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Vol. 18, No. 2 (Fall 2014)

 

AUSTRALASIAN CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY
Guest Editor: Marguerite La Cze

 

MARGUERITE LA CAZE, Introduction

MATTHEW SHARPE, Publicizing the Essentially Private: Leo Strauss’s Platonic Aristophanes [abstract]

Political philosopher Leo Strauss’s extensive engagements with Aristophanes’s comedies represent a remarkable perspective in debates concerning the political and wider meaning of Aristophanes’s plays. Yet they have attracted nearly no critical response. This paper argues that for Strauss, Aristophanes was a very serious, philosophically-minded author who wrote esoterically, using the comic form to convey his conception of man, and his answer to the Socraticquestion of the best form of life. Part I addresses Strauss’s central reading of the Clouds, which positions this play as Aristophanes’s powerful, exoteric criticism of any purely theoretical philosophy that feels no need to explain or accommodate its pursuit to political life. Part II looks at Strauss’s remarkable reading of the Platonic Aristophanes’s central speech in the Symposium, which suggests that Aristophanes was a secret friend and admirer of philosophy conceived in the Platonic manner, as an erotic search for the truth of nature, beneath Aristophanes’s religiously pious and culturally conservative veneer. Indeed, Part III of the paper shows that Strauss’s readings of the Birds, Peace and Wasps indicate that Strauss believed that Aristophanes was such an esoteric friend to the philosophy he had lampooned in the Clouds.

RICHARD J. COLLEDGE, Rethinking Disagreement: Philosophical Incommensurability and Meta-Philosophy [abstract]

Set in the context of the current interest among Analytic philosophers in the “epistemology of disagreement,” this paper explores the meta-philosophical problem of philosophical incommensurability. Motivated by Nietzsche’s provocative remark about philosophy as prejudices and desires of the heart “sifted and made abstract,” the paper first outlines the contours of the problem and then traces it through a series of examples. Drawing largely on the tradition of phenomenology and philosophical hermeneutics, a broadly Continental response to this formidable problem is suggested. Disagreement cannot be understood simply in terms of epistemological strategy, but needs to be regarded in a fundamentally hermeneutical light.

W. CHRIS HACKETT, Method, Metaphysics, Metaphor (Being after Phenomenology) [abstract]

Method, metaphysics, metaphor: three words with a common prefix, which, for philosophy, bear an ancient pedigree. Classically, the last word, as an object of philosophical reflection, has mostly been excluded from bearing any philosophical significance; we will see how this can no longer be the case today, precisely for phenomenology. If the “method” of phenomenology is wholly determined by its goal, namely, “pure” description, and if description is paradoxically only actualized in a figurative mode through guiding metaphors, then we are compelled to ask after the meaning of such a situation for metaphysics, understood as the “redundance” or “affirmation” of existence in its declaration of itself as truth— precisely, I suggest, the work done by metaphor in its strange interlacing of being and human being in the event of language.

RICCARDO BALDISSONE, Poetics of Exclusion: Derrida and the Injunctions of Modernities [abstract]

In this paper I consider Derrida’s anathematization during the 1992 “Cambridge affair” in the light of the 1270 and 1277 condemnations of unorthodox philosophical theses by the bishop of Paris, Etienne Tempier, the inventor of double truth. In particular, I compare these two occurrences through a reading of modernities as a re-centring on the new orthodoxy of naturalistic ontology, which began to take place in the 17th century. After the Humean attack, Kant recast such a naïve naturalistic objectivity into a more defendable shape, by internalizing the supposed universal spatio-temporal structure of Newtonian physics as transcendental conditions of possibility. Though the Kantian ontological and theological legacy is still detectable in Derrida’s quasi-concept of iterability, Derrida’s theoretical contributions well exceed metaphysical discourse. More generally, I argue that during the last fifty years these contributions, together with contemporary reconsiderations of modernities, produced an emerging theoretical region. Within this region, the metaphysical chain of substitution of centre for centre is displaced, so that we can evaluate practices of exclusion without having to rely on alternative injunctions.

MAX DEUTSCHER, “Il n’y a pas de hors-texte”—Once More [abstract]

Spivak translates Derrida’s “il n’y a pas de hors-texte” as “there is nothing outside the text.” By considering how the aphorism works within his study of Rousseau on sexual and textual supplements, and by reviewing related expressions in French, a mistranslation is revealed. This is not a simple error, however. The distortion is generated by Derrida’s own broader context. We must not only distinguish signification from reference but also place the aphorism within Derrida’s allusion, in the first part of Of Grammatology, to an all-embracing arche-writing. The paper ends in thus opening out the discussion of a textual “inside” or “outside.”

JOANNE FAULKNER, The Uncanny Child of Australian Nationhood: Nostalgia as a Critical Tool in Conceptualizing Social Change [abstract]

Nostalgic, socially privileged ideals of childhood have actively contributed to the formation of Australian national identity, as well as modern subject-formations more broadly. This paper argues that, while such nostalgia has been drawn on for normative ends—in the service of the management of the modern individual—nostalgia also has the power to disrupt our conceptions of the normal. In the context of the contemporary “crisis” of childhood particularly, opportunities to reconstitute ideals of “childhood” and “family” differently have become available to communities such as Aboriginal Australians, who previously have been denied access to these nostalgic forms.

DANIEL BRENNAN, Václav Havel, Jan Patočka: The Powerless and the Shaken [abstract]

This article makes a case for considering Václav Havel’s political theory of the nature of dissent as more politically grounded than that of his mentor Jan Patočka. Against the criticism of Havel, which describes him as a less rigorous repeater of Patočka’s ideas, this paper demonstrates how Havel appropriated Patočka’s idea that the dissident is, similarly to a World War I trench soldier, fighting in a contemporary front in a demobilized war. However I argue that in Havel’s thought, the understanding of dissent takes on a more practical and useful complexion than that of Patočka. This paper will explain and explore Havel’s concept of the power of the powerless, which is his key concept for defining the importance of dissidence, arguing that it is an idea that shares many similarities to Patočka’s depiction of the power of dissent; however, the power of the powerless is a move past Patočka’s thought in its attempt to make a practical liveable dissent.

Regular Articles:

NATHAN VAN CAMP, Enhancing the Natal Condition: Hannah Arendt and the Question of Biotechnology [abstract]

This paper turns to Hannah Arendt’s brief, poignant remarks about the advent of a biotechnological revolution as a starting point for a renewed reflection on her concept of natality. By expanding on Arendt’s significant, but often overlooked, reference to the work of the German anthropologist Arnold Gehlen, it will be argued that that natality is a concept that subverts any rigid opposition between zoe and bios, biological birth and politico-linguistic birth. Consequently, it will be shown that Jürgen Habermas and Michael Sandel are mistaken to appeal to the concept of natality in their arguments against genetic enhancement.

PASCALE DEVETTE, Albert Camus et la question du suicide politique. Un radical appel à la mesure? [abstract]

Dans cet article, nous explorons le concept de radicalité à partir de la pensée politique d’Albert Camus. Au travers des concepts d’absurde, de révolte et de mesure chez Camus, nous tenterons de comprendre le rapport entre violence et radicalité. Pour Camus, la racine propre à l’homme est double; elle se révèle dans une tension fondamentale entre liberté et égalité. En ce sens, la posture radicale de l’homme apparaît dans la mesure et la limite, plutôt que dans une forme d’absolu ou d’extrémisme. La seule démesure souhai- table, selon Camus, est l’amour, qui est le propre des « saints ». Nous illustrerons la radicalité telle que pensée par Camus par le cas du suicide politique. Nous tenterons de cerner ce qui, d’une part, fait du suicide politique un phénomène qu’on pourrait associer à une forme de sainteté païenne et, d’autre part, ce qui explique que le terrorisme, ou toute autre forme de violence sur autrui, est, selon Camus, non radical.

MARC CHAMPAGNE, Just Do It: Schopenhauer and Peirce on the Immediacy of Agency [abstract]

In response to the claim that our sense of will is illusory, some philosophers have called for a better understanding of the phenomenology of agency. Although I am broadly sympathetic with the tenor of this response, I question whether the positive-theoretic blueprint it promotes truly heralds a tenable undertaking. Marshaling a Schopenhauerian insight, I examine the possibility that agency might not be amenable to phenomenological description. Framing this thesis in terms of Charles S. Peirce’s semiotic framework, I suggest a way to integrate the idea of streaming experiences with that of bodily strivings, which, owing to their primitive structure, can never be represented.

JOSEPH KEEPING, The Time Is Out of Joint: A Hermeneutic Phenomenology of Grief[abstract]

In this paper, I embark upon a hermeneutic phenomenological analysis of the emotion of grief, based upon three experiences of grief I witnessed over the preceding year. I find that grief is best construed not as an emotion akin to sadness or anger, but as an affective-behavioural complex resulting from a discord between the world that we affectively inhabit and the world in which we currently find ourselves. I therefore conceive the process of getting over grief, or grieving, as an active process of readjusting our affective and behavioural habits on both a thematic and a pre-thematic level.

TYLER TRITTEN, The Trace as Tautegorical: An Account of the Face in Levinas [abstract]

This article explicates the notion of face, which Emmanuel Levinasunderstands as trace, in terms of the tautegorical. In opposition to the allegorical, the tautegorical is neither representational nor referential in the traditional sense. In contradistinction to the tautological, the tautegorical indicates an a-symmetrical and therefore not to be inverted identity between the so-called origin of the trace and the trace itself. Accordingly, a smile is happiness, but happiness—qua origin of the smile—is not reducible to the smile. Now, if the face of the Other is, as Levinas suggests, the trace of the wholly Other, i.e., God, then Derrida’s question arises as to whether God is but an effect of the trace. This essay argues in the negative. Traces condition their origins as after-effects without the origins becoming mere consequences of the posterior; this is the proper way of accounting for Levinas’s notion of the “posteriority of the anterior.”

GEORGE TOMLINSON, Temporalizing a Materialist Concept of History [abstract]

This paper proceeds from the premise that time and temporality constitute a distinct philosophical problem for Marx and Engels’s materialist concept of history in The German Ideology. It is thus necessary to “temporalize” this concept of history: to situate it in relation to the active production of a dynamic difference between the past, the present, and the future. After revisiting the philosophical dimensions of Marx’s concepts of materialism, the human, and need, this article uncovers a temporality within the materialist concept of history that is irreducible to a historicist framework of linear, progressive time.