In one of his most important early works, Ego Sum, published in 1979, Jean-Luc Nancy lamented what he saw as a return of the subject within contemporary philosophical and theoretical discourse. This return of the subject could be discerned most clearly in Lacanian psychoanalysis but also more generally in the way philosophy was borrowing from nonphilosophical, largely anthropological contexts, and in ways that would allow it to determine a “subject” constituted within a symbolic, discursive order or episteme (Nancy 1979: 12). What he termed “a prolix expansion of the anthropological subject,” also necessarily entailed, he argued, “an effectuation of the metaphysics of the subject” and at the same time “a forgetting of the metaphysical provenance and nature of this subject, a forgetting, mis-recognition or denegation of the metaphysics (or onto-theology) which it perpetuates” (13). In many ways, the entire trajectory of Nancy’s subsequent philosophy unfolds as an...
Rejecting the Subject
Ian James completed his doctoral research on the fictional and theoretical writings of Pierre Klossowski at the University of Warwick in 1996. He is a fellow of Downing College and a reader in modern French literature and thought in the Department of French at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Pierre Klossowski: The Persistence of a Name (2000), The Fragmentary Demand: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy (2006), Paul Virilio (2007), and The New French Philosophy (2012).
Ian James; Rejecting the Subject. Cultural Politics 1 November 2015; 11 (3): 421–425. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-3342271
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