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From Violence to Speaking Out

Apocalypse and Expression in Foucault, Derrida and Deleuze

Leonard Lawlor

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Develops the Derridean idea of the worst violence and creates new ways of speaking out against it

Leonard Lawlor’s groundbreaking book draws from a career-long exploration of the French philosophy of the 1960s in order to find a solution to ‘the problem of the worst violence’. The worst violence is the reaction of total apocalypse without remainder. It is the reaction of complete negation and death. It is nihilism.

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Introduction: From Violence to Speaking Out

Part I: On Transcendental Violence

1. A New Possibility of Life: The Experience of Powerlessness as the Solution to the Problem of the Worst Violence

2. What Happened? What is going to happen? An Essay on the Experience of the Event

3. Is it happening? Or the Implications of Immanence

4. The Flipside of Violence, or Beyond the Thought of Good enough

Part II: Three Ways of Speaking

5. Auto-Affection and Becoming: Following the Rats

6. The Origin of Parrēsia in Foucault’s Thinking: Truth and Freedom in The History of Madness

7. Speaking out for Others: Philosophy’s Activity in Deleuze and Foucault (and Heidegger)

8. 'The Dream of an Unusable Friendship': The Temptation of Evil and the Chance for Love in Derrida’s Politics of Friendship

9. Three Ways of Speaking, or 'Let others be Free': On Deleuze’s 'Speaking-in-Tongues'; Foucault’s 'Speaking-Freely'; and Derrida’s 'Speaking-Distantly'

Conclusion: Speaking out against Violence



About the Author

Leonard Lawlor is Edwin Earle Sparks Professor of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University. He is one of the leading Derrida scholars in the United States today and has written numerous books that deal, either in whole or in part, with the implications of Derrida's philosophy. Most recently, The Implications of Immanence (Fordham, 2006) and This is Not Sufficient: An Essay on Animality and Human Nature in Derrida (Columbia University Press, 2007).


Lawlor’s reading of Derrida, Foucault, and Deleuze is brilliant. But his master stoke is to appropriate them for his own aim: to embrace the 'fundamental violence' of experience – its undecidability – and thereby for us and him to enter the 'least violence' of an uncertain friendship with one another. His voice must be added to those of the other three.

- Fred Evans, Duquesne University

Tracing a novel path through the work of Derrida, Deleuze and Foucault, Leonard Lawlor expounds a remarkable ethics of the least violence. This book is a masterclass in radical phenomenological thinking that demonstrates the possibility of new ways of thinking, acting and being.

- Paul Patton, University of New South Wales

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