Politics of Security: Towards a Political Philosophy of Continental Thought

By Michael Dillon | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

The political and the tragic

A mimesis opens the fiction of tone. It is the tragedy of ‘Come’ though it must be repeatable (a priori repeated in itself) in order to resonate.

(Jacques Derrida, The Ends of Man)

A philosophy of the limit provokes a questioning of the political at the limit not only of the mortality that human beings are, but also of both the thinking and the (inter)national politics to which we are now heirs. Given the dangers of our time, a philosophy of the limit brings the question of the limit—of both life and thinking, of the thinking life that we are—into question in a way which offers the prospect of opening-up thinking to some consideration of a non-eschatological response to the limit condition which delimits us; and thus to some continuing prospect of a future in which we might continue to live, love and think.

One way or another—including even those who in their way turn to ‘God’ 1 —philosophers of the limit have ensured that political thought can no longer turn to, or turn upon, metaphysics because it has lost its recourse to a transcendent omnipotent deity who grants man politics as an integral part of His plan of salvation, or a coherent Logos guaranteeing human reason. Political thought in the aftermath of the recovery of the question of Being—political thought thought in appreciation of the ontological difference—is political thought after the demise of metaphysics. 2 And that is political thought caught within tradition between tradition and a new beginning. 3 The impossibility of metaphysical foundations is now the starting point for political thought. In this sense, too, not only is it not nihilistic thought, it is thought designed to overcome the nihilism which is immanent in metaphysics.

Is an appreciation of human mortality, then, stripped of the metaphysical comforts of a transcendent being or the representative-calculative thought which goes by the name of rationality, capable of effecting a transformation of human being? Is an ethos which is nothing ethical, and, therefore, more than moral excuses, derivable from the shock of mortality alone? How might mortality bind human being to its freedom? How might the experience of mortality govern one’s relations with others and Otherness? Can a sensibility of mortality give rise to a human solidarity which is not premised upon the supercession of difference which

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Politics of Security: Towards a Political Philosophy of Continental Thought
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Security, Philosophy and Politics 12
  • Chapter 2 - Radical Hermeneutical Phenomenology 36
  • Chapter 3 - The Topos of Encounter 79
  • Chapter 4 - Interlude 113
  • Chapter 5 - The Political and the Tragic 129
  • Chapter 6 162
  • Notes 205
  • Bibliography 237
  • Index 245
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