For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Bataille against Heidegger: Language and the Escape from the World"

by Ryder, Andrew (2011)


In 1984, Jürgen Habermas spoke of a “common project” between Bataille and Heidegger (1998: 168). Each desires to overcome modernity, to discard rationalism, and to outstrip subjectivism (Habermas, 1998: 169). Habermas admits two distinctions: One is stylistic, and the other is that Bataille’s objection to rationalization is ethical, whereas Heidegger’s is ontological (ibid.). He considers both of these gaps to be epiphenomenal. The difference of style is of greater import than Habermas realizes. More than this, Bataille’s ethical objection is substantive as well as stylistic; in Heidegger, he sees acquiescence to the hierarchical distinctions of a reified world. The distance of style and an ethic of affect between Bataille and Heidegger separate the former from the political errors of the latter. I will strive to pry apart the equivalence established by Habermas, partly through a measured comparison of both these thinkers to Emmanuel Levinas.


Bataille, Heidegger, Marx, Modernity, Hierarchy, Levinas


On Heidegger, On Bataille

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