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Nancy, Jean-Luc (1940–)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DE019-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved August 20, 2018, from

Article Summary

Jean-Luc Nancy has disclosed significant political and social dimensions to the general project of deconstructing Western philosophy. Existence does not precede essence, according to Nancy; existence is without essence, and it is therefore impossible both to represent existence and to exist alone. Being is always ’being in common’. The task of philosophy consists in rethinking the commonality of being without relying on any prior conception of identity, unity or wholeness. ’Being in common’ means that nothing – no substance, no identifiable trait– is held in common. The absence of a common substance or spiritual identity does not then generate a command to make up for this lack by means of socially useful work. As the exposure of each singularity to its ungrounded commonality, ’being in common’ is the always surprising ’fact’ upon which all of Nancy’s investigations into philosophy, literature, psychoanalysis and political phenomena are oriented.

Citing this article:
Fenves, Peter. Nancy, Jean-Luc (1940–), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DE019-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2018 Routledge.

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