Nancy’s Thinking of the Event

In: Research in Phenomenology
François Raffoul Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA USA

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Jen-Luc Nancy’s thinking of the event stems from his understanding of being as based on no principle, ground or essence. Nothing preexists the event of being, no principle, arche or prior substance. With such a statement, a thinking of the event emerges: not preceded by any principle or ground, being is nothing but the event of itself. In turn, the event is no longer anchored in a principle that itself would not be happening. Thus, preceded by nothing and grounded in no essence, the event of being can only come as a surprise. The event is always the bringing forth of the unprecedented: the event always comes as a surprise. I first show how Nancy thinks the event from the very motif of the surprise, indeed claiming that an event is surprising or it is not an event. In a second part, I explore Nancy’s thinking of the event of the world, understood as creation ex nihilo. Ultimately, I show that Nancy understands the eventfulness of the event in terms of the essencelessness of existence.

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