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Dialectics Beyond Dialectics

Translated by Cain Elliott and Jan Burzyński

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Malgorzata Kowalska

Dialectics beyond Dialectics is a study of contemporary French philosophy from Bataille to Derrida. It analyses, on the first level of generalization, the decomposition of Hegelianism understood as philosophy of totality. Many French philosophers of the 20 th century deconstruct Hegelian dialectics and harshly criticize the very idea of totality as either dangerous or impossible. The thesis of the book is that, on doing so, they do not really break with dialectics, but transform it. On the second level of generalization, the issue of the book is modernity and the thesis is that transformations of dialectics reveal transformations of modern consciousness which – despite hasty declarations on the end of modernity – still remains ours.
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Chapter 2: The Ruptured Subject and the Problem of the Other

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Chapter 2

The Ruptured Subject and the Problem of the Other

The thesis of contemporary philosophy which maintains that the subject is ruptured, and therefore does not constitute a unified substance, has a long tradition behind it. Its classical version is to be found in Pascal, who fervently argued that the existence of man, sustained between two infinities, is at the same time great and deprived, spiritually and bodily. Man is described as a “double being,” a living contradiction, and an “inconceivable monster.” Pascal discussed the paradox of the human condition in both ontological and ethical terms. However, he also believed in the Christian religion, which emphasized the fallenness of man, while promising a redemption which could bring about the justification and resolution of this paradox. Another, more elaborate and, at least seemingly, more secular version of the conception of the ruptured subject is to be found in Kant’s philosophy with its fundamental distinction between the free, universal transcendental subject, which constitutes the phenomenal world and the determined, particular empirical subject, which is immersed in the world. This distinction returns in Husserl’s philosophy, but it becomes more enigmatic insofar as, according to the author of Ideas, the transcendental subject is identical with the non-worldly, universal reason and at the same time remains individual and can manifest itself through phenomenological experience. Finally, the idea of the ruptured subject is also central to the Hegelian dialectic system. In summary, for Hegel consciousness is a negation and exists only...

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