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Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 22, Issue 1, Fall 2017

Idioms of Ethical Life

Jeffrey T. Nealon
Pages 105-118
DOI: 10.5840/epoche201772895

Hermeneutics without Meaning
The Comic and the Political

This essay traces an astonishing shift in Denny Schmidt’s work, from his emphasis on tragedy and death in 2005’s Lyrical and Ethical Subjects, to an emphasis on the comic possibilities of life in Between Word and Image (2012). Simply put, his earlier book pivots most decisively on language and, as he writes, the ways that language “bears witness to finitude” (2). Between Word and Image, on the other hand, pivots decisively on the image and reveals for us the possibility that “painting is at its heart the presentation of the movement of life” (96). The essay ends with some questions about the specifically political upshot of Schmidt’s work on the relations among aesthetic experience and “life.”