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The Question of Sacrifice

Dennis King Keenan

Publication Year: 2005

In this concentrated and detailed look at questions surrounding the act of sacrifice, Dennis King Keenan discusses both the role and the meaning of sacrifice in our lives. Building on recent philosophical discussions on the gift and transcendence, Keenan covers new ground with this exploration of the religious, psychological, and ethical issues that sacrifice entails. According to Keenan, sacrifice is paradoxically called to sacrifice itself. But what does this necessary, yet impossible condition mean for living an ethical life? Along the way to an answer, Keenan considers the views of Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Bataille, Lacan, Levinas, Blanchot, Irigaray, Derrida, Kristeva, Nancy, and Zizek. This thoughtful and provocative work affords a sophisticated philosophical treatment of the question of sacrifice.

Published by: Indiana University Press

contents

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pp. vii-

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acknowledgments

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pp. ix-

This work was made possible, in part, by a sabbatical leave (academic year 1999– 2000) and summer research stipends (1996 and 1998) from Fairfield University. Portions of this work have appeared earlier in altered form in journals: a version of chapter 2 appeared as “Kristeva, Mimesis, and Sacrifice,” in Philosophy Today, David Pellauer, editor; a version of chapter 4 appeared as “Nietzsche and the ...

list of abbreviations

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pp. xi-xx

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The Sacrifice of Sacrifice: Waiting without Hope

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pp. 1-9

Sacrifice sacrifice. Ours is the moment in history that calls for this strange imperative. This moment in the genealogy of sacrifice is (in the words of Derrida) a dissident and inventive rupture with respect to tradition. It is a moment in history that calls for the sacrifice of sacrifice. It is a strange moment and a strange imperative. But this “work”—of sacrificing sacrifice, on sacrificing sacrifice—will ...

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1. A Genealogy of Theories of Sacrifice: A History of Economics, Sexism, and Christo-centric Evolutionism

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pp. 10-32

The history of the theories of sacrifice has been subtly (and not so subtly) influenced by economics, sexism, and Christo-centric evolutionism. Most theories of sacrifice are predicated on an economy of debts and credits in which one gets a return on one’s sacrificial investment. One particular economy of sacrifice—the Christian doctrine of sacrifice—has subtly worked its way into the very heart ...

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2. Kristeva: Mimesis and Sacrifice

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pp. 33-44

Sacrifice haunts the work of Kristeva. Drawing upon the work of Lacan and social anthropologists such as Robertson Smith, Hubert and Mauss, Evans- Pritchard, and Le

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3. Bataille: The Hegelian Dialectic, Death, and Sacrifice

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pp. 45-58

Nancy’s reading of Bataille in the previous chapter sets the stage for a more detailed reading of Bataille, whose reading of sacrifice is at risk of being misread if his anthropological, philosophical, sociological, theological, and economic readings of sacrifice are not read within the horizon of an obsessional sacrifice of sacrifice. Bataille’s obsession with sacrifice is a response to the question of ...

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4. Nietzsche:The Eternal Return of Sacrifice

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pp. 59-73

Sacrifice is to be overcome. What could be more obvious to a reader of the work of Nietzsche? And yet, is it that obvious? A careful reading of the work of Nietzsche will reveal that in the attempt to step beyond sacrifice, one becomes inextricably implicated in the move of nihilistic sacrifice. Sacrifice returns, eternally. In Beyond Good and Evil (1886), Nietzsche traces a genealogy of sacrifice— ...

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5. Levinas: On Resorting to the Ethical Language of Sacrifice

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pp. 74-88

The fact that sacrifice can only sacrifice itself over and over in an eternal return of the same, making it both necessary and useless, helps to correct a too-easy reading of Levinas. One frequently hears the following: Levinas is a Continental philosopher concerned with ethics. His ethics can be described by beginning with the subject, which he describes not as a free independent thinking thing, ...

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6. Irigaray: The Sacrifice of the Sacrifice of Woman

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pp. 89-104

Like the chapters that precede it, this chapter on Irigaray considers the necessity, yet uselessness, of the sacrifice of sacrifice, but specifically within the context of her concern with how sacrifice is relevant to women. The consideration of the work of Irigaray looks back to some of the themes considered in the chapter on Nietzsche (the risk of belief characteristic of sacrificing sacrifice) and the chapter ...

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7. Lacan/Žižek: The Repetition of the Sacrifice of the Sacrifice as an Ethical Act

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pp. 105-133

For Lacan (as well as Kristeva and Irigaray), the status of the human being as a “being of language” is defined by a primordial sacrifice. According to what Žižek calls the predominant reading of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, the emergence of the subject into the symbolic order involves “symbolic castration”; that is, it involves the loss of the Real, a primordial sacrifice of the Thing (das Ding), which ...

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8. Derrida: The Double Bind of Sacrifice

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pp. 134-159

Everything on sacrifice in the work of Derrida hinges on that aporetic moment of the double bind of sacrifice: the moment when the sacrifice of (economical) sacrifice turns into the sacrifice of (aneconomical) sacrifice, and vice versa. Here is the sacrifice of sacrifice. ...

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9. Hegel at the Chiasm of Derrida and Lacan/Žižek

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pp. 160-173

Despite protestations to the contrary (on the part of Žižek), I would argue that the work of Derrida and Lacan/Žižek forms an equivocal chiasm: an atemporal non-spatial momentary point of intersection. This point of intersection is the sacrifice of sacrifice: the sacrifice of sacrifice understood as both the sacrifice of (economical) sacrifice and the sacrifice of (aneconomical) sacrifice, neither ...

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10. The Sacrifice of the Eucharist

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pp. 174-188

Sacrifice sacrifice. Ours is the moment in history that calls for this strange imperative. This moment in the genealogy of sacrifice is (in the words of Derrida) a dissident and inventive rupture with respect to tradition. It is a moment in history that calls for the sacrifice of sacrifice. It is a strange moment and a strange ...

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 189-202

INDEX

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pp. 203-207


E-ISBN-13: 9780253110565
E-ISBN-10: 0253110564
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253345820

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Studies in Continental Thought