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The Different Modes of Existence

2015
Author:

Étienne Souriau
Introduction by Isabelle Stengers and Bruno Latour
Translated by Erik Beranek and Tim Howles 

Distributed for Univocal Publishing

The Different Modes of Existence

Exploring the aesthetic depths of the various modes of existence by one of France’s most heralded but forgotten thinkers of existential pluralism

There are indeed different manners of existing, even different degrees or intensities of existence. The Different Modes of Existence methodically defends the thesis of an existential pluralism, inquiring about the relation between the existence of a work of art and that of a living being.

What relation is there between the existence of a work of art and that of a living being? Between the existence of an atom and that of a value like solidarity? These questions become our own each time a reality—whether it is a piece of music, someone we love, or a fictional character—is established and begins to take on an importance in our lives. Like William James or Gilles Deleuze, Souriau methodically defends the thesis of an existential pluralism. There are indeed different manners of existing and even different degrees or intensities of existence: from pure phenomena to objectivized things, by way of the virtual and the “super-existent,” to which works of art and the intellect, and even morality, bear witness. Existence is polyphonic, and, as a result, the world is considerably enriched and enlarged. Beyond all that exists in the ordinary sense of the term, it is necessary to allow for all sorts of virtual and ephemeral states, transitional realms, and barely begun realities, still in the making, all of which constitute so many “inter-worlds.”

The Different Modes of Existence

Etienne Souriau was one of France’s most influential postwar thinkers. From Gilles Deleuze to Bruno Latour, Souriau’s philosophy of aesthetics has begun to be rediscovered by a variety of thinkers in contemporary discussions on art and life.

Erik Beranek is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at DePaul University.

Tim Howles is a doctoral candidate in theology and religion at the University of Oxford.

About This Book