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The Implications of Immanence

Toward a New Concept of Life

Leonard Lawlor

Publication Year: 2006

The Implications of Immanence develops a philosophy of life in opposition to the notion of bio-power,which reduces the human to the question of power over what Giorgio Agamben terms bare life,mere biological existence. Breaking with all biologism or vitalism, Lawlor attends to the dispersion of death at the heart of life, in the minuscule hiatusthat divides the living present, separating lived experience from the living body and, crucially for phenomenology, inserting a blind spot into a visual field.Lawlor charts here a post-phenomenological French philosophy. What lies beyond phenomenologyis life-ism,the positive working out of the effects of the minuscule hiatusin a thinking that takes place on a plane of immanence,whose implications cannot be predicted. Life-ism means thinking life and death together, thinking death as dispersed throughout life. In carefully argued and extensively documented chapters, Lawlor sets out the surpassing of phenomenology and the advent of life-ism in Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, and Foucault, with careful attention to the writings by Husserl and Heidegger to which these thinkers refer.A philosophy of life has direct implications for present-day political and medical issues. The book takes its point of departure from the current genocide in Darfur and provides conceptual tools for intervening in such issues as the AIDS epidemic and life-support for the infirm. Indeed, the investigations contained in The Implications of Immanence are designed to help us emerge once and for all out of the epoch of bio-power.Lawlor's novel way of treating the concept of life is stimulating, original, and necessary for the social well being of our time.-Fred Evans, Duquesne UniversityThe Implications of Immanence continues the most promising, rigorous, and fruitful ongoing research project among scholars of twentieth-century philosophy. . . .A wonderful new book.-John Protevi, Louisiana State University

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

I would like to thank my students and colleagues in the Philosophy Department at the University of Memphis. My thanks, in particular, to all the graduate students who have participated in three of my recent graduate seminars: ‘‘Foucault’s Early Thought up to Discipline...


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pp. xiii-xvi

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Introduction: Signs

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pp. 1-3

Since Marx has become a specter,1 the signs have become more distinct: we are able to see that we live in an epoch of bio-power.2 Biopower produces endless contradictions and paradoxes. A deadly epidemic is allowed to develop in one population—the AIDS epidemic...

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1. Verstellung (‘‘Misplacement’’): Completions of Immanence

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pp. 4-14

In Derrida, there is a double necessity between an indefinite series of opposites, such as presence and absence, genesis and structure, form and content, law and arbitrariness, thought and unthought, empirical and transcendental, origin and retreat, foundation and...

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2. With My Hand over My Heart, Looking You Right in the Eyes, I Promise Myself to You...: Reflections on Derrida's Interpretation of Husserl

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pp. 15-29

We should never forget that Foucault’s Words and Things is contemporaneous with Derrida’s Voice and Phenomenon. We should never overlook the similarity in the two titles, with their little ‘‘and.’’ What does this ‘‘and’’ mean? In chapter 9 of Words and Things, ‘‘Man and...

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3. ‘‘For the Creation Waits with Eager Longing for the Revelation’’: From the Deconstruction of Metaphysics to the Deconstruction of Christianity in Derrida

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pp. 30-44

Perhaps Derrida’s most enduring contribution to philosophy, to thinking in general, is the idea of a ‘‘deconstruction of the metaphysics of presence.’’ Unlike that of Heidegger—with which it nevertheless has so much in common—Derrida’s deconstruction does not aim

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4. Eschatology and Positivism: The Critique of Phenomenology in Derrida and Foucault

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pp. 45-56

In his early ‘‘What Is Metaphysics?’’ Heidegger claims that the question expressed in the title of his essay puts the questioner— us—in question. This ‘‘putting us in question’’ then moves toward what Heidegger terms the completion of the transformation of man...

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5. Un écart infime (Part I): Foucault's Critique of the Concept of Lived-Experience (Vécu)

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pp. 57-69

In 1984, at the end of his life, Foucault revised the introduction he had written in 1978 for the English translation of Georges Canguilhem’s The Normal and the Pathological. Foucault gave no title to the original introduction, but in 1984 he gave it the simple title ‘‘Life: Experience and Science.’’1 Here, Foucault tried to show that Canguilhem...

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6. Un écart infime (Part II): Merleau-Ponty's "Mixturism"

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pp. 70-86

Today, ‘‘immanence’’ and ‘‘transcendence’’ present a lot of problems. In 1959, Rudolf Boehm published an essay in which he claimed that these terms are already ambiguous in Husserl’s work as early as 1907.1 But perhaps we can impose some conceptual rigor on them...

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7. Noli me tangere: A Fragment on Vision in Merleau-Ponty

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pp. 87-90

It is obvious that, in The Birth of the Clinic, Foucault’s use of the phrase ‘‘visible and invisible’’ alludes to Merleau-Ponty. If someone knows anything about Merleau-Ponty, that person knows his description of the touching-touched relation. Yet it seems to me that...

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8. Un écart infime (Part III): The Blind Spot in Foucault

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pp. 91-106

All of Merleau-Ponty’s thought consists in a mixturism. The eye, vision, in Merleau-Ponty mixes together passivity and activity. Yet passivity, in Merleau-Ponty, seems to amount to a sort of blindness. Indeed, in two working notes to The Visible and the Invisible (from May...

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9. ‘‘This Is What We Must Not Do’’: The Question of Death in Merleau-Ponty

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pp. 107-121

What is a suicide bomber? In essence, the death of a suicide bomber is no different from any other suicide; the action is inconceivable without auto-affection. Indeed, as with all suicides, the auto-affection in which the suicide bomber engages is contradictory: he affects himself...

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10. Metaphysics and Powerlessness: An Introduction to the Concept of Life-ism

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pp. 122-142

Contemporary politics finds itself, as Foucault showed in his 1976 The History of Sexuality, Volume I, within a regime of bio-power.1 This regime, on the one hand, allows a deadly epidemic to develop in one population—I am thinking of the AIDS epidemic in Africa—while...

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Conclusion: The Followers

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pp. 143-146

Thanks to the signs, we see more distinctly—and distinctness does not necessarily exclude obscurity—that we live in an epoch of biopower. The will to the preservation and enhancement of life dominates in the West because the second world of ideas, the Platonic...


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pp. 147-194


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pp. 195-200

Perspectives in Continental Philosophy Series

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E-ISBN-13: 9780823247981
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823226535
Print-ISBN-10: 0823226530

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2006