Monday, November 13, 2006

The Primacy of Coexistence

"Being does not preexist its singular plural," writes Jean-Luc Nancy (Being Singular Plural, p. 29). Strictly speaking, he adds, "nothing preexists; only what exists exists." This is an essential claim of ontology as first philosophy. What's at stake here in Nancy's recommencement of an anti-totalitarian Heideggerian existentialism? Nancy says:

The themes of being-with and co-originarity need to be renewed and need to "reinitialize" the existential analytic, exactly because these are meant to respond to the question of the meaning of Being, or to Being as meaning. But if the meaning of Being indicates itself principally by the putting into play of Being in Dasein and as Dasein, then, precisely as meaning, this putting into play (the "there will be" of Being) can only attest to itself or expose itself in the mode of being-with: because as relates to meaning, it is never for just one, but always for one another, always between one another. The meaning of Being is never in what is said–never said in significations.

(p. 27)

The alternative approach here is to say that meaning is indeed what is said in significations. But what then do we make of the between-one-another quality of meaning? Do we assign it to the speech chain and more or less forget about it? Is it purely epiphenomenal? Does it only come into play in order to mediate? Is it the system that truly possesses agency? Is its embodiment in speakers then essentially accidental, something that could be otherwise?

On the other hand, if we follow Nancy, aren't we left with a watery concept of meaning, a sense of meaning that may be preconceptual? Do we need another concept of meaning to sort this out, or is it enough to separate meaning from the systems of signification? What does it mean to be meaningful? If we say "to coexist" are we travelling in circles?

Labels: , , ,

posted by Fido the Yak at 9:34 AM.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Fido - (is that really how you want to be addressed?)

I just wanted to let you know that I read your posts almost daily and enjoy both your choice of subjects and your ruminations.

I don't have the time now to respond in a more comprehensive way, but will try to do so - now and then - in the future.

You ARE being noticed and appreciated. Remember that.

All the best,

Orla Schantz

November 13, 2006 3:40 PM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Hi, Orla. Yes, I answer to Fido here, or Mr. Yak if that's your druthers. Thanks for the words of encouragement. I've seen you around (Enlightment Underground perhaps) and I'm glad that I can count you among my readers. Feel free to leave a comment any time or contact me (fidotheyak) at or

November 13, 2006 4:55 PM  

Post a Comment

Fido the Yak front page