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Lyotard and Nancy on religion and difference

Lyotard and Nancy on religion and difference. METU, Ankara April 1, 2013. Introduction Nancy. Jean-Luc Nancy (1940) His heart: The Intruder (or. 2000) Friend of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe (1940-2007) – some of the works they wrote together:

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Lyotard and Nancy on religion and difference

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  1. Lyotard and Nancy on religion and difference METU, Ankara April 1, 2013

  2. Introduction Nancy Jean-Luc Nancy (1940) • His heart: The Intruder (or. 2000) Friend of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe (1940-2007) – some of the works they wrote together: • The Literary Absolute. The Theory of Literature in German Romanticism (1978/1988) • ‘The Nazi Myth’ (1991/1990) • Retreating the Political (1983/1997) Both speak in the film The Ister (2004) – the film follows the Danube, from the Black Sea to Germany, and connects Heidegger’s comments on Hölderlin’s poem ‘The Ister’ with the technological and political history of the area (including the falling apart of Yugoslavia) Nancy’s most important books: • The Inoperative Community (1986/1990) • A Finite Thinking (1990/2003) • The Sense of the World (1993/1997) • Being Singular Plural (1996/2000) • The Ground of the Image (2001, 2003/2005) • The Creation of the World, or Globalization (2002/2007)

  3. Dis-enclosure La Déclosion (Déconstruction du christianisme, 1), 2005 / Dis-Enclosure. The Deconstruction of Christianity, 2008 • After an ‘Opening’ 14 essays, all published separately between 1995 and 2005 • In 2010 part 2 was published: L’adoration. Déconstruction du christianisme II • Other related works: Visitation: of Christian Painting (2001/2005), Noli me tangere (2003/2008), In heaven and on earth (2004/2008, for children) Philosophy was determined by ‘the closure of metaphysics’, and this was enhanced by Christianity through the production of a supreme and arch-present Being (cf. Heidegger: ‘onto-theology’) But Christianity is the demand to open in this world an unconditional alterity, not the other world as a second world, but the other of the world We have to question the condition of possibility of the West: monotheism • Judaism, Christianity, Islam: the three ‘religions of the Book’, the threefold Abrahamic tradition: monotheism redefined three times – the plural singular that constitutes monotheism Christianity only actual if it contemplates the present possibility of its negation The modern world (rationalization, secularization) is not a deviation of Christianity, but the unfolding of Christianity

  4. ‘The Judeo-Christian (on Faith)’ • Quotes Lyotard: the hyphen in ‘Judeo-Christian’ is ‘the most impenetrable abyss that Western thought conceals’ and responds by analyzing a letter by James • No theology, between two theologies • Deconstruction as disassembling something composite – the general dis-position of the West: the coincidentiaoppositorum, its general law is to contain at its center a gap, the hyphen passes over a void that it does not fill • Faith = works, deeds (erga) – Nancy reads this as embedded in existence, in life => there is no closed work (organon), the work is open, disorganized, it transcends its concept, it cannot be appropriated by the subject, it opens up alterity, it is ‘being-unto-the-other’ • faith differs from belief: faith is not argumentative/true, but performative/making true; faith has no correlative object, it is an act in the intimacy of the subject, relating to something not present • God and human beings: a) likeness => a world not so much created by a creator but traced by alterity; b) Jesus Christ, not as a mediator, but as ‘anointed with glory’: appearing, the proper name of the inappropriable • Inadequation: ‘having, in the world, the experience of what is not of this world, without being another world for all that’, a ‘transcendence without a transcendent’, a ‘transcendence immanent to our immanence’

  5. The West and the One General features of the West: techno-science, democracy and law – its globalization • If restricted to a world market => inhumanity, so that the West can no longer proclaim humanism as its vision for the world • Globalization (on the basis) of monotheism, and on both sides a constitutive role of the ‘mono’: Sense ~ value; the sens unique of sense is monovalence, whether in God, man or value itself • Monotheism as monovalence is related to equivalence as the mechanism of capitalist production and exchange Post-Scriptum after ‘9-11’: The motive of the One (mono): but at least in monotheism this is not substantial, present, united with itself Christianity is less a doctrine (belief) than a subject in search for self, for its proper identity; the subject is the infinite relation to the self in the finite – the caesura with the ancient world (in which the finite and the infinite were two different worlds) Christianity is constituting the subject as opening itself – because deconstruction is only possible by means of this opening, deconstruction is itself Christian, and Christianity is deconstructive

  6. IntroductionLyotard Jean-François Lyotard (1924-1998): • Taught philosophy in Algeria 1950-52 • Member of a marxist group around the journal SocialismeouBarbarie (Castoriadis, Lefort) 1954-1964, PouvoirOuvrier 1964-1966 • From 1954 until 1966 only articles in SocialismeouBarbarie, mainly on the struggle for independence in Algeria, under the pseudonym François Laborde – no philosophical publications • In 1968 teacher at the University of Nanterre, where the French May 1968 revolt of students and workers began • Some fame as a philosopher of ‘post-modernity’ since 1979 Most important works – original publication in French / English translation • Phenomenology (1954/1991) • Discourse, figure (1971, dissertation/2011) • Libidinal Economy (1974/1993) • The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (1979/1984) • The Differend (1983/1988) • Enthusiasm. The Kantian Critique of History (1986/2009) • Heidegger and ‘the jews’ (1988/1990) • The inhuman. Reflections on Time (1988/1991)

  7. The Hyphen 1 • Judaism, ‘the jews’ (not a name for a nation, for politics or for a religion, not the real Jews) • Against the illusion of Western culture: presence, fulfillment, totality History: • Judaism: man has a relationship of estrangement with God • Christianity: man appropriates the presence of God, provided he is prepared to disappropriate himself into God • Modernity: man liberates himself from all dispossession and indebtedness to the other • For Nancy there is no history (after the replacement of polytheism by monotheism), the ground for a critique of Western culture is to be found within Western culture itself The revelation of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai • The aleph • The Voice leaves behind unvoiced letters, without vowels – the people take up the obligation to work on the letters: to vocalize them and find their meaning • The event of the obligation – history/chronological time starts when the Voice has withdrawn • Agreements between Lyotard and Nancy: a) God is withdrawal from presence, b) monotheism is a demythologization, c) the importance of works instead of doctrinal belief – Nancy: characteristic for ‘the Judeo-Christian’, Lyotard: characteristic for Judaism

  8. The Hyphen 2 Testing Abraham: the bond around the body of Isaac is not definitive = analogous to: the bond between signifier and signified is not definitive • the bond/the text has to be reread continuously => the endless work of interpretation • A type of meaning will always remain secret, inaccessible: estrangé – not alienated (dialectics Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx) Lyotard analyzes Paul: • Incarnation: the actual presence of God as a human being / transfiguration: this presence signified by bread and wine • The Jewish incompatibility between law and flesh is removed – Paul: each of you is part of the body of Christ, and the true circumcision is spiritual in nature • Paul: the Jew becomes truly realized in the Christian • Lyotard: the hyphen is not between but from the Jew to the Christian, the hyphen itself is Christian, it crosses out a blank space, an abyss that separates Judaism from Christianity, ‘the text of the Gospels (Christianity) is not of the same ontological regimen as that of the Pentateuch’ (Judaism) • There is the abyss between Judaism and Christianity because there is (more fundamentally) the abyss between the Voice and (the meaning of) its letters, between the law and the flesh, an abyss ignored by Christianity

  9. Some comparative remarks • Nancy’s quote from Lyotard: ‘the most impenetrable abyss that Western thought conceals’ • Nancy: there is no Other beyond an abyss – what Levinas understands as ‘otherwise than being’ is precisely what is most characteristic of ‘being’ • Nancy’s ontology: no separation of finiteness and infinity, Being and Other, ontology and ethics – for infinity is in the finite, the Other in Being, and only ontology can be ethical • How to think horizo: limiting? – limits do not divide into two, they are the place where things come to be; the singular is plural, one is more than one • Lyotard: Jewish listening must remain strained between the inaudible voice of the Other and the entire imaginary realm of the flesh, included in the pact as excluded • Lyotard on aisthèsis: the event of matter, before form; anesthesia ~ estranged aisthèsis; one is less than one • Lyotard’s estranged aisthèsis and Nancy’s inadequation of faith (work, praxis)

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