Georges Bataille and a Materialist Ethics of Experience Open Access

Ryder, Andrew (2010)

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Georges Bataille and a Materialist Ethics of Experience

By Andrew Ryder
We have seen, in recent decades, a renewed attention to ethics in the humanities.
This ethical turn has taken its bearings, in large part, from the emphasis on alterity in the
work of Emmanuel Levinas. An unsettling face-to-face encounter that cannot be
adequately anticipated by subjectivity or knowledge has become a paradigmatic outlook,
one that demands an utmost rigor and responsibility, a refusal to disregard the necessarily
foreign character of an object of study in favor of a devouring assimilation to the known.
It is this perspective that we find championed in literary studies as much as in any
discipline: The ineffaceable singularity of the literary object must overcome any pre-
established strategy of reading. This demand for responsibility, the exigency of a
commitment to preserve alterity, can always be suspected of slipping into an ultimately
patronizing and weakened "respect for difference." It is the contention of this thesis that
in order to avoid this charge, it is necessary to insist that if it is Levinas we have to thank
for an "ethical turn" in contemporary thought, it is no less the work of Georges Bataille
that is indispensable to an inquiry into radical ethics.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction: The Ethical Turn Is Not Yet Material: On the Necessity of Georges Bataille

1. Ethics and Literature
2. A Peculiar Materialism
3. De Man and Bataille
4. De Man and Marx
5. Metonymy and Ideology
6. De Man's Performative Marxism and Formal Materialism
7. De Man and Historical Materialism
8. Derrida: Ideology and Materialism
9. Justice and Materialist Ethics
10. Experience
11. Heidegger's Destruktion of Experience
12. Erfahrung and Erlebnis
13. Justice and the Experience of the Impossible
14. Bataille: Early and Late
15. Chapter Abstracts
II. Death and Language: Heidegger, Kojève, Bataille
16. Introduction
17. Kojève and the French Reception of Hegel
2a. Death
2b. The Human Subject
2c. The Terror

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