Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Ethics And The Problem Of Contingency, Ed. Thomas Claviez and Viola Marchi, Fordham University Press (2021)
Foreword by Alain Badiou
Contributor(s): Étienne Balibar, Rosi Braidotti, Thomas Claviez, Drucilla Cornell, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Viola Marchi, Michael Naas, Cary Wolfe and Slavoj Žižek

More than a purely philosophical problem, straddling the ambivalent terrain between necessity and impossibility, contingency has become the very horizon of everyday life. Often used as a synonym for the precariousness of working conditions under neoliberalism, for the unknown threats posed by terrorism, or for the uncertain future of the planet itself, contingency needs to be calculated and controlled in the name of the protection of life.

The overcoming of contingency is not only called upon to justify questionable mechanisms of political control; it serves as a central legitimating factor for Enlightenment itself. In this volume, nine major philosophers and theorists address a range of questions around contingency and moral philosophy. How can we rethink contingency in its creative aspects, outside the dominant rhetoric of risk and dangerous exposure? What is the status of contingency—as the unnecessary and law-defying—in or for ethics? What would an alternative “ethics of contingency”—one that does not simply attempt to sublate it out of existence—look like?

The volume tackles the problem contingency has always posed to both ethical theory and dialectics: that of difference itself, in the difficult mediation between the particular and the universal, same and other, the contingent singularity of the event and the necessary generality of the norms and laws.

From deconstruction to feminism to ecological thought, some of today’s most influential thinkers reshape many of the most debated concepts in moral philosophy: difference, agency, community, and life itself.

Foreword: Ethics and Contingency
Alain Badiou | ix

Introduction” Throwing the Moral Dice: Ethics 2.0, Contingency, and Dialectics
Thomas Claviez and Viola Marchi | 1

I Throwing the Moral Dice: Ethics and/of Contingency

Three Notes on Contingency Today: Stress, Science—and Consolation from the Past?
Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht | 33

Cosmopolitan Ethics as an Ethics of Contingency: Toward a Metonymic Community
Thomas Claviez | 45

Dumb Luck: Jacques Derrida and the Problem of Contingency
Michael Naas | 69

The Apophatic Community: Ethics, Contingency, Negation
Viola Marchi | 94

II Other Others: Ethics 2.0 and the Problem of the “Unsynthesizable”

Commonality versus Individuality: An Ethical Dilemma?
Étienne Balibar | 127

Critique, Power, and the Ethics of Affirmation
Rosi Braidotti | 145

The Promise of Practical Philosophy and Institutional Innovation
Drucilla Cornell | 162

Ethics of Circular Time
Slavoj Žižek | 182

The Road Not Taken: Environmental Ethics, Reciprocity, and Non-Negative Nonagency
Thomas Claviez | 206

“There Is No World”: Living Life in Deconstruction and Theoretical Biology
Cary Wolfe | 229

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