Anthropology of The Name | Sylvain Lazarus
One of my central categories is that of singularity. One can see immediately the difficulties there are in thinking the singular. Thinking the singular can be understood as de-singularization, as an accession to the general, or, at least, to a case of the general. But it is also possible to think without letting the object of thought establish the thought. It is possible to think against the thesis according to which thought exists only to the extent that its object is established. Saying this does not mean claiming that thought is always without an object, it means locating the question of the object as a particular case of the scientistic approach, and as a specificity of the scientistic mode of intellectuality, and not treating it as an invariant of thought, or of all rational thought.
In scientism, the object is linked to the general, to the establishment of general laws, which are the laws of the real. The order of the real and its laws prescribe the order of thought, and the hypothesis of irreducible singularities appears as antinomic to the universality of the scientistic concepts of the real. In the scientist vision, there is no singularity, there are only cases and types.
The thought of singularity is not a displacement with regards to the scientist thought, but a rupture within the problematic of intellectuality.
From here I include politics within the space of my investigation, because it is an exemplification of the thought of singularity, and because it is characteristic of the tension between the definitional, objectal or scientistic approach, and the process of subjectivation.
Politics is of the order of the subjective. This thesis is opposed to the objectal (objectales) doctrines which connect the analysis of politics to that of institutions such as the party, or structures such as the State, and which thus make of politics a social invariant convenient to an analysis of power. For me, politics is a thought. This is what establishes its sequential character, and which allows for this hypothesis, without reducing politics to the State, to the economy, to history, or without the fact that politics might be of the domain of repetition, or the structure. The opposition between object and thought in what concerns politics implicates the debate which opposes singularity to universalistic objectivism. If politics is a thought, it is of the order of the singular and it is an exemplification of singularity. There is no politics in general, there are only singular political sequences. Politics is not a permanent instance of societies, it is rare and sequential: it is given in historical modes. The mode, which is a relation of a politics to its thought, characterizes the lacunary existence of politics and allows an apprehension of politics via its thought. But the sequential and the non-objectal go together. The analysis of politics is thus exemplary of the tension between an objectal approach and an approach in terms of subjectivity, in that the importance of subjectivity, in terms of the identification of politics as thought, is opposed to the objectality, which leads to a marginalisation of the thought of politics. If the existence of politics is considered as an invariant, then politics does not arise out of what we here call the political, it does not arise out of thought … We should understand that the mode is a thought in that it expresses a singularity of the thought of politics, in that it unfolds a singular political thought. Politics in its singularity, that is, in its sequential dimension, does not coincide with the structural permanence of objects such as the State and classes. Politics as thought is not objectal.
A historical mode of politics is thus a singularity as it is given as a relation between politics and its thought. How to identify it? A mode begins and ends. It marks the sequence of existence of politics. The labor of identification of the mode proceeds through the delimitation of the sequence and through the determination of its duration. The question of determining the duration is itself a complex question which calls for an intervention of the category of the places of politics. In effect, each historical mode of politics displays its particular places, and therefore the disappearance of the place signifies the end of the sequence of the mode.