Category Archives: Nancy

Sense or whatever

It’s great to see Peter Gratton over at Philosophy in a Time of Error bring up and defend Jean-Luc Nancy’s Sense of the World. When I first read this book a few years ago I was pretty blown away by it (despite the fact that, as Gratton concedes, a lot of it is not so clear). Since the English translation of it has been out of print for a while, I had actually been looking for an affordable copy of it off and on until about four months ago, when I finally did get my hands on one. So, I hope in the not-too-distant future to be able to spend some real time going back into it. I haven’t worked much recently with Nancy outside of his later “Deconstruction of Christianity” project. Just between Sense of the World and Being Singular Plural (not to mention much else), I think there’s a lot of stuff there that’s valuable both for deconstruction and OOO – as well as drawing out some common ground between the two.

The possibility of OOO/deconstruction connections might not be a popular idea right now, but I’ve already mentioned that I think there’s more to a Derrida/Latour comparison than one might initially think. Nancy is definitely another figure through whom such a connection could be made. I can understand Graham Harman’s point that the idea of “whatever being” as an unarticulated ontological surplus of sense beyond signification is difficult to accept especially along with an insistence on the fundamental ontological role that relation plays, but ultimately I don’t think this difficulty make it impossible. In fact, I’m already inclined to disagree with Harman’s appraisal of this sort of approach (as found in the last chapter of Prince of Networks) in favor of one closer to Latour’s (and perhaps Nancy’s as well) that would affirm both that objects are simply their relations and that there is some unarticulated reserve outside of the de- and re-constructible network of significations.

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