The Biopolitics of Asymmetry: Interrogating the Humanity of Drone Warfare

In response to a speech given by Obama in 2013 on his administration’s counterterrorism policy, popularly referred to as his “drone speech,” General William Nash commented that Obama “has begun the transition from a perpetual war to a more normalized security framework.” I address this normalization of the categorization and control of life within a global threatscape. Much of the debate at policy level, in academia, and on the flickering screens of media outlets surrounding the contemporary fixture of the counterterror arsenal, the drone, focuses upon the legal and ethical implications. Administration officials continually stress the need for “transparency” and the president’s wish that the United States hold itself to “the highest possible standards” in the conduct of a just, humanitarian war—reminding us this is indeed a war, against an organization and its affiliates.

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The Force of Resistance: Religious Events and Political Discourse

Although a frustrating incalculable for the engineers of government, religion must be acknowledged as that without which the techniques and technologies of human subjectivity would not exist. I am not here arguing for the adoption of certain religious practices or beliefs, but simply qualifying the centrality of the political by insisting on the necessity of the religious. I maintain that the asymmetry characteristic of all civilizations stems from ruptures that I describe as religious, or evental—terms that I maintain are equivalent. To probe the intricacies of asymmetrical warfare in the twenty-first century is to ask, “Whence and whither the Event?”

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Fictional Futures and Literary Pasts: Reflections on Houellebecq’s Submission

For scholars of religion and literature, Michel Houellebecq’s Submission glimmers like a shiny lure. The storyline contains the sorts of details that appeal to an easy and seductive journalistic gloss. The year is 2022. A charismatic Muslim prime minister is elected in France, and an almost caricatured series of events follows: men and women are separated; the university president converts to Islam and weds a young wife; professors are coerced to convert or retire early; and so on. Add to the plot Houellebecq’s professed Islamophobia and the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, and you have the ingredients of a newsworthy book to be addressed by critics, journalists, and readers across the world. Like a number of reviewers, I initially found myself lured to consider religion, secularism, and contemporary French politics against the backdrop of the newly published English translation. But as I began reading, I was confronted with a challenge of a different sort.

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Contingency and Necessity in the Genealogy of Morality

Paul di Georgio’s “Contingency and Necessity in the Genealogy of Morality” appears in Telos 162 (Spring 2013). Read the full version online at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our store.

This article evaluates the relationship of the concepts of contingency and necessity to the historical developments and power relations in Nietzsche’s Genealogy. Both Nietzsche and Foucault maintain that, contra Herder, their genealogies are not grounded in originary investigation. Thus for their sort of genealogy to be a philosophically useful method, the force of interpretive analysis must be located elsewhere. The analytic force, I argue, is based in the relationship of values, events, and moral beings. Specifically, I maintain that the progression of moral stages in Nietzsche’s study is ordered in such a way that the failure of each stage is logically and structurally necessary, and that each failure structures the resultant system or paradigm. However, we must also note that the historical manifestation of moral paradigms which coincide with predicted or projected theoretical structures remains contingent upon a multitude of other historical factors, most importantly, human involvement. The conclusion is that systematic internal failures of moral stages allow for but do not cause successive events, since the structural scope of possibility within which a value may be held is best explained in terms of a “middle space” characterizable in both contingent and necessary terms.

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Chiasms in Meditation or Toward the Notion of Cartesian Fiction

Juan Carlos Donado’s “Chiasms in Meditation or Toward the Notion of Cartesian Fiction” appears in Telos 162 (Spring 2013). Read the full version online at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our store.

In constant friction with readings that are either completely oblivious of the notion or merely mention the fictional aspect of Descartes’ Meditations, this essay attempts to philosophically thematize the concept of fiction, based on a now famous interpretation by Michel Foucault. We will attempt to make a robust case for constructing the concept of Cartesian fiction as a philosophically crucial category, which cannot be absent from an analysis that pretends to capture the thrust of Descartes’ writing in the Meditations. We will address how fiction plays a determining role in defining certain philosophical pillars of Cartesian thought, such as the concepts of radical doubt, truth, and the extension of rationality itself. We will closely read various key moments of Meditations I–II to illustrate why fiction can be viewed as the hermeneutical catalyst that unlocks the interpretation of certain “chiasms,” which Foucault well identified within the Meditations as the crossing between two discursive lines, that of the system and that of the exercise. At the same time and by the same token, the focus on the concept of fiction will serve to provide our own interpretation of the meditating subject’s encounter with madness, an encounter that spurred a heated debate between Foucault and Jacques Derrida.

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