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On UniversalsConstructing and Deconstructing Community$
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Etienne Balibar

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823288564

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823288564.001.0001

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Sub Specie Universitatis

Sub Specie Universitatis

Speaking the Universal in Philosophy

(p.59) 3 Sub Specie Universitatis
On Universals

Étienne Balibar

, Joshua David Jordan
Fordham University Press

This chapter examines the articulation of the problem of universality with that of university. The French–Latin wordplay that makes the term universitas into the origin of both university and universality is obviously anything but accidental. Philosophers, or certain of them, have been eager to use it whether in a spirit of critique or self-promotion to think about the status of their discipline. Since philosophy became an essentially academic specialization, not only has it never stopped thinking of itself as the field in which one seeks to elucidate the conditions and effects of a discourse of the universal, but universality has become the objective value from which it derives its legitimacy. Understood as “university” and as “universality,” the category of universitas always contains the idea of a totality. The chapter then describes the three major strategies that modern philosophers have deployed to think sub specie universitatis: disjunction, subsumption, and translation. Although their roots lie in the history of philosophy itself, these strategies also represent “critical” attitudes within philosophy.

Keywords:   universality, university, universitas, philosophers, philosophy, universal, totality, disjunction, subsumption, translation

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