Abstract

This essay traces the motif of the "subject" across selected works in Jean-Luc Nancy's oeuvre. From the late 1970s to the 2010s, Nancy has pursued, from multiple points of view, the deconstruction of the metaphysics of the subject. In some important texts, this deconstruction has proceeded by way of an analysis of National Socialist ideology usefully construed as an ultimate form of subject metaphysics. I argue that these texts provide us with important insights not only into the philosophical structure of Nazi ideology but also into the political characteristics of metaphysical doctrines of the subject. (Along the way, I also indicate some limitations of Nancy's discussions of Nazi ideology, concerning certain Christian motifs and anti-Semitism in relation to representation and subjectivity.) And yet Nancy's thinking about the subject is not only negatively or destructively directed. It also involves the repeated attempt to articulate a notion of subjectivity marginally beyond the metaphysical, ideological inscription of the subject qua substantial, self-totalizing, and autonomous presence. In Nancy's work, the subject in a new sense--which I characterize as intermittent--appears as radically multiple, exterior to itself, temporally dispersed, relational, and linguistically involved. This essay pursues the intermittent conceptual development of such an intermittent subject from the earlier, more negatively inflected analyses of the fascist metaphysics of the subject around 1980 to the more constructively oriented thematizations of representation, listening, and faith in the writings from the 1990s into the twenty-first century.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6539
Print ISSN
0300-7162
Pages
pp. 36-58
Launched on MUSE
2015-03-02
Open Access
No
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