Ontology after Ontotheology: Plurality, Event, and Contingency in Contemporary Philosophy

Ontology after Ontotheology: Plurality, Event, and Contingency in Contemporary Philosophy

Gert-Jan van der Heiden $30.00

Published in April 2014 | 340 pages | paper | ISBN: 978-0-8207-0472-2

Book Reviews:

“Rather than the rejection of certain thinkers found in the new realisms, readers . . . will find Heidegger, Derrida, et. al. brought to bear on the problems announced in the subtitle. . . . Wide-ranging and provides an important contribution to debates about the direction of continental philosophy. . . . This book is a rich starting point for those thinking alongside Heidegger, Meillassoux, Agamben, and others regarding contemporary problems of ontology.” — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

“In seven chapters within two sections, the author takes readers on a tour of contemporary ontological theories in their relationship to the historically prior movements of hermeneutics, deconstruction, and phenomenology. . . . The argument is tightly focused. . . . Recommended.” — Choice

Book Information:

After the vehement critique of metaphysics in the twentieth century, ontology has again found its place at the center of continental philosophy. Yet this does not mean that the way in which metaphysics and ontology are understood has not been affected by these criticisms, the so-called “linguistic turn” of hermeneutics and deconstruction. In fact, as Gert-Jan van der Heiden demonstrates, the themes and concepts of contemporary continental metaphysics are highly influenced by the different versions of the account of classical metaphysics as ontotheology. Thus, contemporary thought seeks to recover a sense of the absolute, but without recourse to specifically theological underpinnings.

Working largely with present-day thinkers who take seriously Heidegger’s critique of ontotheology—authors such as Alain Badiou, Jean-Luc Nancy, Claude Romano, Quentin Meillassoux, and Giorgio Agamben­—van der Heiden returns with them to the question of ontology rather than rejecting the question altogether. As the book’s title suggests, he maps this contemporary debate in terms of three axes: plurality; the event and contingency; and, finally, an ethics proper to a thinking receptive to contingency.

Rather than affirming either the speculative or the hermeneutic-phenomenological school of thought, van der Heiden shows how these schools, each in their own way, are concerned with similar themes and sources of inspiration. In particular, he assesses and critiques the ways in which philosophers today deal with these concepts to offer an alternative to ontotheology. The question of contingency, he argues, is the most challenging issue for present-day ontology, and ontology today can only be an ontology of contingency.

Author Information:

Gert-Jan van der Heiden is professor of metaphysics at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. He is the author of The Truth (and Untruth) of Language and De stem van de doden (The Voice of the Dead), coeditor of the series Studies in Contemporary Phenomenology, and has also served as coeditor of Investigating Intersubjectivity. Van der Heiden’s work has appeared in Philosophy Today, International Journal for Philosophy and Theology, and American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly.

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