The Truth of Democracy

9780823232444: Hardback
Release Date: 12th June 2010

9780823232451: Paperback
Release Date: 12th June 2010

Dimensions: 139.7 x 215.9

Number of Pages: 72

Series Just Ideas

Fordham University Press

The Truth of Democracy

Written by
Jean-Luc Nancy
,
Translated by
Pascale-Anne Brault
and
Michael Naas
Hardback / £66.00
Paperback / £19.99

The initial provocation for The Truth of Democracy was the fortieth anniversary of May ’68 and the recent criticism (some by French President Nicolas Sarkozy himself) leveled against the ideals and actors at the center of this important but still misunderstood moment in French history. Nancy here defends what he calls simply “68” without apology or equivocation, calling it an essential stage in the search for the “truth of democracy.” Less a period within time than a critical moment or interruption of time, 68 needs to be understood, Nancy argues, as an “event” that provided a glimpse into the very “spirit of democracy,” a spirit that is linked not to some common vision, idea, or desire (such as the nation, the republic, the people, or humanity) but to an incommensurability (the infinity of man or man’s exceeding of himself ) at the origin of democracy.

Written in a direct and accessible, almost manifesto-like style, The Truth of Democracy presents a forceful plea that we rethink democracy not as one political regime or form among others but as that which opens up the very experience of being in common.

By rearticulating many of the themes and terms he has developed elsewhere (from community and being in common to the singular plural) in relationship to an original analysis of what was and still is at stake in May ’68, The Truth of Democracy is at once an eloquent summary of much of Nancy’s work and a significant development of it.

It is as if, forty years after being first scrawled across university walls and storefronts in France, one of the most famous slogans of May ’68 has received in The Truth of Democracy its most eloquent and poignant theoretical elaboration: “Be realistic, demand the impossible!”

Jean-Luc Nancy is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Université Marc Bloch, Strasbourg. His wide-ranging thought is developed in many books, including Expectation: Philosophy, Literature; The Possibility of a World; The Banality of Heidegger; The Disavowed Community; and, with Adèle Van Reeth, Coming (all Fordham).

Pascale-Anne Brault is Professor of French at DePaul University. She is the co-translator of several works of Jacques Derrida’s, most recently For Strasbourg: Conversations of Friendship and Philosophy (Fordham).
Michael Naas is Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago. His books include The End of the World and Other Teachable Moments: Jacques Derrida's Final Seminar and Miracle and Machine: Jacques Derrida and the Two Sources of Religion, Science, and the Media (both Fordham).

These short essays are packed tight with the sort of incisive
reflection that Jean-Luc Nancy always brings to bear on his
subject. The subject of democracy brings out the most generous and
exhilarating dimensions of his thought. This collection is a very
welcome provocation to raise the level of understanding of what it
is we desire from democracy.

—Peggy Kamuf
University of Southern California

Nancy answers the reductive rewriting of history concerning May '68 with a resounding philosophical salvo, both salutary and exhortatory: think again, he urges, think through the current political impasses--of the Left in crisis, of the unimpeachable logic of economics, of globalized markets, and
so on--not just to uncover the necessarily disruptive aspirations of an always perfectible democracy, but to reconceive politics as the incalculability of _being in common_.

—David Wills
University at Albany, SUNY

In a formulation that is perhaps as original as it is disconcerting, The Truth of Democracy concludes that 'democracy is first and foremost a metaphysics and only afterwards a politics'.

—Times Literary Supplement