The acephalic community

Bataillean sovereignty, the question of relation, and the passage to the subject

Andrey Gordienko

pp. 75-90

The present essay reconsiders Georges Bataille's politics of the impossible in light of Jean-Luc Nancy's and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe's collaborative work conducted at the Centre for Philosophical Research on the Political. In particular, my submission critically assesses Nancy's and Lacoue-Labarthe's concerted effort to displace the problematic of the subject to make room for a new ground of the political derived from Bataillean conception of community. While Bataille's philosophy proved to be decisive to Nancy's and Lacoue-Labarthe's exploratory research at the Centre, it also constituted a source of profound ambivalence insofar as Bataillean thinking of relation necessarily leads back to the question of the subject. The paper argues that Nancy's admitted failure to develop the unprecedented Bataillean politics is rooted in persistence of the subject in Bataille's philosophy. At the same time, it maintains that what Nancy perceived as a failure must be grasped as success since Bataillean determination of the political necessitates not so much an eradication of the problematic of the subject, as its re-elaboration. If, as Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe suggest, construction of the subject throughout the development of Western metaphysics has determined philosophical thinking of political community, then Bataillean sovereignty (with its presupposition of the acephalic subject freed from subjection to symbolic authority) allows for a new and non-identitarian conception of community not bound to the destiny of the state.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11007-017-9414-8

Full citation:

Gordienko, A. (2019). The acephalic community: Bataillean sovereignty, the question of relation, and the passage to the subject. Continental Philosophy Review 52 (1), pp. 75-90.

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