Thinking equality today: Badiou, Ranciere, Nancy

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Abstract

Recent work on Alain Badiou and Jacques Ranciere has rightly identified equality both as a central theme in their own thinking and as the key notion in contemporary radical political thought more broadly, but a focus on the differences between their respective accounts of equality has failed to clarify a major problem that they share. The problem is that human equality is said to rest on a particular human capacity, leaving Badiou s axiomatic equality and Ranciere s assumed equality vulnerable to the charge of having a blind spot for some of society s most vulnerable. This article introduces an alternative understanding of equality drawn from the thought of Jean-Luc Nancy, an equality that does not rely on a human capacity to guarantee or verify it but rests on Nancy s notion of sense. The article explores the advantages of Nancy s account of equality in relation to sense over and against an alternative reading that focuses on Nancy s evocation of the suffering human body, before addressing, in conclusion, the problems with which Nancy s idea of equality will have to grapple, and why, despite these problems, it is still preferable to the Badiouian and Rancierian approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)522 - 534
Number of pages13
JournalFrench Studies
Volume67
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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