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COUNTERPRESS | Law Has Never Been Human
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Law Has Never Been Human

Thanos Zartaloudis
Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Kent

‘Let us be clear,’ with irony and humour, as Henri Michaux once proposed, the ‘secret’ of our metaphysical situation, or situatedness, in the procession of now this and now that name, is that it is not a nature or an essence that is postulated first and foremost but a name (onoma). In this sense, the key to our situation is that it is onomastic. Meanwhile, the ‘I’ is ‘a pain in the eye’ as Fernando Pessoa once wrote and so is the law’s delimitation of its-self. The law, it seems, must at all costs be able to juridify everything, but never admit its self-referential vertigo.

At the place of the human, its ways of being, its laws, and of phenomena more generally, the law posits its zero degree of self-reference as the machine of their capture. In its paradoxical statement of its right to state a right, the law founds its onomastic machine but also its Achilles’ heel. The law must do so in its late modern incarnation, but at the cost of an impoverishment of experience. The law, in this sense, is conceived as a necessary negative machine of capture by specifically not letting phenomena show themselves in themselves, but only through its fiction (fictio legis). It will be maintained, however, in this work that, as Gilles Deleuze writes, a ‘phenomenon, on the contrary, is that which shows itself in itself’.

The law does not encounter phenomena, then, but only the capture and concealment of their appearance; and above of all its own appearance in the first place. If the law must be the master of its-self, it must however be also the one that produces its subjects; and this as we have come to experience is an uncertain operation. In this book the self-perpetuating question or paradox of law’s negativity is acknowledged as a part to a long philosophical history of devices of dehumanization. Yet the book’s main purpose shall remain the affirmation of a human law. The expression of this affirmation is undertaken through short fragments on thinkers that can be re-read as pointing to its experience.

Expected December 2019. Notify when available

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