What Is a World?: On Postcolonial Literature as World Literature
Pheng Cheah is Professor of Rhetoric and Chair of the Center for Southeast Asia Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Inhuman Conditions: On Cosmopolitanism and Human Rights and Spectral Nationality: Passages of Freedom from Kant to Postcolonial Literatures of Liberation.
Worlding and Unworlding: Worldliness, Narrative, and “Literature” in Phenomenology and Deconstruction
2016. "Worlding and Unworlding: Worldliness, Narrative, and “Literature” in Phenomenology and Deconstruction", What Is a World?: On Postcolonial Literature as World Literature, Pheng Cheah
Download citation file:
This chapter is a critical reconstruction of Heidegger’s theory of world and its ontological connection to temporality and transcendence. It elaborates on his rejection of widely accepted understandings of the world as objective presence, as the sphere created by intercourse among subjects, and his critique of geographical concepts of world and the spiritualist and materialist teleologies of Goethe, Hegel, and Marx. The chapter then examines in greater detail his argument that radically finite temporality is a force of worlding and considers its implications for understanding modern worldlessness. It then elaborates on the role of poetry and art in maintaining worldliness.
This chapter is a study of the differences between Martin Heidegger’s and Hannah Arendt’s conceptions of the world. It examines in greater detail Arendt’s critique of Heidegger’s idea of world for its denigration of politics, human action, and plurality. It then outlines the two components of Arendt’s own account of the world as the objective world of fabricated things and the intersubjective world of speech and acts. This chapter argues that Arendt’s concept of natality is a dogmatic anthropologistic reduction of the force of worlding, as evidenced by the utopianism of her solutions to modern world alienation. However, Arendt’s idea of plurality can usefully supplement Heidegger’s conception of the world with a concrete account of being-with others. The important role she gives to storytelling is also an important resource for understanding the literature’s worldly force.