Thinking the Political with Jean-Luc Nancy

  • Janar Mihkelsaar
Keywords: Democracy, Nancy, relation, sovereignty, subject, the people, the political


In this article, I argue that at the center of Jean-Luc Nancy’s approach to the political lies the thinking of subject as that of relation. Throughout the historical actualizations of, for example, the individual, the state, or the people as a subject, the problematic of relation is one that has retreated and now demands to be subjected to a retreatment. When the arche-teleological presuppositions that constitute subject as that which is given enter the phase of deconstruction, subject comes to present itself as nothing but the activity of relating itself to itself. I respond to Nancy’s call to invent “an affirmation of relation” by way of rethinking the logics of sovereignty and democracy. While sovereignty unites, posits, finitizes, and finishes the self of the people, a post-68 democracy pluralizes, infinitizes, and disfigures the identity of the people. Between sovereignty and democracy, notwithstanding their conflicting tenets, the relation is not that of reciprocal exclusion. One is rather the correlative of the other. Without the one, the other would not make any sense. Through this Janus-faced economy of the political, the people can experience its own “reality”—to experience relation itself. The affirmation of relation is what gives and keeps free the voided site of the political for the infinite self-institution of the people, and for that reason is political par excellence.

Author Biography

Janar Mihkelsaar

PhD Candidate, Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, The Unit of Political Science
University of Jyväskylä,
Opinkivi, Keskussairaalantie 2, PO Box 35, Finland


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How to Cite
Mihkelsaar, J. (2021). Thinking the Political with Jean-Luc Nancy. Stasis, 11(1).