For revolt : breaks from time and uses of spatiality in the work of Jacques Ranciere

Palmusaari, Jussi (2017) For revolt : breaks from time and uses of spatiality in the work of Jacques Ranciere. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Emancipation tends to be understood almost self-evidently as a process that occurs over time. The core gesture of Ranciere's philosophy, as this dissertation argues, aims to challenge this view. It does this by emphasising spatiality in different ways over forms of temporalisation. While time generally functions as a form to order differences and directedness, space, as a broad abstract sphere, allows Ranciere to avoid such determinations and affirm egalitarian coexistence as such. Therefore, the logic of rupture at work in Ranciere's conception of emancipation is best understood not as a break in the temporal course of history, but rather as a break from time, as a dimension which is able to hold together a given course of things. As a theoretical background of this notion of emancipation lies Althusser's reconceptualization of historical time around the idea of rupture, while its main politico-historical coordinates lie in the Chinese Cultural Revolution. As will be shown, Ranciere's thought also bears affinity with the French Revolution seen through the question of the realization of eternal rights in the historically constituted reality. The logic of rupture which is played through space and time as different dimensional spheres provides a specific understanding of the vexed relation between eternal rights and historical time. While space and time always co-imply each other in human experience, it will be shown that Ranciere draws from the discrepancy between them to think a kind of timelessness immanent to historical temporality. As this thesis argues, we should recognise in this logic an attempt to think something like the Kantian noumenal dimension, as the realm of practical reason as such, without fettering it by temporal constraints. This philosophical radicality - characteristic of the current of French Maoism close to Ranciere - nevertheless ends up in a disappointing modesty when it comes close to actual practice. Thus, when emancipation is designed to reject in its principle any organisational discipline over time, the temporal order of things is left mainly to the 'police', while any emancipatory process is readily cancelled by the very logic it puts to work.

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