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The Sense of the World

1997
Author:

Jean-Luc Nancy
Translated by Jeffrey S. Librett
Foreword by Jeffrey S. Librett

The Sense of the World

An essential exploration of sense and meaning.

Acknowledging the lack of meaning in our time, and the lack of a world at the center of meanings we try to impose, Jean-Luc Nancy presents a rigorous critique of the many discourses-from philosophy and political science to psychoanalysis and art history-that talk and write their way around these gaping absences in our lives.

Jean-Luc Nancy is one of France's foremost philosophers....The Sense of the World is an altogether necessary and fascinating work, crucially timed for the end of the millennium, with its attendant obsessions. Nancy begins by explaining philosophically the experience of "the end of the world." -We appear to know and affirm that the world is coming to some sort of end, but we cannot say in what sense. Indeed, the question of sense informs our understanding of "world." -In the main, Nancy is exploring the contemporary crisis of meaning around which so much debate has been organized in the last two decades. Yet his discussion is not merely abstract or held tightly to some recondite philosophical program. His concern, as in all of his recent works, is with existence and the experience of freedo

the actuality of existence as it is lived and experienced by the contemporary communities of citizens, readers, writers, idlers, etc. In this regard his aim is always political, active and stimulating.

The Sense of the World

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An essential exploration of sense and meaning.

Is there a “world” anymore, let alone any “sense” to it? Acknowledging the lack of meaning in our time, and the lack of a world at the center of meanings we try to impose, Jean-Luc Nancy presents a rigorous critique of the many discourses-from philosophy and political science to psychoanalysis and art history-that talk and write their way around these gaping absences in our lives.

In an original style befitting his search for a new mode of thought, Nancy offers fragmentary readings of writers such as Nietzsche, Hegel, Marx, Lévinas, Lacan, Derrida, and Deleuze insofar as their work reflects his concern with sense and the world. Rather than celebrate or bemoan the loss of meaning or attempt to install a new one, his book seeks to reposition both sense and the world between the presence and absence of meaning, between objectivity and subjectivity. Nancy’s project entails a reconception of the field of philosophy itself, a rearticulation of philosophical practice. Neither recondite nor abstract, it is concerned with the existence and experience of freedom-the actuality of existence as experienced by contemporary communities of citizens, readers, and writers.

Combining aesthetic, political, and philosophical considerations to convey a sense of the world between meaning and reality, ideal content and material form, this book offers a new way of understanding-and responding to-“the end of the world.”

Jean-Luc Nancy teaches at the University of Human Sciences in Strasbourg. His books in English include The Literary Absolute (with Philip Lacoue-Labarthe, 1988), The Inoperative Community (Minnesota, 1991), The Birth to Presence (1993), The Experience of Freedom (1993), and The Muses (1996).

Jeffrey S. Librett is associate professor of modern languages and literatures at Loyola University of Chicago.

The Sense of the World

Jean-Luc Nancy is one of France's foremost philosophers....The Sense of the World is an altogether necessary and fascinating work, crucially timed for the end of the millennium, with its attendant obsessions. Nancy begins by explaining philosophically the experience of "the end of the world." -We appear to know and affirm that the world is coming to some sort of end, but we cannot say in what sense. Indeed, the question of sense informs our understanding of "world." -In the main, Nancy is exploring the contemporary crisis of meaning around which so much debate has been organized in the last two decades. Yet his discussion is not merely abstract or held tightly to some recondite philosophical program. His concern, as in all of his recent works, is with existence and the experience of freedo

the actuality of existence as it is lived and experienced by the contemporary communities of citizens, readers, writers, idlers, etc. In this regard his aim is always political, active and stimulating.

“This admirably rigorous and original book presents a new and comprehensive ‘sense of the world.’ Nancy argues that ‘sense’ and ‘world,’ in our situation, in which traditional notions of sense have been devalued, must be seen as between ‘myth’ and ‘nihilism,’ that is, between spurious returns to some absolute and a yielding to the abyss of nothingness. What that new ‘transimmanent’ sense of the world must be is argued brilliantly in a series of sections on space,time, materiality, art, politics, responsibility. The Sense of the World, as befits its subject, is neither dialectical nor causal, but mosaic-like or fractal. Each section in a different way miniturizes the whole. A major work, a culmination at this point of Nancy's distinguished career as a thinker.” J. Hillis Miller, University of California, Irvine

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