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Jean-Luc Nancy and the Political Atheology of the Body

By: Almudena Molina  

In this article, I examine the thinking Jean-Luc Nancy about the body, focusing on the metaphor of the body politics, which Nancy manifests against and aims to deactivate it. This metaphor refers traditionally to the political aggrupation as a totality. In fact, this metaphor may be found in political theorists such as Hobbes or Hegel. Furthermore, in the light of the work of Ernst Kantorowicz The King’s two bodies, this traditional metaphorical sense is associated with a theological-political foundation. However, the thinking of the relationship between body and power in the 20th Century Philosophy breaks with this interpretation. By addressing the body politics metaphor on Nancy, the present paper reflects on the rupture with the traditional sense of the metaphor. Nancy claims against such metaphorical value by arguing that, eventually, it involves a totalitarian vision of the political sphere. Attempting to grasp the topic, this article first examines the foundations and the specific use of the traditional sense of the body politics metaphor; then, it looks at the new sense that Nancy grants to this metaphor: the "atheology" of the body. In this regard, this paper argues that, although Nancy grants to the body politics metaphor a new sense, he finally develops a metaphorical and abstract sense of the body to symbolize the relationships of power in the society without losing an (a)theological foundation. In doing so, Nancy does not eliminate the body politics metaphor, but he rather displays a new unexplored use of it.

Jean-Luc Nancy, Body, Power, Political Theology, Atheology
The Politics of Religion
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session



Almudena Molina

Master student, Philosophy, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
United Kingdom