization. Finally I suggest that the self, though irreducible to inter-experiential relations, is not a “separately existing entity”, but should be conceived of as a dimension, namely the dimension of first-personal manifestation of the experiences.
Giorgio Agamben and Alain Badiou have both recently made central use of set-theoretic results in their political and ontological projects. As I argue in the paper, one of the most important of these to both thinkers is the paradox of set membership discovered by Russell in 1901. Russell's paradox demonstrates the fundamentally paradoxical status of the totality of language itself, in its concrete occurrence or taking-place in the world. The paradoxical status of language is essential to Agamben's discussions of the "coming community," "whatever being," sovereignty, law and its force, and the possibility of a reconfiguration of political life, as well as to Badiou's notions of representation, political intervention, the nature of the subject, and the event. I document these implications of Russell's paradox in the texts of Agamben and Badiou and suggest that they point the way toward a reconfigured political life, grounded in a radical reflective experience of language.
The paper addresses Giorgio Agamben's affirmation of post-sovereign politics by analyzing his critical engagement with the Hobbesian problematic of the state of nature. Radicalizing Carl Schmitt's criticism of Hobbes, Agamben deconstructs the distinction between the state of nature and the civil order of the Commonwealth by demonstrating the 'inclusive exclusion' of the former within the latter in the manner of the state of exception, which functions as a negative foundation of any positive order. Since the state of nature is no longer cast as spatially external and temporally antecedent to the former, it cannot be escaped by the perfection of the legal order, nor can it itself be posited in an essentialist manner as a pre-political site uncontaminated by sovereign violence. While denying any way out of the state of exception, Agamben nonetheless argues for the possibility of its appropriation in the way that dissociates anomie from the locus of sovereignty and reclaims it as an attribute of free social praxis. The paper analyzes three central features of this 'post-sovereign' politics and concludes with a discussion of the differences between Schmitt and Agamben with regard to the fate of Hobbes's Leviathan in late modern politics.
In U.S. v. American Library Association (2003), the Supreme Court upheld the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which mandated that libraries receiving federal funding for public Internet access install content-filtering programs on computers which provide that access. These programs analyze incoming content, and block the receipt of objectionable material, in particular pornography. Thus, patrons at public libraries are protected from unintentionally (or intentionally) accessing objectionable material, and, in the case of minors, from accessing potentially damaging material. At least, that is the official story. In this paper, I develop three points. (1) I argue that CIPA and ALA are better read as examples of the enforcement of a regime of normative sexuality. The question of minors accessing pornography is only relevant to the official story insofar as it provides a rhetorically persuasive example of deviance from that normative regime. CIPAs full target includes information about topics such as homosexuality and contraception. (2) Rather than (or in addition to) punishing deviances directly, CIPA attempts to constitute a “public” in which such deviancy can never occur in the first place. Hence, the designation of a “public” space serves to domesticate alternative sexualities and to sanitize that space of sexual difference. (3) This interaction at the border of the public and private spheres offers an opportunity to reflect on and underscore the ways that subject formation and subjectivity are mediated through technological artifacts like the Internet.
In his criticisms of the German youth movement and the emergence of fascism across Europe during the early 1920s, Max Scheler draws a distinction between the different senses of political apathy that give rise to mass political movements. Recent studies of mass apathy have tended to treat all forms of apathy as the same and as a consequence reduced the diverse expressions of mass violence to the same, stripping mass movements of any critical function. I show in this paper that Scheler’s distinction provides the means by which to locate the various origins of mass violence and the practical means by which to address this violence that preserves the liberating potential of collective political movements.
In this essay, I argue that the contemporary notion of law has been reduced to regulations and disciplinary codes that do not and cannot give meaning to our emotional lives and moral sensibilities. As a result, we have increasing numbers of what I call “abysmal individuals” who suffer from a split between law—broadly conceived as that which gives form and structure to social life—and personal embodied sensations of pain and pleasure. My attempt to understand the place of Abu Ghraib within American culture leads to an analysis of our valorization of innocence and ignorance that not only becomes the grounds on which we morally (if not legally) excuse abusive behavior as “fun,” but also becomes part of the justification for condoning some forms of violence while condemning others. In addition, I argue that the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate violence trades on underlying assumptions about the relationship between culture and nature, technology and bodies, wherein bodies are imagined as natural and outside of the realm of law.
As a way of thinking through the bleakness of the political present through which we are all too precipitously moving, this essay attempts to demonstrate the interconnections between three concepts: politics, law and religion. By way of a detailed reading of Rousseau, I try to show how any conception of legitimate politics and law requires a conception of religion at its base and as its basis. In my view, this is highly problematic and in the conclusion an argument is presented for a politics of the supreme fiction, which attempts to show how poetry might take the place of religion.
In recent years there has been widespread interest in assimilating forgiveness into a rational conception of the moral life. This project usually construes forgiveness as a way of "moving past" evil and resuming the moral narrative it disrupted. But to develop a philosophical sound conception of forgiveness, we must recognize that moral evil is world-shattering and cannot be assimilated into the moral narrative of our lives. It is not an event that happens in one's world but to one's world. In this respect it is similar to death as Heidegger has described it. But, contrary to what Heidegger implies, evil is more traumatic than death because, unlike the latter, it shatters moral reasoning and moral narrative. Evil is a monstrosity; it traumatizes historical existence by impossibilizing the future. A philosophical account of forgiveness must therefore be traumatological: recognizing the traumatizing impact that evil has on historicity, it has provide us a heuristic that will help us to imagine the unimaginable possibility of transforming historical horror into good.
The return to religion in contemporary continental philosophy is characterized by a profound sense of intellectual humility. A significant influence within this discussion is Heidegger's anthropology of finitude in Being and Time and his later critiques of onto-theology. These critiques, however, were informed by Heidegger's earlier phenomenology of the lived experience of religious humility performed alongside his reading of Martin Luther's theology. This article shows that for Luther and Heidegger, religious humility is foremost an affection structured according to the enactment of one's dissimilitude from God and resulting existential tribulation. During a seminal period in his development, Heidegger's phenomenology of humility changed from an Eckhartian conception of detachment culminating in the unio mystica to a Lutheran conception of humiliation and Anfechtung. Heidegger's break from a mystical phenomenology of humility parallels Luther's own break from that tradition, and anticipates contemporary developments in the continental philosophy of religion.
In this paper I first aim to identify, from a perspective mindful of both analytic and Continental traditions, the central normative issues at stake in the various debates concerning commodification in law. Although there now exists a wealth of thoughtful literature in this area, I often find myself disoriented within the webs of moral criteria used to analyze the increasingly ubiquitous practice of converting legal goods into monetary values. I therefore attempt to distinguish and organize these often conflated conceptual distinctions across several registers of moral analysis. Second, I formulate what I consider the most illuminating questions regarding the criteria used to evaluate commodification in law. Critiques of commodification in law face what I call problems of ideology, intractability, and hyperbole, and identifying these issues helps to explain the momentum of the law and economics movement.
This paper provides an account of Kierkegaard's central criticism of the Danish Hegelians. Contrary to recent scholarship, it is argued that this criticism has a substantive theoretical basis and is not merely personal or ad hominem in nature. In particular, Kierkegaard is seen as criticizing the Hegelians for endorsing an unacceptable form of intellectual elitism, one that gives them pride of place in the realm of religion by dint of their philosophical knowledge. A problem arises, however, because this criticism threatens to apply to Kierkegaard himself. It is shown that Kierkegaard manages to escape this problem by virtue of the humorous aspect of his work.
In this paper I respond to the view that Heidegger is unable to account for the possibility of immediately experiencing others in their concrete particularity. Critics have argued that since Mitsein characterizes Dasein’s mode of being regardless of the presence or absence of others, Heidegger has essentially granted it the status of an a priori category. In doing so, they argue, Heidegger reduces the other to a mere interchangeable token whose uniqueness is subsumed under the generality of the established category. In contrast, I argue that the Heideggerian ‘a priori’ must be understood as a living responsiveness to particularity, not a top-down imposition of abstract categoriality. The argument further shows that this responsiveness must be understood in terms of temporal particularity. The bulk of the paper then demonstrates the nature of such responsiveness when it is the temporal particularity of the other Dasein that is being encountered. I show that such encounters are a necessary condition for the possibility of world time and the worldly space of shared significance. Because my encounter with the other Dasein is a direct experience of her originary temporality—the fundamental expression of her concrete care-defined way of being—such encounters are not simple subsumptions of the other to an a priori category. They are, rather, a temporal responsiveness to the unique mode of intuitive givenness characterizing other Dasein.
Two themes run through Kierkegaard’s authorship. The first defines existential requirements for “becoming human”—reflective honesty and earnest humor. The second demarcates the religious phenomena of sobriety when human becoming suffers insurmountable collisions. Living with existential pathos teaches the difference between the either/or logic of collisions and the both/and logic of development and transitions. There is a difference between self-transformation and a progressive individual and social development. In the developmental mode self experiences gradual progression or adaptive evolution; in the self-transformative mode self undergoes qualitative upsurges, leaps, gestalt switches, musical key transpositions of becoming in individual and social evolutions. Each individual in every epoch begins at the beginning. The author traces the movements of becoming in their parallel dimensions, drawing a fork through Kierkegaard’s writing. The first leads through the existence spheres of his pseudonymous authorship. The second intensifies the movement on the spot and in the moment.
The return to religion in contemporary continental philosophy is characterized by a profound sense of intellectual humility. A significant influence within this discussion is Heidegger’s anthropology of finitude in Being and Time and his later critiques of onto-theology. These critiques, however, were informed by Heidegger’s earlier phenomenology of the lived experience of religious humility performed alongside his reading of Martin Luther’s theology. This article shows that for Luther and Heidegger, religious humility is foremost an affection structured according to the enactment of one’s dissimilitude from God and resulting existential tribulation. During a seminal period in his development, Heidegger’s phenomenology of humility changed from an Eckhartian conception of detachment culminating in the unio mystica to a Lutheran conception of humiliation and Anfechtung. Heidegger’s break from a mystical phenomenology of humility parallels Luther’s own break from that tradition, and anticipates contemporary developments in the continental philosophy of religion.
This paper provides an account of Kierkegaard’s central criticism of the Danish Hegelians. Contrary to recent scholarship, it is argued that this criticism has a substantive theoretical basis and is not merely personal or ad hominem in nature. In particular, Kierkegaard is seen as criticizing the Hegelians for endorsing an unacceptable form of intellectual elitism, one that gives them pride of place in the realm of religion by dint of their philosophical knowledge. A problem arises, however, because this criticism threatens to apply to Kierkegaard himself. It is shown that Kierkegaard manages to escape this problem by virtue of the humorous aspect of his work.