'Cum' Revisited: Preliminaries to Thinking the Interval

L. ten Kate, J.L. Nancy, H. Oosterling (Editor), E. Ziarek (Editor)

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In the name of “the community,” humanity - in particular in 20th century Europe - has shown an unexpected capacity to destroy itself. This destruction has been quantitative - mass extermination on such a scale that the very concept of quantity and of quantification was perverted and inverted into a quality: the quality of the unquantifiable, numbers becoming innumerable, becoming absolute, infinite figures. And at the same time this autodestruction has been qualitative, for the idea and the value of “humanity” and of “human nature” itself was destroyed, and its fragile texture being torn up; precisely because of this, human singularities were reduced to numbers, quality being perverted and inverted into quantity. Nevertheless, the multiform history of the community, whether in its universal, global, or in its particular, local shape, should not be seen as some evil, disastrous deviation from the course of civilization; however stained it may have become, it is not an aberrance from normality but rather humanity’s and humanism’s less innocent, less ethereal side. One of the compelling questions of our time is whether the community is a place, a topos, of self-destruction humanity cannot avoid or eliminate. At least this presupposes that we must think the community as a “groundform” and not a side-effect of human existence. As soon as people are exposed to one another in a plurality – and what else could humanity be than precisely this reciprocal exposition of people and peoples? – “there is community”. But this fundamental form of community is not simply their product, nor their operation or “oeuvre”; it is not just the sum of individuals having something in common. It is a place where they, inadvertently, are in common, only to discover that this “in-common” cannot be controlled by them and so eludes them. Consequently, anything can happen, can take place in this strange place of the “inoperative community” (of “that” in a community which remains inoperative): peace and violence, order and disorder, cohesion and destruction.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationIntermedialities: Philosophy, Arts, Politics
PublisherLexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780739127353
ISBN (Print)9780739127353
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

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