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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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A New Quarrel

A New Quarrel

(p.96) 5 A New Quarrel
On Universals

Étienne Balibar

, Joshua David Jordan
Fordham University Press

This chapter assesses the new “quarrel of universals” that now occupies philosophy and other overlapping disciplines. In this new quarrel, the question today is not only whether one is for or against the universal; the question is also how one defines the universal—a term whose surprising equivocity has become increasingly clear. Still more fundamentally, the question is how one should articulate the relationship between three related but heterogeneous terms whose widespread use has prompted conflicting claims: the universal, universality, and universalisms. The chapter begins by situating the question of the universal and its variations within the field that seems to constitute the strategic site of intersecting domains: philosophical anthropology, understood as the analysis of the historical differences of the human and of the problem that those differences pose to their bearers. It then outlines the difficulties which can be identified in every philosophical and political usage of the universal and its “doubles” according to three aporias. The first is the aporia of the multiplicity of the “world,” or of the universe as multiversum; the second is that of Allgemeinheit or All(en)gemeinheit, in other words, the irreducible gap between the universal and the common (or community); and, finally, that of co-citizenship, the form of belonging to a political unity to come, a unity whose law of belonging (membership) would be the heterogeneity within equality or the political participation of those foreign to the community.

Keywords:   philosophy, universal, universality, universalisms, philosophical anthropology, multiversum, Allgemeinheit, co-citizenship

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