‘Pour en finir avec …’: Democracy and Sacrifice

Gerald Moore

in Politics of the Gift

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780748642021
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671861 | DOI:
‘Pour en finir avec …’: Democracy and Sacrifice

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The book's final and most important chapter returns to the question of sacrifice, reposed through Derrida and Badiou in a way that shows how philosophers have gone simultaneously too far and not far enough in breaking with the philosophical tradition. Disdainful of the sacrifice seen by Hegel and Heidegger to incarnate the State, the sublime moment in which we fully receive the gift of the event, Nancy goes so far as to reject a link between sacrifice and politics. The impossible offering of existence means precisely that there can be no sacrifice, no privileged means through which to grasp and instantiate the event in the present. But this is to presuppose a pre-deconstructive concept of sacrifice, namely one that seeks to gain access to a privileged and transcendent ground. Returning not just to Derrida, but to Alain Badiou's critique of the ‘apolitical’ Deleuze, it is argued that sacrifice lies at the heart of politics, as another name for decisions that cannot simply be sublated by philosophy. Illustrative of the underlying sacrificial structure of politics is democracy, which consists above all in the impossible attempt to negotiate without pretence to sublation or a redemptive experience of political grace.

Keywords: Sacrifice; Democracy; Decision; Philosophy; Politics; Jacques Derrida; Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari; Jean-Luc Nancy; Alain Badiou

Chapter.  18382 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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