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Nancy and Hegel: philosophies of community, singularity and relational being

Channer, Leda Richarda Walnut (2017) Nancy and Hegel: philosophies of community, singularity and relational being. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This thesis will develop the claim made by Nancy in the essay “Shattered Love” that it is possible to read Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right and The Phenomenology of Spirit, for the expositions they offer on relational being, despite, for Nancy, their dialectical structure. I will argue that for Nancy, the situations that Hegel calls Self-Consciousness and The State are better understood as Singularity and Community respectively, both of which are relations to be experienced not works to be achieved, and which furthermore are the same relation, the same situation of Being. Hegel’s project of dialectical assimilation, I will argue, can be seen therefore as one that tries to convert this problematic multiple non-presentable Being into a singular identity which does have presence. Whilst the current Nancy scholarship acknowledges Nancy’s preoccupation with Hegel’s philosophy as evidenced by Nancy’s two books on Hegel, there is at present no study in the secondary literature on Nancy’s reception of Hegel’s philosophy generally, let alone with a specific focus on community and social being. This thesis therefore will seek to offer a trajectory of Nancy’s reception of Hegel’s philosophy, covering both Nancy’s works on Hegel, The Speculative Remark and The Restlessness of the Negative and the two most well-known works specifically concerned with community and social being, The Inoperative Community and Being Singular Plural. Additionally, it will seek to positon Nancy’s reception of Hegel against a backdrop of the receptions of Marx, various French Twentieth Century receptions and also a selection of those from the Analytic tradition. In conclusion, following a reading of Nancy’s essay, “The Surprise of The Event” I argue that Hegel misses what Nancy calls the very “event-ness” of the situations of Community and Singularity with the consequence that he ends up with sundered instances or moments rather than the movement he wishes for. Finally, I will argue that Nancy’s response to the problem of trying to preserve the event-ness of event is to provoke a situation of simultaneous separation and connection, or to give it for Nancy its proper name, wonder.

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