In this article, I argue that François Jullien’s thought draws into question the exceptionalism that typically constitutes Western thought. Consider, for example, the thought of the event, which is a thought of the break, the rupture, of radical caesura—of the miracle, which Jullien (who is also a thinker of Christianity) frequently mentions. It is the thought of the subject, the author, the artist, the genius, the sovereign, and the creator. Such exceptionalism is political as well as aesthetic. It is philosophical—ontological and metaphysical—as well as theological. If Jullien, in all his work, operates within what he calls “the divergence” between nonessentialist notions of Western thought and Chinese thought, I argue that he thereby illuminates Western exceptionalism and shows how Chinese thought is unexceptional, so as to exploit the resources of both.
François Jullien’s Unexceptional Thought
Arne De Boever teaches American studies in the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts, where he also directs the MA Aesthetics and Politics program. He is the author of States of Exception in the Contemporary Novel (2012), Narrative Care (2013), Plastic Sovereignties (2016), and Finance Fictions (2018).
Arne De Boever; François Jullien’s Unexceptional Thought. boundary 2 1 February 2020; 47 (1): 1–42. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-7999481
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