"The Ethical Appeal of the Indifferent: Maurice Blanchot and Michel Foucault"
by Biti, Vladimir (2021)
Ever since its emergence, the modern concept of revolution rests on an ambiguity. While it insists on the present’s intellectual sovereignty over the past, it cannot get rid of its pre-modern predecessor, re-evolution, which insisted on the present’s genetic dependence on the past. From the very beginning of its historical trajectory, this concept inconspicuously interferes with the pre-modern concept of re-evolution as a cyclical return to origins. The cyclical logic never smoothly absorbs the linear one without simultaneously being displaced by its uncanny residue. In turn, the same uncanny leftover operates in the opposite direction, accompanying the putative liquidation of the cyclical logic by the linear one. This disjunctive conjunction of the present and the past characterizes the relationship between the events of May ‘68 and the theoretical work that followed it, known under the label of l’après-Mai or post-May. Rather than being homely and familiar, the post-May thinkers’ present was interrupted by the interventions of the remnants from the colonial past and the Holocaust. This is the point of departure for my interpretation of the ethical appeal of the indifferent in the works of Michel Foucault and Maurice Blanchot.
A “man always on the move,” he toyed “with the thought that he might have been, had fate so decided, a statesman (a political advisor) as well as a writer … or a pure philosopher” or, as the original – but not the translation – continues, “an unqualified worker, that is, nothing or nobody in particular” (“ou un travailleur sans qualification, donc un je ne sais quoi ou un je ne sais qui”).. (p.375)
KeywordsBlanchot, Foucault, Revolution, Interventions, Colonialism, Ethics, Political Philosophy
Links to Reference
How to contribute.