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Traditional logic dominates Western thinking by centering thinking on propositions and thereby restricting the meaning of "being" to its derivative, categorial meaning. In Heidegger’s view, it fails in this way to realize the promise of a philosophical logic, one that is capable of tracing traditional logic and thinking generally back to their foundation, i.e., the being/unconcealment of the logos from which they are derived. This chapter examines how, as a first step toward realizing that promise, Heidegger questions the supremacy of logic in Western thinking through a “critical deconstruction” of four theses underlying it: the thesis that judgment is the place of truth rather than vice versa, that the copula exhausts the meaning of "being," that nothingness originates from negation rather than vice versa, and that the predicative structure of propositions constitutes the essence of language. In conclusion, the chapter suggests that the construction ultimately accompanying Heidegger’s deconstruction is to be found, not in language as Dasein’s comportment, but in the revealing capacity of tautology to which he appeals in his final seminar (1973).
Since the Ogdoad, the Ennead, and the Source are described as beyond verbal description, how can written language convey anything at all about this ultimate experience of gnōsis? Discussion of oral transmission by means of logos, dissemination of written treatises, and the paradoxes of hermeneutics as understood in terms of Deconstruction (Derrida) and Hermeneutics (Gadamer).
In Egypt during the first centuries CE, men and women would meet discreetly in their homes, in temple sanctuaries, or insolitary places to learn a powerful practice of spiritual liberation. They thought of themselves as followers of Hermes Trismegistus, the legendary master of ancient wisdom. While many of their writings are lost, those that survived have been interpreted primarily as philosophical treatises about theological topics. Wouter J. Hanegraaff challenges this dominant narrative by demonstrating that Hermetic literature was concerned with experiential practices intended for healing the soul from mental delusion. The Way of Hermes involved radical alterations of consciousness in which practitioners claimed to perceive the true nature of reality behind the hallucinatory veil of appearances. Hanegraaff explores how practitioners went through a training regime that involved luminous visions, exorcism, spiritual rebirth, cosmic consciousness, and union with the divine beauty of universal goodness and truth to attain the salvational knowledge known as gnôsis.
Chapter 3 builds on the findings of Chapter 2, i.e. that populists’ rule may work as a driver of illiberal change in democracy and the economy. It identifies two variables by means of which the scenarios concerning the impact populists’ government may have on competition law system can be determined. The first variable is related to the dismantling of checks and balances as well as the rule of law, both of which are inherent to a liberal democracy. The second variable is related to the state-centered character of an economy and economic patriotism. These two variables give rise to four possible scenarios of populists’ government’s influence on a competition law system: the deconstruction scenario, marginalization scenario, atrophy scenario, and limited impact scenario.
Securitisation theory has too often been associated with the liberal state of exception and its problematic baggage. The Copenhagen School's early claims to deconstruct (not reproduce) the national security logic seem overlooked. Using the fantasy video game World of Warcraft as a large-scale thought experiment, this article asks how a distinct security mode is still possible when the normalisation of armed violence exceeds even what Carl Schmitt's political theory can provide for. Following a careful reading of Ole Wæver's formulation of the ‘existential threat’, securitisation asserts that without a certain referent object, the world becomes meaningless. As a tool for reshaping the limits of imagination, securitisation enacts political communities in World of Warcraft by turning upside down common wisdom about normalcy and security. While normal politics are violently conflictual, securitisation fills in the role of international norms and organisation, fostering supranational cooperation and erasing sovereign disputes. Securitisation thus far exceeds its contingent incarnation in the modern concept of security – a conclusion that has consequences for the normative debate on securitisation and for non-Western interpretations of the theory.
This chapter starts off by discussing the roots of historical anthropology in ‘people’s history’ before the linguistic turn. It then traces the journey from the history workshop movements of the 1960s and 1970s to historical anthropology, focusing on European and Indian groups (the Subaltern Studies Group). It highlights the work of Ann Laura Stoler as an example of how historical anthropology led to new and exciting perspectives in historical writing with deep implications for the deconstruction of historical identities. Historical anthropologists brought with them a concern for the everyday, diversity, performance and resistance and they raised an awareness of the undeterminedness of the past. They also emphasised how collective identities were rooted in constructions of culture. Relating cultural values to practices, diverse theories of the everday examined different structures of power and the agency of ordinary people in resisting and re-appropriating these structures of power. Treating culture as fluid, plural and changing, it also contributed to the de-essentialisation of human identities. Emphasising mimetic processes and the interrelationship of diverse mimetically produced images, historical anthropology also contributed to the decentring of Western perspectives.
This chapter begins by summarising the development of the history of ideas out of which conceptual history emerged. It discusses in detail the founding figure of conceptual history, Reinhart Koselleck, and compares his approach to that of the influential Cambridge school, in particular Quentin Skinner and J. G. A. Pocock, and their ‘contextualism’. The bulk of the chapter is then dedicated to a discussion of a range of examples of how conceptual histories have helped to deconstruct a rainge of collective identities, including class, religious, racial and gender identities. In all of these areas we have seen an intense interest in linking the history of conceps with the study of emotions, social practices and the problematisation of the national container for historical studies. In particular the move to a transnational history of concepts has contributed in a major way to de-essentialising collective national identities but also transnational, i.e. European ones. Furthermore, conceptual history has been emphasising the importance of studying the translation of concepts into different languages and cultural spheres.
The introduction lays out the book’s aim as providing an investigation into the emancipation of the ECHR from an international agreement with a relatively weak enforcement structure into a sophisticated legal system. The introduction argues that researching supranationality under the Convention offers a fresh descriptive-analytical perspective on the ECHR as well as a deconstruction of the ECtHR’s authority. Carrying forward legal-institutional scholarship and studies on the domestification of the ECHR, it also introduces the idea of reviving the notion of Convention community. Lastly, the introduction provides an overview of the book’s structure and presents the line of argument and the methodology adopted in the different chapters.
The grammatically analyzed mode in which language is presented in Dante’s written vision illustrates the proclivity of writing to shiver and splinter meaning. Writing tends to partition and fissure the presumed wholeness of sense as it occurs originally in oral communication and in the indivisible event of intuitive understanding. It is precisely the mechanical and material, the artificial and mediated aspects of language – particularly its grammatical composition out of differentiated and coordinated parts of speech – that become conspicuous in Dante’s inspired vision of the transcendent “speech” of Scripture. Astonishingly, this anatomization of writing is plied to mediate an authentically divine vision. Endless mediation of the whole by its parts, in Dante’s vision of language, provides a plausible image of the infinity and eternity of God. Yet Dante’s deconstructive vision of writing anatomized into its parts and even disintegrating into apparent chaos opens a vista driving beyond the visible altogether. If the vision of God is presented concretely in the infinite mediations of language that Dante places on display, the logic of writing (écriture) is to dis-identify the object of the vision with anything positively given. Only the differences created by representation open a perspective upon the unmediated and the unrepresentable. Realizing an apophatic logic of ineffability, Dante claims an immediate vision of divinity in what these mediations are not – in the Im-mediate. He gives us an immediate vision of the divine Word in Scripture but dissolves it, then, into infinite mediation, leaving us oriented to the source of synthesis of the endless mediations in which our existence consists.
Hermeneutics, critical theory, and deconstruction designate three intellectual orientations that have dominated debates in continental philosophy. All three exhibit the “linguistic turn.” The debate between Habermas and Gadamer brought Gadamer to prominence. Important for both is the Aristotelian distinction between the practical and the technical. Gadamer is more negatively critical of the Enlightenment than is Habermas. Both are concerned with the instrumentalization of reason in modernity. Yet Gadamer sees Habermas as too utopian. Habermas sees Gadamer as insensitive to the way dialogue is distorted by social forces and political power. This chapter concludes with a consideration of Gadamer in relation to Derrida and deconstruction. Both were profoundly influenced by Heidegger. Yet Gadamer emphasizes continuity, while Derrida emphasizes rupture and break. Gadamer shows us the achievement of understanding, while Derrida is preoccupied with the ways we misunderstand. Derrida and Gadamer serve as correctives of the other, just as Habermas and Gadamer serve as correctives of the other.
The chapter outlines four major currents in academic Ibsen criticism, all of which have their roots in how Ibsen’s plays were received as early as the 1860s. The modernist Ibsen stems from his well-known inscrutability, and reached its peak in the criticism of the mid-twentieth century. Critics focusing on the realist Ibsen typically highlight his power as a social critic, in the tradition of George Bernard Shaw’s The Quintessence of Ibsenism from 1890. The image of an idealist Ibsen emerges from the seemingly indefatigable existence of lofty ideals in his work, ideals that remain in sight whether or not they prove tragically unfulfilled. Finally, there is a romantic-demonic Ibsen, particularly analysed by G. Wilson Knight and Harold Bloom, which emphasizes the playwright’s tendency to first and foremost delight in his own aestheticized transgressions of ordinary morality.
Poststructuralism is one of the most important theoretical precursors of contemporary posthumanism. There is, for example, a close affinity between the poststructuralist topos of the “end of man” (Foucault, Derrida) and current posthumanist or postanthropocentric thinking about a time “after the human”. The “afterness” or belatedness that characterizes all post-isms creates a critical space for rethinking the human, or for thinking the human otherwise. In this sense, what poststructuralism reminds posthumanism of is the continued need for theorizing. The practice of (poststructuralist) theorizing thus survives in the work of many thinkers that have been instrumental in the development of a critical posthumanism (Haraway, Hayles, Braidotti, Butler, Agamben, Stiegler, Colebrook, Barad, Kirby, Esposito, Wolfe etc.). What poststructuralism brings to current thinking “after the human” is a critical instinct that understands the posthuman and the nonhuman as an otherness that continues to haunt any notion of human identity.
I enunciate the contrast between epistemological and ontological or metaphysical approaches to truth. I look at the way in which the ‘foundationalisms’ of these structures, whether in the domain of facts or conceptual suppositions, have since been deconstructed, while basic logical assumptions have been shown to conceal lurking paradoxes.
Chapter 1 introduces the notion of “living historiography,” a corollary to “living institutional history,” to describe the dynamic interaction between the writing of official state historiography in the Song dynasty and ongoing political developments. An examination of the theoretical operation of state historiography against the composition of the surviving sources reveals that conflicts between Confucian literati and the monarchy, and between factions within the bureaucracy, often thwarted and shaped the routine (and supposedly neutral) processing of official documents into official history. At the same time, a subgenre of exemplary historiography intended for imperial reading and reference selected preferred “precedents” (gushi) from his material as guides for future political action. Over time, these compilations grew into an exemplary history of the dynasty. This chapter, and the ensuing Chapter 8, generate an analytical framework that explains how this process led to the present, received narrative of Song history. Notions of metanarrative and allegorical interpretation, akin to ideas from postmodern deconstruction, help to examine the rhetorical and literary manipulation of these sources.
This chapter offers a trenchant criticism of the discipline of classical philology as practised today. At its heart is a consideration of the Cambridge series, ‘Roman Literature and its Contexts,’ and the shifting view of classical philology that the series promotes. Above all, the chapter shows how the hold of the godlike author on the imagination of classical philologists is as strong as ever. The authority of a single source for meaning continues in many quarters to be upheld; its relation to the theology of monotheism remains unacknowledged. This critique is illuminated with a performance of an alternative mode of reading: a pliant, tentative, open-ended interpretation of one historically contingent text by one fallible, human, historically contingent reader. Uncovering the entanglement of classical philology and theology dethrones simultaneously both the godlike author and the godlike scholar.
This chapter argues that my account of hope offers an alternative to indeterminacy and dogma. Commentators such as John Caputo and Jean-Luc Marion claim that deconstruction and negative theology are incompatible; as they observe, Dionysius affirms Christian commitment while Derrida does not. In my reading, however, deconstruction and negative theology affirm a hope that is identical in kind, though not in content. Although Derrida and Dionysius express different hopes, they both construe hope as a discipline that incorporates self-critique. Through hope, it is possible to affirm particular beliefs and practices while acknowledging that every commitment is radically uncertain.
This chapter argues that a negative political theology helps to address the problem posed by the persistence of the sacred. Giorgio Agamben argues that, whether it derives from religious worship or national identity, reverence for the sacred functions to neutralize resistance. My account of hope indicates on the contrary that a concern for transcendence can intensify critique. Rather than affirming the sacred uncritically or disavowing it altogether, communities can acknowledge the special significance of particular texts and traditions while maintaining an ethical discipline that loosens their authority. Some political movements find it difficult to combine critique of the status quo with concrete proposals, but hope offers a way to affirm particular policies while subjecting them to ongoing critique.
This book argues that hope is the indispensable precondition of religious practice and secular politics. Against dogmatic complacency and despairing resignation, David Newheiser argues that hope sustains commitments that remain vulnerable to disappointment. Since the discipline of hope is shared by believers and unbelievers alike, its persistence indicates that faith has a future in a secular age. Drawing on premodern theology and postmodern theory, Newheiser shows that atheism and Christianity have more in common than they often acknowledge. Writing in a clear and engaging style, he develops a new reading of deconstruction and negative theology, arguing that (despite their differences) they share a self-critical hope. By retrieving texts and traditions that are rarely read together, this book offers a major intervention in debates over the place of religion in public life.
This chapter argues that it is both impossible and unnecessary to exclude religion from secular politics. Martin Hägglund claims that deconstruction entails a radical atheism, but Derrida suggests that political commitments are formally indistinguishable from religious faith insofar as they are both directed toward the unforeseeable future. Much as Dionysius orients himself toward an unknowable God, Derrida affirms a justice that is radically elusive. Political theorists such as Mark Lilla argue that religion and politics should be strictly separated, but my account of hope indicates that they are inseparable. Where secularism and theocracy both promise an impossible clarity, atheism and Christian thought share an uncertain hope.