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The Place of the Symbolic

Essays on Art and Politics

This book weaves together Reiner Schürmann’s work on art and politics, drawing on a range of the most important thinkers and poets of the twentieth century and beyond.

The Place of the Symbolic gathers Reiner Schürmann’s essays on the nexus of art and politics. In keeping with his translation of the destruction of metaphysics into an an-archic philosophy of practice, Schürmann develops a radical theory of the place of symbols, irreducible either to idealist theories of symbols or structuralist accounts of the symbolic. Symbols, Schürmann argues, may provide a bridge between ontological difference and politics. They resist being grasped metaphysically, in terms of representation. Instead, their understanding requires a specific way of existence: attending to the coming-to-presence of phenomena. As such, the understanding of symbols discloses a form of praxis that abandons ultimate grounds and opens onto the manifold.

Alongside Schürmann’s theory of symbols, the collection includes essays on the relation between metaphysics, tragedy, and technology; on the “there is” in poetry; as well as on judgment. Throughout these characteristically lucid interventions, Schürmann’s most urgent concern remains a consideration of singular and finite practices that enact a release from universal principles. Art and politics appear here as the unworking of ultimate grounds; that is, as practices attuned to a truly groundless form of life.


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