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Dialectics Beyond Dialectics

Translated by Cain Elliott and Jan Burzyński


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 3: Ruptured History. Toward Dispersion


Chapter 3

Ruptured History. Toward Dispersion

Reconstructing structuralist and existentialist critiques of totality in the first part of the book, I have, nolens volens, touched on different conceptions of ruptured history.78 I have distinguished between the rupture caused by the subject and the rupture set against the subject in order to show that both existentialism (especially in the Sartre’s version) and structuralism (at least in Lacan’s version) underscore the essential rupture inherent in the subject. The problem of ruptured history also manifested itself in the discussion of Aron, Lyotard, and Lévinas’s political thought.79 Let us further elaborate on this problem, examining the shape that the conception of ruptured history assumed in the work of Michel Foucault – the author whom I have discussed only briefly and roughly labeled as a “structuralist.” My aim is not to exhaust the problematics posed by Foucault’s reflection, but it is to present some of his most important critical ideas that illustrate what I have called the “strategy of dispersion.”

As a theory of ruptured history, Foucault’s conception is exceptional against the backdrop of contemporary French philosophy. What is exceptional is especially his “method,” oscillating between theoretical speculation and archivistic passion, philosophy and historical sciences, the conceptual invention and the “Freemasonry of useless erudition.”80 What is original – especially in the domains of philosophy and traditional science of history – are the topics upon which he reflects and which can be roughly described as the history of psychiatry, clinical medicine,...

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