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Nancy, Jean-Luc (1940–)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DE019-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2018
Retrieved April 15, 2024, from

Article Summary

Jean-Luc Nancy has developed, expanded and reimagined the general project of deconstructing Western philosophy. His early writings, some of which were written in collaboration with Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, largely consist of careful analyses of major philosophers and writers, ranging from Plato to Blanchot. By combining deconstructive readings with modes of inquiry associated with French phenomenological and existentialist traditions, Nancy argues in a variety of contexts that being is always being-in-common. The task of philosophy lies 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 unitary 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 surprising ‘fact’ upon which Nancy’s investigations into philosophy, literature, psychoanalysis and political phenomena are generally oriented. Nancy’s later writings expand on his reflections on being-in-common in several, often surprising directions, beginning with studies of corporeality and tactility, which lead him to the ‘deconstruction of Christianity.’ Some of his most trenchant writings intervene in contemporary political and philosophical controversies, such as, most recently, reflections on globalization and the scandal of Heidegger’s anti-Semitism.

Citing this article:
Fenves, Peter. Nancy, Jean-Luc (1940–), 2018, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DE019-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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