This essay is a genealogical appreciation of the theoretical legacy of the work of William Spanos as it has evolved from an early and ongoing commitment to the “de-structive hermeneutics” of Martin Heidegger toward Edward Said’s exilic politics of a contrapuntal secular humanism. The essay argues that Spanos is one of those rare critics who have found a way to align the generosity of ontological thinking with the polemical intensity of political critique. Moving subtly between a poststructuralist epistemological critique of humanism and a robust political-secular advocacy of humanism, Spanos’s long career of distinguished work continues to vivify the human condition in the name of the Heideggerian “nothing.” The uniqueness of the Spanos legacy is its idiosyncratic originality: for example, Spanos’s brand of poststructuralism is not compatible with what has come to be known as poststructuralism, just as Spanosian postmodernism is at odds with canonical versions of the postmodern. During times of theoretical apathy and indifference, what sets apart Spanos’s legacy is its underlying ethics of care, and its indefatigable passion for resistance and oppositional thinking.
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R. Radhakrishnan; In the Name of the Nothing, from Heidegger to Said: A Spanos Itinerary. boundary 2 1 February 2015; 42 (1): 43–65. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-2828254
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