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Face in Trouble – From Physiognomics to Facebook


Edited By Olga Szmidt and Katarzyna Trzeciak

This book analyzes unobvious relations between historical definitions of the face and its contemporary usage in popular culture and social media, like Facebook or Instagram. Bringing together a wide range of methodologies, it includes essays from manifold disciplines of the humanities such as philosophy, literary and art criticism, media and television studies, game studies, sociology and anthropology. The authors focus on both metaphorical and material meanings of the face. They grapple with crucial questions about modernity, modern and postmodern subjectivity, as well as with origins of certain linguistic terms and popular, colloquial phrases based on the concept of the face.

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De-facing philosophy: Negativity, the government of ethics and the concept of the ethical (Przemysław Tacik)


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Przemysław Tacik

De-facing philosophy: Negativity, the government of ethics and the concept of the ethical

This paper explores the metaphor of the face in philosophy, principally in the works of Emmanuel Levinas. The face plays a structuring role in his ethics: it organises the discharge of negativity that is subsequently used to found an ethical injunction. Yet such a usage of face-clad negativity – inherited, through Heidegger, from modern Western philosophy – demands profound reconsideration. I argue that modern thinking often resorts to what may be called ‘face philosophy’ – a special method of arranging negative energy for seemingly external (e.g. ethical) purposes. Such a re-organisation of negativity, enticing as it may seem, cannot be unproblematic in confronting the Heideggerian legacy. We need to rethink the government of ethics, the methods of arranging negative powers to dispense ethical injunctions. To this end, the paper forwards an analysis in terms of the ethical – a concept which, as a counterbalance to Schmitt’s ‘political’, allows us to question each step within ethics as the potential work of negativity.

Keywords: face, ethics, Levinas, Heidegger, Schmitt

It knew no lapse, nor Diminution – But large—serene— Burned on—until through Dissolution – It failed from Men—

I could not deem these Planetary forces Annulled— But suffered an Exchange of Territory— Or World—1

Emily Dickinson

Philosophy rarely seems to deal with the face, either as a literal object or as a...

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