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The arrival of mimesis and methexis in the enquiries of Jean-Luc Nancy

Aldridge, Nicholas Iain (2014) The arrival of mimesis and methexis in the enquiries of Jean-Luc Nancy. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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This thesis advances from the conjecture that Jean-Luc Nancy's work demands to be interpreted according to the logic it describes. For Nancy unity is irreducible from exposure, because a distinct entity cannot be abstracted from its boundary conditions. It is my contention, therefore, that Nancy's work must be treated accordingly, as a syntactic unity that can only be understood in its exposure to other syntactic unities. Two interrelated claims are therefore made. First: that the current literature on Nancy’s work fails to identify that an inheritance from Plato and from Greek philosophy more widely is a key to the specificity of Nancy’s thinking, and second that only by retrieving this connection can Nancy’s contribution to contemporary ontological debates be made out. The thesis attempts to take a preliminary step in this direction by positioning Nancy’s work within a contemporary philosophical scene definitively characterised by its exposure to Ancient Greek philosophy. This investigation places a conceptual focus on the Platonic terms μίμησις and μέθεξις, terms which bear a rich history of implications in philosophies of immanence, transcendence, production, and art. I argue that in showing that there is never μίμησις without μέθεξις, and vice versa, Nancy shows that there is never immanence without transcendence, and vice versa. Furthermore, I argue that this mutuality places sensibility at the core of Nancy’s thought, and determines the artwork to be a privileged site at which the reciprocity of immanence and transcendence is presented. In this much, I suggest Nancy’s work offers an alternative to the demand for some mutually exclusive decision between immanence and transcendence.

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