The Place of the Symbolic brings together Reiner Schürmann's essays on the nexus between art and politics.
In keeping with his translation of the destruction of metaphysics into an an-archic philosophy of practice, Schürmann here develops a radically immanent theory of the place of symbols, irreducible to both Idealist theories and structuralist accounts of the symbolic such as Jacques Lacan's. Symbols, Schürmann argues in some of his earliest texts, 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 interaction of metaphysics, tragedy and technology, on the “there is” in poetry, as well as reflections 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.
Reiner Schürmann (1941–1993) was a German philosopher
. He was born in Amsterdam and lived in Germany, Israel, and France before immigrating to the United States in the 1970s, where he was professor and director of the Department of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York. He is the author of three books on philosophy: Heidegger on Being and Acting
, Wandering Joy
, and Broken Hegemonies
is his only work of fiction. He never wrote nor published in his native German.