In contemporary philosophical and theoretical debates, Paul Virilio is relegated to a minor figure, often to a kind of “lesser Baudrillard” or a “diminutive Foucault.” This article contests this view and repositions Virilio as a leading intellectual of the so-called theological turn. More specifically, in an “esoteric reading” of his work, read here through the optics of late medieval Neoplatonism, the article claims that the key to understanding Virilio’s work resides in a Neoplatonic metaphysics of light rather than a social-theoretics of speed. As such, it argues that Virilio is a philosopher whose primary concern is with the ontological and epistemological effects of what it refers to as “technological illumination” and how the latter stands in stark contrast with those traditional ideas of (self/divine) illumination that were the basis of a traditional urbanity and the point of departure for all forms of philosophizing in the premodern world.
Research Article|July 01 2015
Light and Illumination: Paul Virilio’s Neoplatonism and the Theological Critique of Modernity
Cultural Politics (2015) 11 (2): 260-274.
Neil Turnbull; Light and Illumination: Paul Virilio’s Neoplatonism and the Theological Critique of Modernity. Cultural Politics 1 July 2015; 11 (2): 260–274. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-2895819
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