|Department of Philosophy ||
Department of PhilosophyOffice Hours Fall 2016
2-65 Assiniboia HallMondays 1-3 pm or by appointment
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB T6G 2E7
My area of research is 20th-century continental philosophy. My primary focus is “post-structuralism” and “post-phenomenology” (Derrida, Levinas, Blanchot, Lyotard, Nancy) but I also have interests in existentialism and phenomenology (Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre). My doctoral research has dealt with questions of alterity, selfhood and community. My next research project sought to expand the problem of human relations toward questions of world and globalization. While working on this project, I have become more and more interested in the possibility of thinking emancipation and social justice in spatial/worldly terms rather than temporal/historical ones. I put this project on hold in 2011 to write an introduction to Jean-Luc Nancy's work for Polity Press. I am currently expanding on this research and working on an extensive comparative study of Merleau-Ponty and Nancy. Ultimately, I hope to be able to bring my interpretation of both thinkers to bear on the realism/idealism debate reopened by the specualtive turn. I have been awarded a SSHRC Insight Grant to complete this project.
PHIL 492/592: Topics in Phenomenology: Self and Other
PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy: Values and Society
PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy: Values and Society, Supersection
PHIL 291 Existentialism
PHIL 392 Topics in Recent Continental
PHIL 481 Fall 2008: Topics in Philosophy and Literature
PHIL 481 Fall 2007: Topics in Philosophy and Literature
PHIL 448/547 Winter 2016: Being and Time
PHIL 448/547 Winter 2013: Merleau-Ponty
PHIL 448/547 Winter 2012: Phenomenology
PHIL 448/547 Winter 2011: Heidegger and Politics
PHIL 448/547 Fall 2010: Jean-Luc Nancy
PHIL 448/547 Fall 2009: Basic Problems of Phenomenology
PHIL 448/547 Winter 2009: Husserl and Derrida
Upcoming Conferences and Invited Lectures
"Merleau-Ponty, Speculative Realism, and the 'Outside'",
Merleau-Ponty Circle, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, September 2016
Canadian Society for Continental Philosophy Annual Congress, University of King’s College, Halifax, NS, October 2016
I have one forthcoming article: "Corps propre or corpus corporum: Unity and Dislocation in the Theories of Embodiment of Merleau-Ponty and Jean-Luc Nancy", to appear in Chiasmi International, Volume 18.
I have recently published: "Worlds Apart: Conversations Between Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy", in Derrida Today, Volume 9 Issue 2, and
"How Do We Live Here? Abyssal Intimacies in Jean-Luc Nancy's La ville au loin", in Parrhesia, Issue 25, and available in open access.
I am the translator of Jean-Luc Nancy's Ego Sum: Corpus, Anima, Fabula, published by Fordham University Press.
I am also editing a collection of essays, Continental Realism and Its Discontents, which will be published by Edinburgh University Press in the series New Perspectives in Ontology in Summer 2017.
I have written an introduction to Jean-Luc Nancy's work for Polity's Key Contemporary Thinkers series. It is available here.
You can also have a look at My full CV
My doctoral research has dealt with the questions of alterity and community in contemporary French philosophy. My dissertation is an attempt to provide a phenomenological description that renders concrete the inherently paradoxical notion of a community of singularities, by means of the conceptual tools furnished by those two thinkers. The goal is to see what type of community is left for a philosophy that accentuates the singularity and absolute alterity of the other. To develop such a concept of community, I argue that it is not merely interesting but in every way necessary to read Derrida and Nancy alongside each other. Derrida, by putting into question the genealogical bonds inherent in the very notion of community, serves to frame the question, to which Nancy’s work can be read as a response. This dialogue can also be inversed. Derrida himself gives hints towards a new concept of community in his work on testimony, translation and the poem. Likewise, Nancy’s concept of community itself implicitly interrupts the genealogical bond, as is evident in his work on the interruption of the myth and the spatiality of exposition.
After my dissertation, my research turned, as an extension of my work on community, to the broader questions of world and globalization. My next research project situates itself at the intersection of the question of globalization (“what is happening with the world today?”) and the question of the ontology of the world (“what is the world?”). Two questions guided my research: (1) Should the “global world” be thought as uniformity (where the globe replaces the Ancient cosmos) or as fragmentation? (2) Is it possible (and desirable) to think of emancipation and of justice along spatial/worldy lines rather than temporal/historical ones? This led me to study Bruno Latour’s cosmo-politics, Peter Sloterdijk’s theory of spheres and history of globalization, Jean-François Lyotard’s idea of postmodernity and its relation to fluidity and capitalism, as well as recent discourses on the overcoming of postmodernity. I have also turned to Derrida’s concepts of differance as space-time and of the to-come (à-venir) as the spacing of time to develop of more complex understanding of space and time, and hence of world and history.
My current research project consists in a comparative study of three different areas of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jean-Luc Nancy works:
(1) Their respective reading of Descartes
I think that both propose a circular reading of the Meditations where the body-soul union of Descartes’ Sixth Meditation is not the last step in the reconstruction of the edifice of knowledge, but the experience that underlies meditation and doubt, and to which the meditator returns, in order to live in it, “after having explored it methodologically” (Visible and Invisible, March 1961). Both also propose a circular reading of the Meditations and insist on the factical event of reflection rather than on the discovery of a thinking thing, discovery that could not explain why I sense and perceive, why I am, as Nancy says in Ego sum, “more than that by which I am what I am,” that is, more than pure thought. At the same time, Nancy insists less on the ontological status of the union and more on its performative nature, on the gapping void (the mouth) out of which the utterance "I exist" arises.
(2) Their description of embodied existence.
Both Nancy and Merleau-Ponty emphasize a certain irreducible obscurity that is constitutive of the lived body and renders it resistant to reflective analysis. At the same time, my hypothesis is that this opacity plays a different role in their respective thinking. The question is whether the detour through exteriority that is necessary for touching or sensing is sublated into a higher interiority or not. It seems at least plausible to say that it is for Merleau-Ponty, but not for Nancy. Indeed, in The Phenomenology of Perception, erleau-Ponty emphasizes the synthesis of one’s own body, the synthesis of senses in synaesthesia, etc. while Nancy speaks of the body as partes extra partes (a Cartesian notion Merleau-Ponty explicitly rejects), the dislocation of the body proper in heterogeneous zones, etc.
(3) Their ontology of sense: Being as flesh of as exposition.
For both Nancy and Merleau-Ponty, sense-making happens as differentiation, a differentiation Nancy thinkss as being-turned-inside-out, as exposition or exscription, while Merleau-Ponty thinks it as reversibility or chiasm, as encroaching or promiscuity. For both, there is an essential spacing (écart) at the heart of Being but, as it was the case above, we must ask whether this écart is a function of a higher One (the Flesh) or whether it rends Being irrevocably.
Ultimately, I want to underline the ways in which Merleau-Ponty’s and Nancy’s ontology thinks the exteriority and materiality of what exists and hence develop an alternative ontology between speculative realism and correlationism that has the potential of bringing both into a fruitful dialogue