Death and Comunity
Zrinka Boić-Blanuša (University of Zagreb)
According to Jean-Luc Nancy, the most painful testimony of the modern world is the testimony of the dissolution, the dislocation, or the conflagration of community. This failure of communal models (communism, liberalism, Christianity) is linked to their dependence on the notion of human immanence (totality, self-presence, self-consciousness). Thanks to the rejection of the metaphysics of the subject, the community cannot be described as a communion of individuals joined in some higher totality. In Nancy's view, the community is not a result of some project, it happens to singular beings (not individuals) and their communal relation is determined by something incommunicable that we all share - death. In his response to Nancy, Blanchot too addresses the problem of death and challenges the twentieth century Heideggerian analytics of mortality. According to Heidegger, death is an individual engagement: Mitsein is a structure essential to the constitution of selfhood, but death belongs exclusively to the solitary Dasein. Although the fate of Dasein is communal, it takes no part in one's relation to death. This means that we do not experience the dying of others in any genuine sense but are, at the very most, just there. In contrast to this attitude, Blanchot argues that the relation of the self to its own death is an exposure that opens onto the death of the other person. The self is brought outside itself into the community by way of its relation to the Other's finite existence. Therefore, in Blanchot's view, the community is grounded precisely in the relation of the self to the death of other person.
Nancy on his part claims that all the present writing testifies to the absence of community. The core of this crisis is the inability of Western philosophy to think community beyond the subject as its organizing category. But what if death, which announces the finitude of this subject, would become the foundation for a different conception of community? The purpose of this paper is to explore how in a dialogical exchange between Heidegger, Nancy and Blanchot death emerges as a common ground for the rethinking of community.