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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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Preliminary remarks


By dispersion I understand that differences are distributed in such a way that they are no longer parts of a system and they are no longer governed by any principle (unless their chaotic multiplication and fickle movement can be considered as a principle). In fact, this amounts to saying that the dispersed differences can be no longer discerned. To discern a difference is to identify it (or identify the elements that are different from each other), and thereby grant it (or the elements in question) a certain identity. The “strategy of dispersion” is certainly the most radical strategy employed in the philosophical struggle against totality. The rupture, even if multiple, multilevel, and divided into a whole series of breaks (as in Foucault’s Archeology of Knowledge), is still related to the totality, if only in the sense that it marks the places in which totality splits up. The strategy of dispersion repudiates totality altogether in that it contests every possible order (including that of determinacy). What Foucault has called dispersion was, in fact, a complex rupture and a certain type of organization, a “distribution of differences,” referring at least to a local and temporary principle. The dispersion discussed in this part of the book is, simply speaking, a synonym of chaos.

To be sure, this concept of dispersion is merely a general model. There are many particular “strategies of dispersion,” which come more or less close to this model. In the following chapters I shall discuss three...

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