[SydPhil] 2012 Peter Herbst Colloquium – "abandoned being" in the philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy

Alexander Karolis Alexander.Karolis at anu.edu.au
Mon Oct 22 09:28:43 AEDT 2012

2012 Peter Herbst Colloquium – "abandoned being" in the philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy

22nd November 2012
Sir Roland Wilson Building
Seminar room 1 - 3.02

Australian National University, Canberra, ACT

The School of Philosophy, Research School of Social Science, Australian National University, is pleased to announce a day long colloquium to engage with the implications of Jean-Luc Nancy’s notion of “abandoned being”.

The colloquium is held under the auspices of the Peter Herbst bequest.



Jean-Luc Nancy, in his essay entitled Abandoned Being, writes that “We do not know it, we cannot really know it, but abandoned being has already begun to constitute an inevitable condition for our thought, perhaps its only condition”. Abandonment is for Nancy the “predicament of being”, and defines the position from which the sense we make of the world must begin. It describes not simply a re-configuration of the past but a new mode of creating the future; a posture toward the future that we may perhaps read alongside the work of Catherine Malabou, and the manner in which she incorporates a sense of “speculative abrogation” within the Hegelian dialectic that enables a voir venir – “to see (what is) coming”.
In Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Giorgio Agamben draws on Nancy’s work, in order to designate abandonment as the originary relation of law to life. What the former terms the “sovereign ban” is a structure that includes life within the law through the very mechanism of its exclusion. Here, one need only think of those asylum seekers whose purported ‘exclusion’ from the national territory leaves them unremittingly exposed to the force of a sovereign authority that holds them in its grip while stripping them of legal rights. The life that is abandoned by the law, Agamben argues, is a “bare life”, subjected to the permanent threat of sovereign violence.
In the light of these modes of thought what exactly might it mean to speak of the abandonment of being? Does the manner in which Agamben takes up the notion of abandonment from Nancy realize its full potential? How do each of these thinkers rework the Heideggerian conception of abandonment (Seinsverlassenheit), which the German philosopher saw underlying nihilism and the reign of technology? Is it necessary to eschew the ontological claims of abandonment in order to reveal the violence and misery propagated by forms of law that rely upon abandonment? Or is it the case, as Agamben has argued, that abandonment is both an ontological and a political structure, indeed the point at which ontology and politics become indistinct?


The Sense of the Image: Nancy's Ontological Rehabilitation of the Image
Alison Ross (Monash University)

Souls at the Limits of the Human
Fiona Jenkins (Australian National University)

Biopolitical Being: Politics, Ontology and the Abandonment of Life
Jessica Whyte (University of Western Sydney)

The Bandit and the Ensign: Sovereignty and Secrecy in Two Early Modern Works
Charles Barbour (University of Western Sydney)

Abandonment and Plasticity: Ontological intersections in Heidegger, Nancy, and Malabou
Alexander C. Karolis (Australian National University)

“Lawlessness controls the laws.” Iphigenia’s Abandonment to the nomos in Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis
Nicolas Lema (Australian National University)


Attendance is free, however for catering purposes please register with:

Alexander.Karolis at anu.edu.au

Morning and afternoon tea will be provided.

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