Abstract

Abstract:

How does tradition, a transmission of body and language, disclose a form of life? This article takes as its point of departure Talal Asad’s methodological pivot away from the modern concept of “belief” to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s concept of “form of life.” It elaborates the philosophical and anthropological implications of a rigorous notion of form of life through Asad’s concept of tradition and Martin Heidegger’s rereading of Aristotle’s physis. Interrupting this theoretical argument, a scene from the author’s ethnographic fieldwork with Orthodox Christian ascetics in Lebanon exemplifies the challenge (and insistence) of form of life. The article then turns to consider a powerful reading of form of life grounded in Baruch Spinoza’s theory of emanation and vitalist univocity. While echoing the concerns of this article, Spinoza’s philosophical ethic defers the central question posed by “form of life” by making the latter a world-producing apparatus. That approach to form of life foregrounds the possibility of being other than what one is, rather than the crucial question of “still experience” and its dynamic repose. The article concludes by reading this still experience alongside C. Nadia Seremetakis’s work in Greece, which details the work of stillness andmemory, the deathly pain of history, as sites where the cultivation of noncontemporaneous forms of life are brought into relief.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1938-8020
Print ISSN
1041-8385
Pages
pp. 19-49
Launched on MUSE
2021-07-02
Open Access
No
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