a multilingual and transdisciplinary journal


#01 Aux limites de l'essentialisme ?

Roberto Bein

Este artículo intenta mostrar que la política argentina de enseñanza de lenguas, incluida la actual, está muy condicionada por la voluntad de ser un país europeo en América Latina, a pesar de la instauración constitucional de la educación intercultural bilingüe, la cooficialización de lenguas indígenas en algunas provincias y la oferta obligatoria de portugués en la escuela secundaria como manera de construir una ciudadanía sudamericana.  Para ello pasa revisión histórica a las distintas políticas lingüísticas, en especial con relación a las lenguas extranjeras, y analiza a continuación la situación actual.

Lewis R. Gordon

This article offers a critique of the notion that essence must entail essentialism. The author argues that this presumption depends on an appeal to a metaphysics in which things stand outside of relations with the rest of reality. Offering a relational metaphysics and a phenomenological model of ontological suspension, the author argues that a form of essence without essentialism could be deployed in the human sciences to analyze, among other things, tendencies to treat certain human communities as problems in themselves.

François Cusset

By an historical return to the emerging conditions of the essentialism/anti-essentialism debate, this article suggests that essentialism be thought of as the invention of a stigmatizing term. It defends the idea that the debate opposing the two terms is complicated by a strategic use of essentialism. Because the dualism through which essentialism and anti-essentialism are opposed is henceforth out of date, it is necessary to rethink these terms by taking into account “the social force.”

Cécile Roudeau

Distributing the sensible, lines are both essential for conceptualization and implicated in the diktats of paradigmatic definitions. While they introduce the possibility of meaning by making it possible to order the world, they also jeopardize the freedom of what Barthes calls the neuter, summoning the compartmentalization of the common into sexes, races, species, and nations. Are lines, then, a necessary evil?

Taking the 1850s as its starting point, this article argues that the decade inaugurated by the compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Law radically questioned the agency of the line, its legitimacy and efficiency in stabilizing categories. In law as in literature, in natural history as in political debates, lines were passionately defended and challenged. Each of the authors considered here (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Susan Cooper, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton) bet on the line and speculated on its agency – displacing it and sometimes even flirting with the desire to do away with it. But dismissing the line altogether also resulted in the erasure of those to whom the line gave a paradoxical visibility “beyond the pale”. The line was not, then – and cannot be – the preserve of essentialism. This article offers a reconsideration of the line as the condition of the political. At the junction of poetics and politics, the line is the ever shifting place where categories rise and fall, where the partition between the visible and the invisible is ever challenged.

Frédéric Pouillaude

Is a philosophical attempt to define art necessarily “essentialist”? Does such an approach posit that there is such a thing as an “essence of art”? To respond to this question, I will first distinguish between two forms of essentialism: an essentialism of content that regards art as a set of well-defined and sufficient properties which philosophy must reveal; and an essentialism of status which is content with asserting the relative stability bestowed on objects by its own definition. I will then examine the links between these two forms of essentialism and several definitions of art. After showing the various limitations of previous attempts at philosophical definitions of art, I propose to bring back the notion of essence by envisioning it not as a philosophical tool or content but rather as a form of negativity and as an intra-artistic driving force.

Alfonso M. Iacono

Partant de la définition kantienne de la minorité, telle qu'elle est énoncée dans « Qu'est-ce que les Lumières », Alfonso M. Iacono trace un chemin qui, en passant par Adorno-Horkheimer, Kafka, Foucault, Weber, Trasymaque et Robinson Crusoé nous mène à la notion plus dense d'autonomie. Pour dépasser la focalisation kantienne sur la notion de volonté individuelle qui, au XXème s., après le marxisme et la psychanalyse, entre autres, n'est plus satisfaisante, Iacono fait sienne la suggestion de Kafka d'interroger le lien social entre la question de la volonté individuelle et la peur de sortir de la minorité, pointant ainsi cet « aspect anti-démocratique d'une démocratie » qui « consiste à offrir et produire des simulacres d'autonomie ».

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