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Since the publication of this Open Review edition of the first draft of this book manuscript, the manuscript has been significantly revised and has now entered production with Columbia University Press.
- Guide to the Etienne Balibar papers MS.C.023
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Guide to the Etienne Balibar papers MS.C.023
Illustration from La dioptrique , a short treatise published by Rene Descartes in In this essay Descartes uses various models to understand the properties of light.
This supposes that man, or rather the ego , is determined and conceived of as subject subjectum. This also has the correlative effect of identifying, for all modern philosophy, the hypokeimenon and the foundation of being with the being of the subject of thought, the other of the object. Is this nuance decisive? The problem of substance, as is well known, appears fairly late in the course of the Meditations. But even here it is not a question of the subject. Considering these different contexts, it becomes clear that the essential concept for Descartes is that of substance —in the new signification that he gives to it.
This signification is not limited to objectifying, each on its own side, the res cogitans and the res extensa : it allows the entire set of causal relations between infinite God and finite things, between ideas and bodies, between my soul and my own body, to be thought. It is thus primarily a relational concept. Likewise, thought and extension are really distinct substances, having no attributes whatsoever in common, and nevertheless the very reality of this distinction implies a substantial non-accidental union as the basis of our experience of our sensations.
It is only because all finite substances are eminently caused by God have their eminent cause, or rather the eminence of their cause, in God that they are also in a causal relation among themselves. Thus, nothing is further from Descartes than a metaphysics of Substance conceived of as a univocal term. Rather, this concept has acquired a new equivocality in his work, without which it could not fill its structural function: to name in turn each of the poles of a topography in which I am situated simultaneously as cause and effect or rather as a cause that is itself only an effect.
Descartes mentions it, in response to objections, only in order to make a scholastic defense of his realist thesis every substance is the real subject of its own accidents. It is for this reason that substance is practically indiscernible from its principle attribute comprehensible: extension, thought; or incomprehensible: infinity, omnipotence. But it is not essential to attach this substance to the representation of a subjectum , and it is in any case impossible to apply the name of subjectum to the ego cogito.
Thus, the idea that causality and sovereignty can be converted into one another is conserved and reinforced in Descartes. It could even be said that this idea is pushed to the limit—which is perhaps, for us in any case, the herald of a coming decomposition of this figure of thought.
The obvious fact that an extreme intellectual tension results from it is recognized and constantly reexamined by Descartes himself. How can it be conceived of outside this subjection, for it is the image of another freedom, of another power? The first, mystical, consists in identifying freedom and subjection: to will freely, in the sense of necessary freedom, enlightened by true knowledge, is to coincide with the act by which God conserves me in a relative perfection.
The other tendency, pragmatic, consists in displacing the question, playing on the topography of substances, making my subjection to God into the origin of my mastery over and possession of nature, and more precisely of the absolute power that I can exercise over my passions. There are no fewer difficulties in either one of these theses. This is not the place to discuss them, but it is clear that, in either case, freedom can in fact only be thought as the freedom of the subject , of the subjected being, that is, as a contradiction in terms.
But what is the subjectus? It is the other name of the subditus , according to an equivalence practiced by all medieval political theology and systematically exploited by the theoreticians of absolute monarchy: the individual submitted to the ditio , to the sovereign authority of a prince, an authority expressed in his orders and itself legitimated by the Word of another Sovereign the Lord God. How is it, then, that they have come to be confused?
What is the purpose of this gloss, which has been both lengthy and schematic? This is the point of view I have chosen, for reasons that will soon become clear.
The first, which I sketched out a moment ago, is perhaps more natural to the contemporary philosopher. But why not follow more fully the indication given by language? Not, or at least not immediately, the transcendental subject with all its doubles: logical subject, grammatical subject, substantial subject , which is by definition a neuter before becoming an it , but the subject as an individual or a person submitted to the exercise of a power, whose model is, first of all, political, and whose concept is juridical.
The French or Anglo-French language here presents an advantage over German or even over Latin, one that is properly philosophical: it retains in the equivocal unity of a single noun the subjectum and the subjectus , the Subjekt and the Untertan. Here is the answer: After the subject comes the citizen. This answer does not have to be fictively discovered, or proposed as an eschatological wager supposing that the subject is in decline, what can be said of his future successor?
It is already given and in all our memories. We can even give it a date: , even if we know that this date and the pace it indicates are too simple to enclose the entire process of the substitution of the citizen for the subject.
The fact remains that marks the irreversibility of this process—the effect of a rupture. We also know that this answer carries with it, historically, its own justification: If the citizen comes after the subject, it is in the quality of a rehabilitation, even a restoration implied by the very idea of a revolution.
For the origin is not the subject, but man. But is this interpretation the only possible one? Is it indissociable from the fact itself?
I would like to devote a few provisional reflections to the interest that these questions hold for philosophy—including when philosophy is displaced from the subjectus to the subjectum.
Or is not the latter rather the reinscription of the citizen in a philosophical and, beyond that, anthropological space, which evokes the defunct subject or the prince even while displacing it? We cannot respond directly to these questions, which are inevitably raised by the letter of the Kantian invention once the context of its moment is restored.
We must first make a detour through history. Who is the subject of the prince? And who is the citizen who comes after the subject? The passage of nervous impulses from the eye to the pineal gland and so to the muscles.
It has often been demonstrated how, in the political history of Western Europe, the time of subjects coincides with that of absolutism. Absolutism, in effect, seems to give a complete and coherent form to a power that is founded only upon itself, and that is founded as being without limits thus uncontrollable and irresistible by definition.
Such a power truly makes men into subjects, and nothing but subjects, for the very being of the subject is obedience. Nevertheless, this perspective is deceptive: rather than a coherent from, classical absolutism is a knot of contradictions, and this can also be seen at the level of theory, in its discourse.
Absolutism never manages to stabilize its definition of obedience and thus its definition of the subject. In order to answer this question we must sketch a historical genesis of the subject and his contradiction. A single text will suffice to recall it:. Sequitur de jure personarum alia divisio. Nam quaedam personae juris sunt, quaedam alieno juri sunt subjectae. Sed rursus earum personarum quae alieno juri subjectae sunt, aliae in potestate, aliae in manum, aliae in manci pio sunt.
Videamus nunc de iis quae alieno juri subjectae sint, si cognoverimus quae istae personae sunt, simul intellegemus quae sui juris sint. We come to another classification in the law of persons. Some people are independent and some are subject to others. Again, of those persons who are dependent, some are in power, some in marital subordination and some in bondage.
Let us examine the dependent category. If we find out who is dependent, we cannot help seeing who is independent. Strangely, it is by way of the definition the dialectical division of the forms of subjection that the definition of free men, the masters, is obtained a contrario. The notions of potestas , manus , and mancipium are not sufficient to do this. The subjects are not the heterogeneous set formed by slaves, plus legitimate children, plus wives, plus acquired or adopted relatives.
What is required is an imperium. In effect, the subject has two major characteristics, both of which lead to aporias in particular in the form given them by absolute monarchy : he is a subditus ; he is not a servus.
These characteristics are reciprocal, but each has its own dialectic. The subject is a subditus : This means that he enters into a relation of obedience.
Obedience is not the same as a compulsion: it is something more. The power to compel is distributed throughout a hierarchy of unequal powers relations of majoritas minoritas. Obedience is the principle, identical to itself along the whole length of the hierarchical chain, and attached in the last instance to its transcendental origin, which makes those who obey into the members of a single body.
Obedience institutes the command of higher over lower, but it fundamentally comes from below: as subditi , the subjects will their own obedience. And if they will it, it is because it is inscribed in an economy of creation their creation and salvation their salvation, that of each taken individually and of all taken collectively.
He is a Christian, who knows that all power comes from God. In obeying the law of the prince he obeys God. This structure contains the seeds of an infinite dialectic, which is in fact what unifies the subject in the same way as it unifies, in the person of the sovereign, the act and its sanctification, decision making and justice : because of it the subject does not have to ask himself any questions, for the answers have always already been given.
But it is also what divides the subject. Absolute monarchy in particular develops a contradiction that can be seen as the culmination of the conflict between the temporal power and the spiritual power. A passage is made from the divine right of kings to the idea of their direct election: It is as such that royal power is made divine and that the State transfers to itself the various sacraments. And obedience correlatively … Such an obedience, in its unity and its divisions, implies the notion of the soul.
But to receive a command archemenos implies that one can oneself—at least theoretically—give a command this is the Aristotelian definition of the citizen. Doubtless differentiations the ignorance of which is what properly characterizes barbarism ought to be made here: the woman even for the Greeks, and a fortiori for the Romans is not a slave. Nevertheless, these differences can be subsumed under analogous oppositions: the part and the whole, passivity and activity, the body and the soul or intellect.
In order to conceive of this idea, obedience must be transferred to the side of the soul, and the soul must cease to be thought of as natural. On the contrary, the soul must come to name a supernatural part of the individual that hears the dignity of the order.
It was elaborated within a theological framework, simply developing the idea that the subject is a believer, a Christian. But this way of thinking the freedom of the subject is, in practice, extraordinarily ambivalent. He is submitted as a member of an order or a body that is recognized as having certain rights and that confers a certain status, a field of initiative, upon him.
The tension becomes, once again, a contradiction under absolute monarchy. We have already seen how the latter brings the mysterious unity of the temporal and spiritual sovereign to the point of rupture. The same goes for the freedom of the subject. The controversy over the difference or lack of one between absolutism and despotism accompanies the whole history of absolute monarchy.
Illustration from La dioptrique , a short treatise published by Rene Descartes in In this essay Descartes uses various models to understand the properties of light. This supposes that man, or rather the ego , is determined and conceived of as subject subjectum. This also has the correlative effect of identifying, for all modern philosophy, the hypokeimenon and the foundation of being with the being of the subject of thought, the other of the object. Is this nuance decisive? The problem of substance, as is well known, appears fairly late in the course of the Meditations. But even here it is not a question of the subject.
A Marxist Theory of Ideology Praxis, Thought and the Social In common with Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory , New Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time and Emancipation s , The Rhetorical Foundations is an in-between work of conceptual labour a collection of essays announcing a more finished monograph to come, of the kind represented by Hegemony and Socialist Strategy Towards a Radical Democratic Politics In this weekends long-read article, Grigoris Markou surveys the re-emergence of Marxist and Communist ideas in contemporary political discourse. Tracing the relationship between Marxism and Populism, Markou concludes convergence between populism and Marxism seems to be extremely utopian for north European societies, in which capitalism, liberal thinking and excessive consumerism Our ever-popular Radical Thinkers series has been running over 13 years and in that time has offered an essential collection of accessible books for the discerning radical. But with now with over books in the series, just how do you chose which books to buy? Below is our guide to the all-time greats, and some forgotten classics you may have missed. Clemenss book is not only about populism by which he understands, in essence, government in accordance with the peoples wishes as expressed in opinion polls it is itself a manifesto of anti-elitist populism.
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In common with Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory , New Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time and Emancipation s , The Rhetorical Foundations is an in-between work of conceptual labour a collection of essays announcing a more finished monograph to come, of the kind represented by Hegemony and Socialist Strategy Towards a Radical Democratic Politics Marxist Literary Criticism An Introductory Reading Guide Our ever-popular Radical Thinkers series has been running over 13 years and in that time has offered an essential collection of accessible books for the discerning radical. But with now with over books in the series, just how do you chose which books to buy?
The unemployable and the generic: rethinking the commons in the communist hypothesis
Она снова услышала голос Дэвида: Я люблю. Беги. Внезапный прилив энергии позволил ей освободиться из объятий коммандера. Шум ТРАНСТЕКСТА стал оглушающим. Огонь приближался к вершине. ТРАНСТЕКСТ стонал, его корпус готов был вот-вот рухнуть.
Задняя стенка ангара бесследно исчезла прямо перед. Такси все еще двигалось рядом, тоже въехав на газон. Огромный лист гофрированного металла слетел с капота автомобиля и пролетел прямо у него над головой. С гулко стучащим сердцем Беккер надавил на газ и исчез в темноте. ГЛАВА 84 Джабба вздохнул с облегчением, припаяв последний контакт.