Catherine Malabou is a former student and collaborator of Jacques Derrida, and her work has found an early, eager audience among English-speaking readers, especially for its progressive rethinking of postmodern, Derridean critique. Building on her notion of plasticity, a term she originally borrowed from Hegel's Phenomenology of Spiritand adapted to a reading of the philosopher's own work, Malabou transforms our understanding of the political and the religious, revealing the inherently malleable nature of these concepts and their openness to positive reinvention.In French, to describe something as plastic is to recognize both its flexibility and its explosiveness mdash;its capacity not only to receive and give form, but to annihilate it as well. After defining plasticity in terms of its active embodiments, Malabou applies the notion to the work of Hegel, Heidegger, Levinas, Levi-Strauss, Freud, and Derrida, recasting their writing as a process of change, rather than mediation, between dialectic and deconstruction. Malabou contrasts plasticity against the graphic element of Derrida's work and the notion of trace in Derrida and Levinas, arguing that plasticity refers to sculptural forms that accommodate or express a trace.
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Columbia University Press
November 09, 2009
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