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2009. Epoch, Volume 14, Issue 1 (Fall 2009). ISSN 1085-1968.

Jean-Luc Nancys Concept of Body
Universidad Diego Portales
Abstract: This article carries out a systematic exposition of the concept of the body
in Jean-Luc Nancy, with all the risks of reduction that such an exposition entails. First
it is necessary to return to Western philosophys founding text on living corporality,
that is, Aristotles treatise on the soul. The oppositions that can be established between
the Greek thinkers psyche (soul) and Nancys dead Psyche are not so radical as may
at rst be thought: In both it is a question of thinking the soul as the difference, the
retreat or departure in which the exposition of bodies consists. The article continues
with an analysis of touch and the self and concludes with an elaboration of the idea of
the body within the general program of the deconstruction of Christianity.
1. Life and Death, Body and Soul:
Rethinking Aristotles Concept of psych
hen, in 1994, Jean-Luc Nancy was invited to participate in a conference on
The Body in Le Mans, the title he chose for his talk was On the Soul.

This was not a provocation, or at least not only a provocation. On the Soul is the
title of a well-known treatise by Aristotle, which precisely deals, rst and foremost,
with the body, and specically with the living body. Indeed, according to Aristotle,
the soul is the principle of living bodies,
their form or cause. Soul is the life or
the very corporality of living bodies. To speak on the soul, therefore, means, for
Nancy, to speak on the essence or on the being of body.
Body is essentially something that appears itself or exposes itself by the simple
fact of being a body, that is, by its simple weight (poids) or weightiness (pese).
Body places itself out of itself (hors de soi) and imposes its own body (fait corps).
Body consists in such an exposition. Hence soul, the being of body, will refer
to the very movement of rupture through which body imposes itself, stands as
body and places itself out of itself. With the soul, there is an effect of rupture, a
190 Juan Manuel Garrido
rupture which is body itself. . . . When I speak on the soul I just want to indicate
this: on the soul or on the body out-of-itself (C, 112113).
Soul is then the rupture or the disruption by which body comes to ap-
pearancethe disruption that a body consists in as such. Soul therefore does
not mean another body, another kind of substance, for instance a more subtle
or spiritual substance, lying behind or within the body like a pilot in his ship.
Soul is not another body, a spiritual body (C, 113). Soul does not represent
something different to body, but rather body itself out of itself, or this other that
body structurally is to itself and in itself (C, 113). Indeed, if a body essentially
is exposition, and if the movement of such an exposition is always disruptive, a
body is by denition another body (in itself and to itself). In this sense, soul is
the name of that which makes the constitutive otherness of bodies.
On account of the fact that soul is not something different to body, but the
rupture that places body out of itself, it is important to maintain at the same time
that soul is not a bodythis or that particular body. In that sense, soul essentially
differs from body, or better it is in itself the difference (and the otherness) that
makes the being (the exposition) of body. Soul is the difference of body in regard
to itself, i.e., the exterior relation that a body is to itself [le rapport de dehors quun
corps est pour lui-mme] (C, 114). Here lies the pertinence of keeping the word
soul, which a whole tradition had identied with something that basically has to
be distinguished from body. Soul has always been the name and the problem of the
difference itself between soul and body, therefore the name of any attempt to think
the problem of the being of body. In the conclusion of his talk, Nancy says:
If soul has been dealt with, if our entire tradition has spoken of soul, and in so
many ways, this is because after all, and partly in spite of this same tradition,
soul has not been thought by itself but in the difference between soul and body,
the difference in which body consists itself, for itself. (C, 127)
Nevertheless, to treat corporality under the title On the Soul, has implied,
in our tradition, weighty decisions concerning the ontological meaning of the
being of body. Indeed, as long as corporality has been thought as soulor as
the difference between soul and bodyWestern Philosophy has interpreted it
fundamentally as life. The soul, h psych, is not, indeed, the principle for bodies of
any kind but specically for living bodies. In other words, according to tradition,
body exposes itself or appears where there is lifei.e., generation, nutrition,
perception, imagination, desire, thought. . . . Nancys concept of body, inasmuch
as it takes root in such a tradition, will also be determined by this interpretation,
even when it displaces it or deconstructs it. Our rst task will be then to render
these displacements apparent.
In his treatise On the Soul, Aristotle thinks of soul as being the form of living
bodies, the matter being the potentially living body.
As form, soul is not a sub-
stance existing by itself, which would arrive and in-form an independently existing
Nancys Concept of Body 191
material substance (the body). Soul (form) is rather the living body itself (the
matter) considered in its actuality, as performing vital functions.
Soul is nothing
but the animation of animate beings (empsycha), and their specic appearing
as such animate beings, that is, what distinguishes them from this other species
of beings that we call inanimate (apsycha). Body, in its turn, is organized matter,
the suitable stuff able to perform vital functions, and it shows itself as such while
performing these activities. That is why the soul cannot come and in-form any
kind of matter, say this stone or this table, nor can it re-animate the corpse of this
man who just died. And that is why a corpse of a mani.e., precisely a body that
cannot longer perform vital functions, even while maintaining the same shape
as a living bodyis for Aristotle a mans body only in name (I will return to
this point). As I said earlier, for Aristotle there is body only insofar as there is life
(nutrition, generation, sensation, imagination, desire, etc.).
In this point, there seems to be a radical opposition to Nancys conception
of soul. As Derrida says, Aristotles Peri Psychs [On the Soul] is a treatise on the
pure life of the living. Now, Nancys Psyche sees herself treated as dead woman.

Derrida makes this statement at the conclusion of a commentary to a short text
of Nancy entitled Psyche.
This text began by quoting the last sentence of a note
written by Freud on August 22, 1938, one year before his death. It corresponds, as
Derrida says, to the last sentence of a sick mans penultimate note, which almost
looks like that of a dying man
the last note of Freud was indeed written on this
same day. Here is the sentence: Psyche is extended, knows nothing about (Psyche
ist ausgedehnt, weit nichts davon). At the end of his short text, Nancy writes:
Psyche is extended in her cofn. Soon it is going to be shut. Among those
present, some are hiding their faces, others are keeping their eyes desperately
xed on Psyches body. She knows nothing of thisand that is what everyone
knows around her, with such exact and cruel knowledge.
Treated as a corpse, lying in her cofn, Psyche is singular and not universal.
Hence we are not dealing with a simple inversion of Life into Death, but with this
particular dead body surrounded by other bodies. Soul is that body, whose pres-
ence is separated, inaccessible, otherin sum sacred, to speak like Nancy.
This same scene is found in another text, published much later, entitled On
the Threshold, where Nancy elaborates an ecphrasis and analysis of Caravag-
gios painting The Death of the Virgin.
The gravitational center of this scene is
located in the powerful presence of the corpse of the Virgin, lying on a bed and
surrounded by observers. As in the scene of Psyche, some of the observers are
hiding their faces, while others keep their eyes xed on the Virgins body. There
is a general mood of despair at the irrevocable departure of Marie. This corpse
is not, however, the presence of an absence, say the presence of the soul of
Mary, now departed. This body lies, on the contrary, totally abandoned by any
presence or absence of the soul: it lies there after having expired and before the
192 Juan Manuel Garrido
funeral, slackened in a posture not yet arranged.
It is a corpse that is yet to
be washed, and cannot yet be the object of ablutions, of mourning. This body is
nothing but its own massive and naked presence, imposing itself with its whole,
swollen, intolerable weight.
The naked presence of the dead body is naked because it does not stand
as the presence of something absent (as its sign or symbol). It does not stand,
for instance, as remains reminding us of the full presence of the Virgin now
gone, nor as the singular phenomenon of the universal idea of Death. On the
contrary, the nakedness of the body consists in referring to nothing but to its
own exposition, and thus presenting its own presenting or presentation as such.
This presence, here, is therefore the presence of presence or presence exposed
by the absence or the retreating of any other (absent) presence. When Nancy
speaks later of resurrection, it is the concept of such a presence that he has in
mind. Indeed, resurrection is not to be understood as reanimation or rebirth
to immortality, but as afrmation of death and of the peculiar mode of presence
that the dead body has. Resurrection is the appearing body as such, its surrection
or insurrection (its raising, leve) in its entire alterity and heterogeneity. Its is
presence imposed by its own weight, presence that we no longer can turn into a
sign of something else, in sum an apparition of the other and of the one who
disappears in the body itself and qua body (NMT, 29).
Body exposes itself or comes out-of-itself in the retreating of soul or as this
retreating. That is why body seems to appear eminently in death, as corpse, and
that is why Nancy characterizes it in these scenes showing dying bodies. But the
corpse is taken here as the condition of any body, it exposes the truth not only
of dead bodies but of living bodies as well:
not the dead body, but the body as dead, and there is no other. (C, 49)
During its whole life, body is at the same time a corpse, the body of someone
dead, of this dead man that I am while I live. Dead or living, neither dead
nor living, I am the open, the grave or the mouth, the one within the other.
(C, 16)
Now, Aristotles view on the soul and life of the body is perhaps, on this point,
less opposed to Nancys than one might suspect at a rst glance. Aristotles con-
cept of psych corresponds, true, to the pure life of the living, but sometimes
this pure life is thought precisely in its retreating, while abandoning body and
thus offering it as such. Even though the passage from life to death is, according
to Aristotle, a destruction, i.e., a substantial change and not only an accidental
onewhich means, as I said earlier, that a corpse of a man and all its parts, insofar
as it stops performing life functions, is a mans body only in name, as much as a
hand drawn upon a stone is a hand only in name
the corpse, at least during a
short timeright before showing itself under another form, while it still shows
Nancys Concept of Body 193
the shape (schma) of a living body, in sum: when it is no so clear to see if it is
alive or notshows itself as such, as the matter or the stuff itself of the liv-
ing body (esh and bone), or better as the dead matter that body essentially
is during its whole life.
If soul is understood, as in Aristotle, as the pure life of the living, then pure life
means life in its departure, as retreating from the living. One must not forget that in
On the Soul, Aristotle was not concerned with just any kind of life, for instance the
life of heavenly beings, but specically with the life of those beings that may pass
away, life as it occurs in mortals (en tois thntois).
The life of heavenly bodies,
on the contrary, would be beyond life and death, since it is higher than the life of
men, plants or animals. On the Soul is concerned with things that perish, at least
numerically or individuallysince qua species they are eternal. We can even say
that life as such (pure life) is to be dened through its difference in regard to
death: living is what distinguishes the animate from the inanimate (diristhai to
empsychon tou apsychou ti zn).
This eventually means that body, or the being
of body, is in itself the presentation of the difference between life and death.
In close relation to this, we can quote again a passage from Nancys text about
Caravaggios The Death of the Virgin, in which he writes about the relationship
between life and death by describing the bodies of the two women, the dead Virgin
and the sad grieving Mary:
They hold each other, answer to each other, the one thrown back and the other
thrown forward, the one showing her face, the other her back, linked by a
whiteness of cloth, from the sheet to the bodice, from the shroud to the shift.
. . . They answer each other across the two shores of death, and between them
there is not death itself; there is nothing but light and the thin line of shadow
that runs along the edges of bodies, the folds of the linen and the clothes. The
one and the other woman, before beyond death. Neither life nor another life,
but brightness of their alternate presences, from the breast of the one to the
shoulder of the other, from the inside of the one to the outside of the other.
. . . Death: we are never there, we are always there. Inside and outside, at once,
but without communication between inside and outside, without mixture,
without mediation, and without crossing. (M, 60)
Let us conclude, then, the rst part of this paper by saying that soul is the dif-
ference life/death that exposes bodies. Soul is not the ontic or specic difference
between animate/inanimate, but the difference animate/inanimate embodied as
such in the exposition of bodies: the departure that makes the nakedness and
the weight of bodies, the ex- of their exposition. Life, the pure life in which
soul consists, is thus interpreted by Nancy in existential [or ex-istential] sense.

The psycho-logy of body is properly speaking ontology of body, and the ontology
of body, inasmuch as it deals with the pure exposition of existence, is ontology
as such. Body
194 Juan Manuel Garrido
exposes that the essence of existence is to have no essence. That is why the
ontology of body is the ontology itself: being is in no way something previous
and underlying phenomena. Body is the being of existence. How could we take
death more seriously? And how could we say that existence is not for death,
but that death is the body of existence? There is no such thing as Death,
as an essence we were devoted to. There is body, the mortal spacing of body,
inscribing that existence has no essence (not even death), but only ex-ists.
(C, 1617)
2. Touching: Corpus Singular Plural
Each body is limited by contact [haphi] with the neighboring
part, so that in a sense each of such bodies is many.
A body is essentially something singular.
Think one more time about the corpse
of the Virgin, I mean, that singular and unrepeatable corpse of Caravaggios
painting: it is rm, whole, intact in its abandonment (M, 59), surrounded by
other bodies despairing of not having an access to itand surrounded by us,
bodies observing the painting. Now, the singularity of body touches us with this
very inaccessibility. It touches our nitude with its own nitude. Touching, as
we will see in more detail, is rst and foremost the sharing of nitude. In this
sense a body is always another bodythe body of the other
whose intimate
otherness is necessarily given with the otherness of my own body. Any singular
body, qua singular, shares then in singularity with every body. For that reason,
body, living or dead, goes along with a plural exposition of singular bodies. In
this sense soul, the ex-position of bodies, is corpus singular plural: not this or
that particular body but their co-appearing, their spacing, the among itself in
which they appear.
How is the singularity of bodies produced? How is it formed? If body is es-
sentially singular and therefore essentially distinct from any other singular body,
singularity takes place as de-limitation of bodies. Singularity as such is formed at
the limit, by the limit and as limit. It is in order to describe how this de-limitation
of bodies takes place that Nancy speaks of touching. Indeed, for a limit to appear
qua limit, something has to be touched rather than seen or heard. A limit
essentially is that we are in touch with. Even when we see or hear the limit, we
actually touch it with our vision or hearing.
In this sense, limit is always experienced in absolute proximity. But what is
absolutely close, adjacent or contiguous in touching is precisely the other body, and
therefore its inaccessibility or impenetrability: in sum, its distance. The separation
and distinction of the other body appear in the experience of inaccessibility, and
this experience can only take place in absolute proximity. Touch is therefore the
Nancys Concept of Body 195
absolute proximity of absolute distance: the very distinction of bodies. Touch is
proximate distance, it makes us feel the proximity of the distant, the approxima-
tion of the intimate (M, 17). And this approximation or contact of distance may
occur at physical or ontic distance, as when our eyes touch,
or when we watch
a dancing body
or when we read, or think a thought.
Touching means to be outside of what is touched upon, and touching touches
nothing but this outsideotherwise there would not be any touch at all. Even
when I touch myself, or even when I sense myself touching (or in general sens-
ing); even in the most intimate of feelings like joy or anxiety, there is separation
and distinction. As long as there is sensing (touching), there is ex-position, and
therefore I become inaccessible to myself. It occurs as when an internal organ
of my body, say the heart, is sensed: it becomes another body, an intruder in
my body, producing an outside or a distinction within me. And precisely because
I am for myself the closest to myself, precisely because I cannot sense anything
without sensing me, it is with myself that I experience more radically and more
constantly the absolute distance of touching.
It is not surprising that Nancys concept of touch, as Derrida shows with ac-
curacy, does not lead to the dimension of the phenomenological proper body
(corps propre). On the contrary it interrupts itwith the interruption that touch-
ing is in itself. Quoting Derrida, Nancy explains that touch is this interruption,
which constitutes the touch of the self-touching, touch as self-touching. Touch is
the interval and the heterogeneity of touch (M, 17). This means that the reexive
dimension of to sense oneself sensing (se sentir sentir), because it is structured
as touching, does not perform the self-appropriation of the pure living of esh,
intimately related to itself in reection, but rather exhibits its radical inappropri-
ablility, the very impossibility of being all one with itself. Touching is to lose the
proper at the moment of touching, says Derrida again,
and, in the conference
On the soul, Nancy explains:
There are well-known analyses of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty on this issue
concerning touching oneself, the touching themselves of my own hands. Cu-
riously, and this is something constant in the whole tradition, everything turns
into interiority. The phenomenological analyses of touching oneself refers
to a prior interiority. But this is not possible: I touch myself through my skin.
I touch myself from outside, I cannot touch myself from inside. (C, 117)
Now, if whenever I touch something or myself, I precisely have the experience
of inaccessibility, of distance; if whenever I touch, I touch the outside of things
or of myself; then touching simultaneously means to be touched upon by what
is touched on. Each time, what I touch is only the following: that I am being
touched upon by what I touch on. To touch the outside of something (or myself)
simultaneously means that this outside touches us. It is not possible to decide
which term is here the agent and which the patient. The object of touching
196 Juan Manuel Garrido
is the subject, and vice versa. Nancy often speaks in this sense of a passive
transitivity (SW, 61).
What touches is not some agent or some patient, nor some agent being the
patient for itself, but touching itself, or the outside itself, in sum the limit that
touches both agent and patient. That is the reason why Nancy sometimes prefers
to speak of the touch (la touche) instead of touching (le toucher): this empha-
sizes the very event of contact, which makes the constitutive heterogeneity that
touching is for itself. Touching occurs when the touch occurs, when the limit,
and only the limit, touches, being in itself, qua limit, something untouchable (in
the sense of inappropriable, inapprehensible, unperceivable, inorganizable,
whether as subject or object of touching).
Insofar as there is no agent or patient of touching, but only the limit (the
touch), it is not pertinent to speak of a sense-organ of touching. Even esh is
rst and foremost exposed to the outside of things and to itself. Flesh does not seize,
perceive, apprehend or organize anythingnor is it organized (instrumentalized)
by any kind of perception. Flesh, no more nor less than any other sense-organ,
can only sense limit. Hence eshor any other sense-organis constitutively
skin, if by skin we understand the principle of extension and exposition of bodies
rather than, again, some kind of functional tool for perception. Between me and
the world and between me and myself, there is this impenetrable surface that
exposes (expeause, Nancy sometimes writes) both me and things of the world.
Even the supreme organ or the sense of senses that Aristotle thinks to be the
sense sensing oneself sensing oneself in intimate reection (if we indulge
in an easy reading of Aristotles concept of common sense), is, in truth, skin.
Skin is the name of what takes place (or se peause, if I may use articial French,
following Nancy) at the limit and qua limit.
The body, the skin: everything else is anatomical, physiological or medical
literature. Muscles, sinews, nerves and bones, humors, glands and organs are
cognitive ctions. They are functionalist formalisms. The truth is the skin.
It stands in skin, as skin: authentic extension exposed, both entirely turned
toward the outside and envelope of the inside, of that bag bursting with odors
and borborygms. Skin touches and is touched upon. (C, 160)
It is needless to insist that there cannot be transcendental conditions, or any
condition in general, for touching. Nothing can dispose, constitute, determine or
rule a priori the possibility of touching. Once again, touching is neither the action
of an agent nor the passion of a patient, but the event of the limit, of the exten-
sion, of skin. In other words, touching is not of the order of what Kant would
have called experience. Here there are no a priori forms of intuition, nor table
of categories. The transcendental lies in the indenite and spacious [spacieuse]
modication and modulation of skin (C, 16). Touching, as touch of the limit, is
in itself something un-conditioned. Not only does the empirical realm coincide
Nancys Concept of Body 197
with the transcendental (at the limit, indeed, skin and space are both at once a
priori and a posteriori), but the event of touching is in itself the condition or the
archi-condition for both the empirical and the transcendental. Rather than
being conditioned by the pure forms of intuition and thought, then, touching
is the unconditioned formation of the pure forms themselves of intuition and
Touchingthe touch of the limitis the ex-positionor expeausition
of bodies, that is, what we have shown to be for Nancy the soul. In Aristotle,
the sense of touch designates the fundamental modality of sensation, which is
ultimately the fundamental modality of life in animals. In the same way that the
living body in general is dened as having the capacity of being its own agent of
growth, which is the function of the nutritive soul (h threptik psych), animals
are specically distinguished from the other living beings by sensation, which
is the function of the sensitive soul (h aisthtike psych). Now, among the dif-
ferent modalities of the sensitive soul in animals, the one that cannot be absent,
according to Aristotle, is touch.
Without touch animals would not even be able
to nourish themselves.
In Nancy, touch is the fundamental modality of soul in a quite different way.
Above all, as we have seen, touch is not sensation, be it described as perception
(apprehension, identication, organization, instrumentalization, appropriation,
etc.) or as an activity performed with a view to self-nutrition, self-growing, self-
generation, etc. In addition, given the fact that, for Nancy, the ex-position of bodies
is precisely not interpreted as pure lifebut rather as the retreating of life or as
the difference between life and deathtouch is not privative of animate beings,
and this means that it is to be situated at a pre-vegetative stage! In The Sense of
the World, Nancy analyzes touch in relation to Heideggers thesis concerning the
worldlessness of stones.
Since stones do not dwell in the worldnot even
poorly, as animals dothey cannot seize, identify or perceive anything within
it. No world surrounds stones. They have no relation with other bodies, they are
not open to them. Of a stone that we encounter in the way, Heidegger explains,
we would not say that it touches the ground, as we would not say of the chair
against the door that it touches it, unless of course we are speaking metaphori-
The stone is in contact with the ground, but it does not touch the ground.
The stone does not encounter the ground as I encounter the stone: it does not
identify or apprehend the ground.
Now, although the stone does not touch (betastet) the groundin the way
my hand touches the head of a child or a lizard touches the stone upon which it
lies during a sunbaththe stone is still in touch with (elle touche ) the ground
in passive transitivity: out of itself in touch with the impenetrable ground that
cannot be apprehended but which offers back the surface that de-limits the stone.
To touch is not to reach (reichen) nor to possess (besitzen) things. To touch is not
198 Juan Manuel Garrido
habitation (habere, habitare). To touch is nothing but the event of surface, or rather
of the network of surfaces that constitutes the world in its innite disclosure: stone
against ground, trees against trees, earth against heaven, one thing with another,
each on the border of the other, at the entrance yet not entering, before and against
the singular signature exposed on the threshold (SW, 60).
Touching is thus much
less being in the world than the being singular plural of world itself.
Bodies are exposed or formed as bodies in touching. But touching means pre-
cisely that the formation of bodies does not depend on an agent, by itself subsistent
(another body, physical or spiritual), that would come to embody or to in-form
matter. On the other hand, bodies are not agents of their own formationthey are
not autopoietic substances. Touching means that bodies do not form themselves
except insofar as they are in touch with other bodies. Their selves are formed by
the other, at the other, with the other, through the other. Touchingourselves or
othersis the event that ex-poses self out of itself and out of the regime of self-
hood in general. We should not even speak of the self as something subsisting
before being subjected to the other. Neither self nor other (I mean, another
self ), but one with another, touching reveals that self is in itself and by itself a
remission to the other/to itself. This relation is not an accident that would oc-
cur to a pre-subsistent self (in other words, here relation is not a predicate of
substance). Relation makes the whole substance of the self, and sub-jectivity is
the restlessness of the relation of one to another or to itself from out of itself, and
not a presupposed self behind this relation, supporting or bearing it.
A self is nothing but a form or function of remission [renvoi]: a self is produced
in a remission to itself, or a presence to itself . . . even though this remission
were innite and the point in which a subject in substantial sense occurs were
this remission. (E, 2425)
Touching is not a modality of life, but it might reveal this truth of life in
general: even self-nutrition, self-generation or self-motion, are not activities of
some pure self (to autos) isolated in itself, but are possible only insofar as they
are actualized in touch with the other, by such a touch or as such a touch, occur-
ring out of the self or at the limit of it. Even nutrition is possible only by means
of an exposition that has already opened the self radically to the other: to eat is
not to incorporate, but to open our body to what is being swallowed, to exhale
the inside with avor of sh or g (C, 151).
Before nishing the second part of this paper, let us say a bit more concern-
ing this notion of self and of subjectivity in Nancy. Even the ego, the subject
supposed to be one and the same in self-reection or self-intuition, is not itself
but in touching, and therefore in relation to itself (intimate distance). Every time
I open my mouth and say I, or every time I have I in mind, I am not I or I is
not me. I am already separated from I (from me), I is already something
other. When I pronounce (or conceive) ego sum, I lose all substantiality
Nancys Concept of Body 199
grounded in the presence and identity to myself. I is only, as Kant would say,
I or he or it (the thing) that thinks and accompanies all the representations.

When I pronounce(s) ego sum, I feel(s) I coming from the diaphragm up
to my (its) mouth as a vibration exhaling myself (itself) out of any identity to
myself (itself) (ES, 152). Ego sumin the mouth or in the mindis thus es-
sentially distinction, exposition (expeausition), being out of itself, and therefore
the evidence of this, that I am (or I is) body. Ego is to be outside of the ego. Ego
is to be a body (C, 121).
Ego (I or he or she or it) is formed at the other, through the other or with the
other: ego is distinction, from itself and from the other. Ego has no more proxim-
ity to itself than to any other thing from which it distinguishes itself. Thus ego
becomes one among others, it becomes some-one. The one of someone is
precisely not the only one, absolutely and totally one. In order to be ab-solutely
one, the one would have to be detached from everything else and be one alone
(al-one), deprived of any relation to and of any distinction from the other or itself.
Now, if that were the case, one would be nothing at all.
One [lun], as purely and simply one, one absolutely one, one and nothing else,
the subject being its own substance, destroys itself. . . . If there were only one
there would be nothing. If there were only one, not even dividing itself, how
could it ever be possible for this one to appear? In order to be present to itself,
there must be a relation, hence more than one. (US, 98)
Someone is not the individual, at least not in the sense of an auto-nomous
being serving as the basis (substance) of singular features (accidents). Someone
is not a particular participating in the oneness of a species, or in some com-
mon destination (as the individual of the nation-state, for instance). Someone
can be related to individual only insofar as the latter essentially is something
in itself indistinct, and at the same time distinguished from everything else.

Individual, in this sense, does not share with others in a species or in a com-
mon destination, but in the very distinction that puts it among others. Now, what
performs this distinction is, of course, body. Body is the singularity that exposes
every one to the other and makes the singular-plural sharing of ones. Only body,
or the singular-plural touch of bodies, opens the intimate distance in which there
is one among ones. In this sense, someone is somebody. As Nancy remarks: here
the English expression somebody nds its whole meaning, because only through
body someone exposes himself and engages his unicity with the unicity of the
others (US, 102).
This unicity is not the person, or in general some kind of substance thought
as bearing the singular features of appearing. This unicity is to be found in the
very punctuality of such singular features: I never run into Peter or Mary, but one
or the other under this form, in that state, in that mood, etc. (ESP, 27). Thus,
when, for instance, we think of someone that we know (or someone unknown),
200 Juan Manuel Garrido
we do not have in mind some personal identity, but, on the contrary, we visual-
ize such infra-personal differences. In the same text I have just quoted, Nancy
also analyzes the expression people are strange (les gens sont bizarres). At rst
glance, we would think that whenever such an expression is spoken, we mean a
sort of agglutination of bodies in some anonymous whole (the people). If we
pay enough attention, however, whenever we use this expression, our representa-
tion of people cannot be detached from singular features. People is not here
the anonymous rumor of the public realm, but silhouettes at once imprecise and
singularized, voices sketches, behaviors schemes, moods shadows (ESP, 25).
3. Hoc est enim corpus meum:
Body and Deconstruction of Christianity
Before exploring the place of body in the large program of thinking that Nancy
calls Deconstruction of Christianity, I will say a few words on the sense of this
prima facie provocative expression. The deconstruction of Christianity is not the
demolition of Christianity, the denial of Christian religion, culture and philosophy.
The deconstruction of Christianity is, rather, the philosophical inquiry into the
foundational elements and conceptuality of Christianity in order to eventually
disclose new possibilities within it. However, this is far from being a call to give
new breath to Christian faith, and does not assume any form of return of re-
ligion. On the contrary, the deconstruction of Christianity takes note of the fact
that Christianity is a horizon that no longer breathes life to us (D, 201). Indeed,
humanity no longer lives history as the history of redemption. This is the reason
why it would be inappropriate to associate Nancys research with some religious
or theological turn in Continental Philosophy. The deconstruction of Christian-
ity is to be linked with a philosophical tradition of works on Christianity whose
closest referents are philosophers such as the young Hegel, Feuerbach, or Nietz-
sche. In this tradition, what is at stake is the genealogy of Christianity insofar as
it aims at the grounds of its historical provenance, and this within the context of
an interrogation of the identity and historicity of Europe and the West.
If there is any provocation in Nancys deconstruction of Christianity, it is rather
against we atheist philosophers who may think that we are done with Christian-
ity. Have we sufciently thought our Christian provenance? Have we sufciently
thought the Christian provenance of atheism? As the exergue of the essay La
dconstruction du christianisme, published in La Dclosion, Nancy quotes these
words from Nietzsche: theologians and everything that has theologian blood in
the veins: our entire philosophy (D, 199). Our entire philosophy: presumably
then not only German Idealism but the whole tradition of Western philosophy.
Not only Kant or Hegel but also Plato, Aristotle or Marx, and since it is Nancy who
re-inscribes these words, let us add Husserl, Heidegger, and why not Derrida
Nancys Concept of Body 201
given the fact that deconstruction itself, as a gesture that is neither critique nor
perpetuator, and as a gesture showing a relation to history and tradition that one
cannot nd in Husserl, Hegel nor Kant, is not possible but within Christianity,
even though it is not expressively formulated within it (D, 215216).
Thus, Christianity here is not in the least considered as a doctrinal corpus
(as a religion among others, or against othersIslam, Judaism, even Buddhism
or paganism). Christianity is rather a general matrix or scheme for approach-
ing the sense and destination of philosophytherefore also science, ethics, art,
politics, etc.in the West.
If this analogy does not harm the understanding of
Nancys particular view, I would say that Christianity here has a similar status
and function as Nietzsches notion of Platonism, which refers to the original
structure of all Western philosophy (and not only to Platos particular doctrine), or
to Heideggers notions of metaphysics and onto-theology. In this latter context,
however, it would also be necessary to show how Nancys concept of Christian-
ity displaces and rethinks Heideggers onto-teology, since it aims at rendering
explicit the Christian structure of metaphysics itself.
A deconstruction of Christianity aims at the unthoughts of Christianity,
which will be brought into light insofar as work is done disassembling its foun-
dational structures. Christianity has to be seized before its construction, or in
retreat from it. This is not a procedure of going back to the pastas though there
were some untouched or unexploited nature of Christianity to be discovered
and presented in the present timebut a task to come. To turn our gaze toward
the unthoughts of Christianity means to give them a chance, that is, to repeat
Christianity in its unknown and not yet occurredand thereby still to-come
possibilities. The deconstruction of Christianity is essentially a dis-closure of
Christianity (closure of metaphysics, clture de la mtaphysique, is a well-known
expression of Derrida). We have to reach a provenance of Christianity deeper
than Christianity, a provenance that could make another resource appear (D,
206). Undoubtedly, such a gesture of thought has uncertainnot to say risky
results. But it is no more uncertain or risky than indulging in the belief that we
are done with Christianity.
Let us move now to the question of body. When Nancy afrms, at the begin-
ning of Corpus, that body is our invention (Who else in the world knows it? he
asks in C, 9), he means above all a Christian invention, from the crucied body or,
before that, from Platos body-cavern up until the proper body and the esh
of Modern phenomenology. All the possibilities of the understanding of body, in
the West, are somehow contained in the sentence of Jesus: hoc est enim corpus
meum. This sentence, Nancy explains, expresses our obsession with showing
thatGod, soul, the absolute or the unconsciousin this, right here. Hoc est
enim corpus meum is
202 Juan Manuel Garrido
our Om mani padne . . . , our Allah illallah . . . , our Schema Israel. . . . But that
in which our formula is different gives a measure of our most intimate dif-
ference: we are obsessed with showing some kind of this, and of persuading
(ourselves) that such a this, here, is what one cannot see, nor touch, neither
here nor elsewhereand that this is that not in any manner but as its body.
The body of it (God, absolute, as you wish), and the fact that it has a body or
that it is a body (hence, one might think, that it is the body absolutely): there it
is our haunting. The this presentied by the Absent par excellence. (C, 78)
Christian body, or body as such, is the body of the Other (God, Absolute, etc.)
in this body, here embodied. Christian body is thereby the body of the Incarnation.
The word became esh (verbum caro factum est): this thought, while holding
that caro is the glory and true coming of verbum, says also, in a totally different
sense, that verbum is the true presence and the meaning of caro (C, 58). This
true presence and meaning are not, of course, what we have seen to be the
extended soul, ex-posing or presenting body in its naked weight. The presence
of esh, here, in this, is such a presence only insofar as it presents the presence of
that which is absent, and whose nature is totally different. (This is the reason why,
in Incarnation, we are dealing with a mystery.) Hence it is in darkness and as
darkness itself that body has been conceived (C, 59). It happens like in the other
foundational myth of corporality: body has been conceived and congured in
Platos cavern, as the cavern itself: the prison or the grave of the soul (C, 59).
Incarnation is thus not understood as the exposition of body in its singularity
(this), quite rather it is as the occupation of the body by some non-corporeal
entity (C, 124). Incarnation is the concept of something impossible: that what
is without being in a place, what exists without exteriority, without form, without
matter (God), comes to esh (C, 124). From that moment on, the body will be
interpreted as the exteriority that essentially remits toward interiority. All appear-
ing of the outside will be understood as the expression of the inside. The this
and here of body becomes, in Incarnation, the sensible certainties that are to be
sublated by their remission to the inside. The body of Incarnation is the exten-
sion that must disappear as extension and turn into pure interiority. The body of
Incarnation is the de-extended, de-exteriorized, de-corporized body. Incarnation
structures itself as decorporation [dcorporation] (C, 61). Body is a presence that
presents something only insofar as it re-presents something else.
In other words, in Incarnation body is essentially conceived as sign. Its
extension coincides with signication. Even more, Christian bodyi.e., the em-
bodiment of Wordembodies signication as such. It constitutes in itself the
prototype and the sign of signication in general. Body is the total signier of a
sense whose sense consists in show itself as body [faire corps] (C, 66).
Lux in tenebris, the body of incarnation is the sign, absolutely. The sign, i.e., the
sign of sense, i.e., not the coming of sense but a remission to sense as interior-
Nancys Concept of Body 203
ity, as inside. The body is remission from the outside that it is to the inside
that it is not. Instead of being in extension, body becomes expulsion toward
its own interiority, to the extent that sign annihilates itself in the presence of
what it is meant. (C, 60)
Sign of itself, or being-self of sign: double formulation of the body in all its
states and in all the possibilities that we recognize in body (insofar as what we
recognize comes a priori from the realm of sense). The body signies itself as
body (of the) signifying interiority [intriorit sense]: it is only a question of
seeing everything that we let say to human body, to its upright standing, to its
opposable thumb, to its eyes where esh becomes soul (Proust). Thereby the
Body presents the being-self of sign, that is, the accomplished community of
signier and signied, the end of their exteriority, the sense displayed in the
sensible realm itselfhoc est enim. (C, 6465)
Following incarnation, there is such a thing as body insofar as, and only in-
sofar as, there is signication. Body is what it is on condition of becoming what it
is not, of turning (or expelling) its outside toward the inside. In a correlative way,
soul, instead of being the extension of bodies, their ex-position, collects itself
from this extensionwhich will from now on be perceived as alienation. Thus
soul becomes Spirit: in the soul body comes, in the spirit it departs (senlve). The
spirit is the sublation (la relve), the sublimation, the subtilisation of any form
of bodies (C, 67). Body is now the prison retaining Spirit, and for the truth of
such a body to be revealed, it must be penetrated, even destroyed, so that Spirit
will be free.
This is not unconnected with certain apparitions or images with which our
culture represents bodies as things to be read, deciphered. Bodies in our culture
essentially are written bodies, even whenor perhaps specially whenwe are
dealing with exotic bodies (foreign bodies, bodies of the other, in sum repre-
sentations of bodies modeled after our images of the other, of the stranger), or
when we are dealing with sexuality. And this writing of bodies does not exclude
some of those images bursting with signs that one might nd in body art. In
everything our civilization calls body, something is to be read, to be sublated,
erasing the naked weight of it. Strange foreign bodies [tranges corps trangers],
subtracted to the weighing of their nudity, doomed to be concentrated in them-
selves, under their skin bursting with signs until the revocation of all senses into
a white and insensible sense (C, 10). Later on:
Written bodiesincised, engraved, tattooed, healed [cicatriss]are
treasured bodies, preserved, reserved as the codes of which they are the
magnicent engrams: thereby we are not dealing with the Modern body, the
body that we have thrown, left there, before us, coming to us, naked, nothing
but naked, and beforehand exscripting itself from any writing. (C, 13)
204 Juan Manuel Garrido
We should not speak of this penetration of the body only in a metaphorical
way, that is, as the movement of recollection and intellection of spirit. If the truth
of the body is to be found in decorporation, the extreme way to accomplish this
truth is precisely to wound. The sense of body (i.e., sense absolutely speaking)
is brought about only in its annihilation as body (as exteriority, as extension).
Bloodi.e., what is retained within the body, blood that bears pneyma, the
Spirit itself that breaths life into bodyblood becomes the absolute sense, the
signied in itself and for itself, signifying by itself. Spirit concentrates what wound
frees: in both cases the body subsides, more and less than dead, deprived of its
own measure of dead, blemished, tormented (C, 68). The openness of blood is
identical to that of the sense (C, 92). The truth of body eventually lies in its tor-
ment, in its sacrice. For that reason, the most accomplished form of incarnation
is the bloody body of Christ on the Cross.
Even when Incarnation receives more complex and subtle formulations,
for instance when it is no longer conceived as the coming of a non-corporeal
substance into body but as the coming of body itself to itself in the absolute prox-
imity to itself; even, then, when body is the self-signication of its properness,
as happens with the proper body of phenomenology, we have not abandoned
the semio-theological structure of body. Of course, here there is no longer some
spiritual interiority captive in body, but only because the entire body has become
Spirit. Body itself has become recollection, concentration, self-reection. It is
the body-cavern entirely full of spirituality, by intentionality and life. Body is
the signifying outside (the zero-point of orientation and intention, origin and
receptor of relations, unconsciousness), and in this case, the outside appears as
a dense interiority, a full cave, bursting with intentionality (C, 61). In sum,
the signifying body does not cease to exchange inside and outside, to abolish
extension in the single organon of sign: where sense forms itself and from
where it takes form. Particular philosophical perspectives will not change
much to this: dualism of soul and body, monism of esh, cultural or
psychoanalytic symbolisms of bodies, body will always be structured as re-
mission to sense. . . . The signifying bodythe entire corpus of philosophical,
theological, psychoanalytical, semiological bodiesembodies only one thing:
the absolute contradiction of not being body without being the body of a spirit
that decorporizes it. (C, 6162)
Incarnation deconstructs and discloses itself exactly at the point in which this
contradiction becomes apparent. This deconstruction occurs when body retreats
itself from signication, when it exceeds or interrupts it, when it stands apart or
in reserve from it. In a word, body discloses itself whenever it exscripts itself from
the signifying bodyor from the realm of signication in general.
But how does this exscription occur? In the following, I will analyze this recall-
ing the interpretation of the Last Supper that the young Hegel performed in his
Nancys Concept of Body 205
posthumous Spirit of Christianity and its Fate. This text describes, with extreme
accuracy, the contradiction of incarnation mentioned above and might offer
different hints for understanding the disclosed possibilities of incarnation.
The very act of drinking and eating together, Hegel explains, especially among
Arabs, is in itself an act of love and not merely a sign (Zeichen) of love. Between
eating and drinking together and love, there is no conventional and objective
bond, but common feeling of union, which itself is union.
Now, when Jesus
took the bread and the glass of wine while pronouncing: this is my body, this is
my blood, he was not only celebrating friendship, but he meant something else.
From that moment on, bread and wine become the signs of Love and Spiritand
quite peculiar signs since they are deprived of any objective or conventional bond
with their signied. Jesus does not say: let us share this bread and this wine as
if we were sharing my sacrice and my spirit, but his words were supposed to
present immediatelywhile utteredtheir content.
Bread and wine, concludes
Hegel, were meant to be mystic signs, and thereby the act of the Last Supper was
meant to be a religious act (even though it will fail as such an act, as Hegel will
show later).
Bread and wine objectify Love and Spirit, turning them into something
sensible that can be seen and tasted. But this signication of bread and wine is
only possible among people already initiated in Christs teachings. An indiffer-
ent viewer of the Supper, for instance, would see only a completely banal act of
friendship. Bread and wine are not like the beautiful statue of Venus, which turns
love into an objective and sensible reality for whoever contemplates it. Hegel re-
marks, however, that bread and wine offer this advantage: since they are eatable
and drinkable, i.e., susceptible of being incorporated, they present, for external
feeling, the movement in which the Spirit of Christ is accomplished.
happens like the act of readingthe analogy is from Hegel. A (subjective) thought
becomes a sensible thing in written words, which are by themselves dead elements
(without life, without feeling) waiting for the reading that will breath them
into life again. The act of reading recollects (legere) the signication of words, i.e.,
performs the movement of interiorization in which intellection consists. Word is
not a word unless it signies, and in order to signify it has to be read. Likewise,
bread and wine do not mean what they mean unless they become Spirit, Love,
and for this to occur, they have to be the body and blood of Jesus himself being
incorporated, eaten, digested.
And yet, explains Hegel, the objectied reality of Spirit in the ritual of com-
munion will have only the splendor of a truth that lasts the time of manducation.
We still need a synthesis performed by thought, able to turn bread and wine
objectively into Love: we need them as signs, what precisely contradicts the sense
of a religious act. Thus the act of drinking and eating proves to be a confusion
between subject and object rather than a unication, [given] the fact that love here
206 Juan Manuel Garrido
becomes visible in and attached to something which is to be destroyed.
and wine (as things given to taste) on one side, feeling of Love (as given to faith)
on the other side, pertain to totally different realms. The ritualistic and semantic
value of bread and wine lies in that they are destroyed, but this destruction is their
ruin, since no objective reality remains any longer as divine presence.
After the supper the disciples began to be sorrowful because of the impending
loss of their master, but after a genuinely religious action the whole soul is at
peace. And, after enjoying the supper, Christians today feel a reverent wonder
either without serenity or else with a melancholy serenity, because feelings
intensity was separate from the intellect and both were one-sided, because
worship was incomplete, since something divine was promised and it melted
away in the mouth.
Now, if what is given to the mouth shows itself as not being the Spirit given
to faith; if the digestion of bread and wine is not the incorporation of Love, but a
materiality or exteriority that, while dissolving in the mouth, resists its spiritual
meaning; if what is in correlation with this, the decaying body
of Jesus that
disciples will grieve, is not the image of a redeemed humanity, all this is due to
the fact that body exposes itself as body, in its nudity and weight of body. Body is:
what one cannot incorporate, decorporate, what excripts itself at the very moment
of being eaten and digested, or understood or signied. Body, or the weight of
body, exscripts itselfbody is this exscriptionfrom Incarnation in all the
senses that we may confer to this concept: as prison of soul, as proper body, as
pure presence of divinity. Nancy writes:
Neither prison of soul (sensible or faded body), nor expression of interiority
(proper body or signifying body, what I would even call the sublated
body of certain modernity), nor pure presence (body-statue, sculpted body,
re-divinized body in the polytheistic way according to which the statue is itself
the whole divine presence), but: extension, spacing, expansion [cartement]
of swoon itself. (D, 127)
The ex-position (or ex-scription) of body, such as it has been characterized
throughout this paper, is therefore nothing but the disclosed truth of Incarnation.
What is properly disclosed in or through this mystery, I mean, the unthought that
is given as a task for thinking, is that God becomes esh insofar as it has already
been exceeded by Himself and has already been brought out of any spiritual
concentration: in short, that God is the truth of body, of extension. In incarna-
tion, divinity disperses, loses breath, expires, hollows out (as in Pauls kensis).
Incarnation is the ex-position of divinityor it is nothing at all. Incarnate body,
Christian body, is nothing but spirit out of itself or out of its simple identity (D,
126). And this is not a mere accident that occurs to spirit, but on the contrary
Nancys Concept of Body 207
the divine spirit of Christianity is already out of itself (there it lies its Trini-
tarian nature), and certainly we have to look at the monotheist god common
to the three religions of the Book and consider that this god is already, in
itself, essentially placing itself out of itself through and within a creation.
(D, 126127)
This paper belongs to a research project sponsored by FONDECYT (Government of Chile).
Project Nr. 11060465.
1. This lecture was published in C, 10728. See the bibliography for abbreviations used
in citation of Nancys works.
2. On the Soul, I, 402 a 7.
3. Ibid., II, 1, 412 a 21.
4. I will briey recall Aristotles view on matter and form. A thing, a substance, is
a compound (synolon) of form and matter. Think for example of this statue in
bronze: the matter corresponds to the metal of which it has been madethe bronze
itselfand the form is the aspect of its idea (to schma ts ideas) (Metaphysics, VII,
3, 129 a 45)i.e., the shape and function that makes possible that I recognize it
as a statue. Matter and form are not two different things, each one existing by
itself or separated from each other; on the contrary, they are two perspectives or two
abstractions that we can work out in examining the constitution of one and the same
thing (compound). In other words, the bronze is not by itself matter, but the matter
of this statue that I am considering now as being a bronze statue. As soon as I want
to consider bronze independently of the statue, it becomes itself a compound
whose form is now the shape and function of the idea of bronze and the matter
some copper alloy. The bronze is matter only inasmuch as further possibilities of
this metal are considered: when it is potentially a helmet, a weapon, a statue; and the
statue is the form only inasmuch as it offers this particular actualization of mat-
ter (and not a helmet, a weapon, etc.). We can even say that form is the matter, i.e.,
not only what gives shape to it but also materializes it as the matter of this or that
compound, and the matter is the form, i.e., what simultaneously gives body to it and
forms it as the form of this or that compound. Matter and form are one and the
same (touto kai hen), once considered as potentiality, once as actuality (Metaphysics,
VIII, 6, 1045 b 1819). When Nancy resorts to Aristotelian terminology of matter
and form in order to characterize body and soul, he precisely emphasizes their unity,
thus adopting an anti-dualistic position: the form of a body is above all the body
itself. If there is a body, it must have a formbut to say so is not fair enough, since
the verb to have might let us think of some exteriority of form with respect to body.
Body is form. (C, 114)
5. Derrida, On Touching, 19.
6. This text was published in 1978. There is an English version in BP, 393.
7. Derrida, On Touching, 12.
208 Juan Manuel Garrido
8. I am quoting from the Irizarrys version included in On Touching, 13.
9. Derrida suggests that this text on Caravaggio is in dialogue with his own about
Psyche of Nancy, rst published 1992 and then reprint for On Touching. Nancy
would be therefore returning consciously to this motif of Psyche dead.
10. Here is the complete passage: She did not die here. They have carried her to this
makeshift bed where they deposited her body, slackened in a posture not yet ar-
ranged, to wash it before the funeral. Her hands have not been placed in a manner
that would imitate prayer. Someone has just pulled back the covering in which she
had been wrapped. The body and the face are swollen, the hair is undone, the bodice
unlaced (M, 5859).
11. On the Soul, II, 1, 412 b 1725; Metaphysics, VII, 10, 1035 b 24; The Generation of
Animals, 734 b 25735 a 9; Parts of Animals, I, 640 b 34 ss, 641 a 2023; Meteorologica,
IV, 12.
12. This applies especially to homogeneous parts of body (esh and bone, blood,
sinews, etc.), whose functions are less evident than those of the non homogeneous
parts (face, hands, eyes, etc). In Meteorologica, IV, 12, Aristotle says the following
(the emphasis are mine): a dead man is a man only in name. And so the hand of
a dead man, too, will in the same way be a hand in name only. . . . But in the case of
esh and bone the fact is not so clear to see, and in that of re and water even less. For
the end is least obvious there where matter predominates most. . . . A thing really is
itself when it can perform its function; an eye, for instance, when it can see. When a
thing cannot do so it is that thing only in name, like a dead eye or one made of stone,
just as a wooden saw is no more a saw than one in a picture. The same, then, is true
of esh, except that its function is less clear than that of the tongue. Of this kind of
parts, we cannot state the form accurately, and so it is not easy to tell when they are
really there and when they are not unless the body is thoroughly corrupted and its
shape only remains. So ancient corpses suddenly become ashes in the grave and very
old fruit preserves its shape only but not its taste (389 b 30390 a 16). The matter
of which it is here a question corresponds to what Aristotle calls ultimate matter
(h eschat hyl) of the compound (cf. Metaphysics, VII, 10, 1035 a 3334): ultimate
not in the sense of the merely anonymous matter, totally formless, rst material
subject of everything (h prt hekasti hypokeimen hyl), including of becoming
the four simple elements (Physics, 191 a 711). On the contrary, ultimate matter is
the proximate and the closest to the hylemorphic compound, as the bronze in the
bronze statue or the esh and bones of Callias body.
13. On the Soul, II, 2, 413 a 32.
14. Ibid., II, 2, 413 a 2122.
15. I am quoting Heidegger in the Heraclitus Seminar, where he says, speaking to Fink: A
human is embodied only when he lives. The body in your sense is to be understood
thus. Thereby, to live is meant in the existential sense (146). This afrmation would
need to be worked out in relation to the lessons of winter semester 1929/30, The
Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics.
16. Aristotle, On the Heavens, I, 1, 368 b 89.
17. Singular determination is essential to body (C, 116).
Nancys Concept of Body 209
18. The other, if it is other, is another body. I dont reach it, it stays at distance (A, 139).
19. Derrida, On Touching, 18.
20. Speaking of dancing: Lautre corps se rejoue dans le mien. Il le traverse, il le mobilse
ou il lagite. Il lui prte ou il lui donne son pas. . . . Lautre, l-bas, proche dans son
loignement, tendu, pli, dpli, djet, retentit dans mes jointures (A, 139).
21. Derrida, On Touching, 111. So far as concerns the differences between Nancys concept
of body and the phenomenological concepts of esh (der Leib, la chair) and
proper body (corps propre), the work that is to be referred is chiey Derridas On
Touching. Nancy does not establish himself such a discussion; in his work, references
to phenomenological tradition are scarce and elliptical. As a matter of fact, to solicit
Nancys thought around touching as a main problematic is already an interpreta-
tive decision, as Derrida himself declares in the Foreword of On Touching (ixx). This
does not mean, however, that Derridas interpretation is arbitrary, or personal, and
that Nancys scholars might ignore it. The fact that Nancy himself, after 1992 (when
Derrida wrote the rst version of On Touching), will constantly refer to and elaborate
on Derridas interpretation, constitutes in itself a reason for not ignoring it. In any
case, Derrida is far from aiming at a simple appropriation of Nancys thought to his
own interests; on the contrary, it is in the attempt of showing Nancys philosophical
singularity and by examining the peculiarities of his writing, that he discovers such
a distinctive yet not systematic treatment of the concept of touching.
22. On Youth and Old Age (in Parva Naturalia), 469 a 68.
23. On the Soul, III, 13, 435 a 1617.
24. Which is one of the three thesis concerning the being of world in Fundamental
Concepts of Metaphysics ( 42): stone is worldless, animal is poor in world, man is
25. Cf. respectively Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, 47 and Being and Time, 12.
26. Why does one have to determine access to a priori as the only way of making-up-a-
world and of being-toward-the-world? Why could the world not also a priori consist in
being-among, being-between, and being-against? In remoteness and contact without
access? Or on the threshold of access? (And this a priori would be identically the a
posteriori of the material world, the indenite grouping of threshold with threshold,
one thing with another, each on the border of the other, at the entrance yet not entering,
before and against the singular signature exposed on the threshold) (SW, 5960).
27. Critique of Pure Reason, A 346/B 404.
28. In US, Nancy analyzes the notion of individual from St. Thomass denition: Indi-
viduum: quod est in se indistinctum, ab aliis vero distinctum (103).
29. Nancy even suggests that the Jew-Greek Derrida speaks of in Writing and Difference
may precisely be the Christian: In other words, one might wonder if the Jew-Greek
Derrida speaks of in the end of Violence and Metaphysics (this Jew-Greek in which,
as he says, our history consists) is not the Christian. One might wonder as well why
do we systematically turn our gaze away from the Christian, why do we squint toward
the Jew-Greek as if we did not want to look at the Christian (D, 204).
30. It is due to the generality of this concept of Christianity that sometimes Nancy prefers
to speak of Monotheism, whose most European formhence the form that has
210 Juan Manuel Garrido
accompanied the most, until the middle of the XXth Century, the occidentalization
of the worldis the form of Christianity (D, 5152).
31. To eat and drink with someone is an act of union and is itself a felt union, not a con-
ventional sign (Hegel, Early Theological Writings, 248; I am modifying translation).
32. Here things heterogeneous are most intimately connected, notes Hegel (ibid., 249).
33. Ibid., 2501.
34. Ibid., 251.
35. Ibid., 2523.
36. Ibid., 291.
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