- Without World
To Fiorella Zecchetto
As long as world is understood as the total horizon of our experience, it will presumably not be thought and considered as such. A “total horizon”—however total, unconditional, and unintentional it be—is constituted with relation to the position of a finite self and takes its full sense only with respect to such a position—consciousness, transcendental ego, embodied mind, living corporality, existing ipseity, and so forth. The world is thereby not considered in itself and by itself but as a limiting or delimiting correlate for the localized self. In itself and by itself, world, provided such a thing is not a mere illusion, must rather be thought of as preceding all horizon, finitude, selfhood—as preceding worldliness itself if by “world” we mean the total horizon of our experience. “No world worthy of its name,” we read in Rodolphe Gasché’s upcoming book, Europe, or the Infinite Task, “comes into being within a horizon” (2009, 345). World is world when it is “a world without a delimiting horizon” (353), when it is a world without world. [End Page 119] World as such, or world without world, discloses itself insofar as it becomes free or as it releases itself from the horizonality performed and opened by the self. Only thus may one understand why it is that the world is an unthematized and unintentional object for consciousness, a totality that never can be objectified by thinking. World has not even the status of an “idea” or of a “regulative totality”: the worldling of world, while releasing from selfhood, is the very movement of detotalizing totality and disclosing horizons, infinitely and unlimitedly.
Somehow, then, the world begins to be properly lived or experienced when it is lived as nobody’s world. In other words, when it is not “lived” at all, and as we shall see, when it discloses itself along with the lost of any possible lived or experienced world. The world is necessarily other with respect to the lived world (and to the life-world), and other even with respect to the “other world” in the sense of the world lived by the other (the foreign world, which still is conceived as the total horizon of the other’s experience). The world as such cannot be described but as the event that interrupts worldliness in general, proper as much as foreign (“my” or “our” world as much as “your,” “his,” or “their” world). The world occurs when an “absolute other,” so exotic and so radically other that it comes as if from no possible world, shows itself as being out-of-the-world. To put it more simply, the world purely and simply comes, absolutely, from beyond any conceivable horizon of possible experience. A world worthy of the name is a world continuously and essentially suspending, bursting open the world in which existing or living beings dwell and move.
How shall we understand this paradoxical determination of world as being authentically world in worldlessness? What does “world without world” mean, and more specifically, how shall we understand the conceptual operation performed by the preposition “without” in such a formulation? How does the pure coming of world (that is, the world without horizon and without world) show itself, if, as “event,” it comes from beyond any condition for possible experience? Does this coming even show itself? Shall we rather describe the disclosure of world as something radically different to showing and appearing, or as something that shows itself insofar as it appears as inaccessible to experience? What figures of inaccessibility are we allowed to [End Page 120] invoke to describe the event of world? These are the questions this paper aims to answer. They are all, in different degrees and proportions, engaged in a discussion with major issues concerning the concept of world as worked out in Rodolphe Gasché’s Europe, or the Infinite Task.
1. World as Structure of the Self
Before exploring the conditions for this paradoxical “world without world,” we need to explain what exactly is the “world” that is lost in the experience of the “without”—that is, what is the meaning of the “world” in...