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Jean-Luc Nancy and the question of community

Ignaas Devisch UGent (2012) Bloomsbury Studies in Contentintal Philosophy.
abstract
Although not new, the question of community remains a pertinent one. Community lies at the heart of the debate between liberals and communitarians, both in society in general and in contemporary philosophical discourse. Yet in the foremost Anglo-Saxon liberalism/communitarianism debate, the voice of the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy has gone largely unheard, despite the fact that community is one of the central themes of his work. Inspired by thinkers such as Georges Bataille, Jacques Derrida and Martin Heidegger, Nancy points to the enormous challenge community confronts us with today: for the first time in history, we must try to live in a community and a world without ontological guarantees, an existence that lacks any pre-given criterion, ground or reason. How are we to understand living in common today, sometimes without having anything left common? The French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy has made of the question of community one the central questions of his oeuvre. For Nancy, the question of community is the question of our time, and the need to subject it to thorough philosophical analysis has assumed the central place in his work, alongside his reflections on art, religion and literature. It is not so much a new theory of community Nancy has in mind. Rather than abandoning a specific form of thought, he aims to put the ways we speak and think about the social bond into question, to break them open and exhaust all of their registers. Nancy’s work takes another look at community, at the social bond and at identity more generally, than we are used to. His point of departure is the ontological social condition that, according to Nancy, we are always already in. For Nancy, every form of being-with starts out from this condition but this has been denied in the thinking of community until very recently. In this book, the author stages a confrontation between the ongoing contemporary debate on community and Nancy’s work in an attempt to discover the relevance of Nancy’s insights in this wider context. Nancy’s work in general is first presented through a brief sketch of the main references and sources of his thinking: his discussions with Bataille and Blanchot, his inspiration by Heidegger and the importance of Derrida’s oeuvre. Following this is an analysis of the contemporary ‘longing for an original being together’ emerging from Nancy’s work, after which the opposition between community and society, which often plays a central role in the discussion on community in both philosophy and sociology, is subjected to a deconstruction. Nancy himself points his conceptual apparatus concerning the theme of community towards what one might call a ‘social ontology’: a fundamental or existential analysis of our existence which he calls co-existence of singular plural being. Step by step, the author unravels Nancy’s main concepts (‘sense’, ‘being’, ‘world’, ‘being-in-common’, etc), culminating in a detailed discussion of this social ontology. In the process, Devisch questions how one is to trace the path of Nancy’s thinking in this. To exist means above all to exist in a singular way, says Nancy. A singular existence is an existence that is no longer determined by an essence that founds existence. This singularity is always already a plurality: there is no singularity which is not thrown into plurality and the other way round, there is no plurality which is not singular. It is not by accident that the title of one of his major studies is Being singular plural, for this is one of Nancy’s central theses: being is always being-with, singular is always singular plural, being one is always being more than one. The singularity is a plurality, with and between other singularities. Elucidating Nancy’s frequently noted but insufficiently explored shift from the social to the political level, the book concludes with a short exploration of the political consequences of Nancy’s work with respect to concepts of sovereignty, justice and globalisation. Thus the book ends by asking the question, can Nancy’s social ontology also be used as an explicitly political analysis?
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
book
publication status
published
subject
keyword
community, Jean-Luc Nancy
series title
Bloomsbury Studies in Contentintal Philosophy
pages
256 pages
publisher
Bloomsbury Academic
place of publication
London, UK
ISBN
9781441165626
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
B1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
VABB id
c:vabb:337811
VABB type
VABB-2
id
3054120
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-3054120
date created
2012-11-18 21:34:33
date last changed
2012-11-20 08:48:42
@book{3054120,
  abstract     = {Although not new, the question of community remains a pertinent one. Community lies at the heart of the debate between liberals and communitarians, both in society in general and in contemporary philosophical discourse. Yet in the foremost Anglo-Saxon liberalism/communitarianism debate, the voice of the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy has gone largely unheard, despite the fact that community is one of the central themes of his work. Inspired by thinkers such as Georges Bataille, Jacques Derrida and Martin Heidegger, Nancy points to the enormous challenge community confronts us with today: for the first time in history, we must try to live in a community and a world without ontological guarantees, an existence that lacks any pre-given criterion, ground or reason. How are we to understand living in common today, sometimes without having anything left common? 
The French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy has made of the question of community one the central questions of his oeuvre. For Nancy, the question of community is the question of our time, and the need to subject it to thorough philosophical analysis has assumed the central place in his work, alongside his reflections on art, religion and literature. It is not so much a new theory of community Nancy has in mind. Rather than abandoning a specific form of thought, he aims to put the ways we speak and think about the social bond into question, to break them open and exhaust all of their registers. Nancy{\textquoteright}s work takes another look at community, at the social bond and at identity more generally, than we are used to. His point of departure is the ontological social condition that, according to Nancy, we are always already in. For Nancy, every form of being-with starts out from this condition but this has been denied in the thinking of community until very recently.
In this book, the author stages a confrontation between the ongoing contemporary debate on community and Nancy{\textquoteright}s work in an attempt to discover the relevance of Nancy{\textquoteright}s insights in this wider context. Nancy{\textquoteright}s work in general is first presented through a brief sketch of the main references and sources of his thinking: his discussions with Bataille and Blanchot, his inspiration by Heidegger and the importance of Derrida{\textquoteright}s oeuvre. Following this is an analysis of the contemporary {\textquoteleft}longing for an original being together{\textquoteright} emerging from Nancy{\textquoteright}s work, after which the opposition between community and society, which often plays a central role in the discussion on community in both philosophy and sociology, is subjected to a deconstruction. 
Nancy himself points his conceptual apparatus concerning the theme of community towards what one might call a {\textquoteleft}social ontology{\textquoteright}: a fundamental or existential analysis of our existence which he calls co-existence of singular plural being. Step by step, the author unravels Nancy{\textquoteright}s main concepts ({\textquoteleft}sense{\textquoteright}, {\textquoteleft}being{\textquoteright}, {\textquoteleft}world{\textquoteright}, {\textquoteleft}being-in-common{\textquoteright}, etc), culminating in a detailed discussion of this social ontology. In the process, Devisch questions how one is to trace the path of Nancy{\textquoteright}s thinking in this. To exist means above all to exist in a singular way, says Nancy. A singular existence is an existence that is no longer determined by an essence that founds existence. This singularity is always already a plurality: there is no singularity which is not thrown into plurality and the other way round, there is no plurality which is not singular. It is not by accident that the title of one of his major studies is Being singular plural, for this is one of Nancy{\textquoteright}s central theses: being is always being-with, singular is always singular plural, being one is always being more than one. The singularity is a plurality, with and between other singularities. 
Elucidating Nancy{\textquoteright}s frequently noted but insufficiently explored shift from the social to the political level, the book concludes with a short exploration of the political consequences of Nancy{\textquoteright}s work with respect to concepts of sovereignty, justice and globalisation. Thus the book ends by asking the question, can Nancy{\textquoteright}s social ontology also be used as an explicitly political analysis?},
  author       = {Devisch, Ignaas},
  isbn         = {9781441165626},
  keyword      = {community,Jean-Luc Nancy},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {256},
  publisher    = {Bloomsbury Academic},
  series       = {Bloomsbury Studies in Contentintal Philosophy},
  title        = {Jean-Luc Nancy and the question of community},
  year         = {2012},
}

Chicago
Devisch, Ignaas. 2012. Jean-Luc Nancy and the Question of Community. Bloomsbury Studies in Contentintal Philosophy. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic.
APA
Devisch, Ignaas. (2012). Jean-Luc Nancy and the question of community. Bloomsbury Studies in Contentintal Philosophy. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic.
Vancouver
1.
Devisch I. Jean-Luc Nancy and the question of community. Bloomsbury Studies in Contentintal Philosophy. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic; 2012.
MLA
Devisch, Ignaas. Jean-Luc Nancy and the Question of Community. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic, 2012. Print.