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Sunday of the Negative, The

Reading Bataille Reading Hegel

Christopher M. Gemerchak

Publication Year: 2003

Although often considered an esoteric figure occupying the dark fringes of twentieth-century thought, Georges Bataille was a pivotal precursor to a generation of poststructuralist and postmodern thinkers—including Baudrillard, Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, and Lyotard. The Sunday of the Negative provides the most extensive English-language investigation of Bataille’s critical treatment of the thought of Hegel, focusing on the notions of subjectivity, desire, self-consciousness, knowledge, and the experience of the divine. The book spans all of Bataille’s writings, patiently navigating even the most obscure texts. The author explains how Bataille’s notion of self-consciousness both derives from, and is an alternative to, that of Hegel. Disclosing the origins of Bataille’s most influential concepts, the book moves across philosophy proper to include reflections on anthropology, economics, cultural criticism, poetry, eroticism, mysticism, and religion.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Hegelian Studies (discontinued)

Title page, copyright page

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p. vii-vii

Generous assistance has been offered at every stage of this journey, and I would like to acknowledge my primary debt of gratitude to Rudi Visker, my sole reader. Willing to lay aside what then was his relative indifference to Bataille, his assiduous reading and incisive commentary not only enabled the refinement of the text...


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pp. viii-ix

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pp. 12-22

The text you are about to read constitutes a betrayal of sorts, one made all the more awkward because the betrayed had anticipated being handed over to an authority he did not recognize, being subjected to rules and a language he did not call his own.While necessarily missing the experience he is trying to communicate, due to the detachment...

Part one

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1. Beyond the Serious

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pp. 36-74

The account of Hegel's reception in the last century is a history unto itself: from being perceived as just another Romantic long since dismissed by the advance of the human sciences, to his resurrection by the revolution-inspired Marxists and their revival of interest in a dialectical world view; from his elevation in the middle of the century as the father of all things modern, to a renewed attempt to bury him under...

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2. The End of Utility

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pp. 75-114

As is often the case, the estimation of a writer tends to concentrate on a few choice aspects which consensus has deemed to be the essential, and which subsequently serve as grounds either for praise or dismissal. And while the prevailing impression may be viable, it is typically rather reductive. Admittedly, I cannot count myself among the flawless few who avoid all such argumentative expediency, for our analysis...

Part two

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3. Logomachy

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pp. 117-160

In the previous chapters we went to great lengths in an attempt to identify the elusive phenomenon Bataille calls sovereignty, which is certainly tied to the human...

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4. Mysticism, Eroticism, and the Sacrificial Ruse

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pp. 161-208

Human life resides in an impasse. It maintains itself in the midst of profoundly conflicting desires and contradictory impulses. In innumerable ways we try to escape our finitude, to deny our limits-we dream, gamble, read, desire other lovers-yet we are reluctant to release our hold on our individuality, our own particular future...

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pp. 209-222

We have come to our final point, the point with which-if we were to have followed Bataille's scheme-we should have started...laughter. Indeed, Bataille does not hesitate to propose laughter as the arche and telos...


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pp. 223-276


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pp. 277-286


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pp. 287-291

E-ISBN-13: 9780791487297
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791456316
Print-ISBN-10: 0791456315

Page Count: 301
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: SUNY series in Hegelian Studies (discontinued)

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Subject Headings

  • Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, -- 1770-1831 -- Influence.
  • Bataille, Georges, 1897-1962.
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