Volume 1, 1998
Aesthetics and Philosophy of the Arts
The Metaphysics of Performance
The “Theatre of the World”
Something extraordinary has happened to metaphysics. At the very moment when philosophy is focusing its efforts at bringing metaphysics to an ‘end,’ metaphysics finds itself flourishing in the theatre, which speaks of itself as ‘metaphysics-in-action’ and publishes treatises carrying such titles as The Act of Being: Toward a Theory of Acting. The irony of the situation appears to have been lost on postmodern philosophers. What this paper sets out to do is explore the potential consequences of the metaphysical weight that has been acquired by the theatre for the practice of philosophy. It argues that the theatrical performance is in fact an ‘enactment’ of the performance of being and that, as such, it is possible to extend our understanding of this performance from the theatrical stage to the ‘theatre of the world.’ Finally, in doing so, we can establish the context for a metaphysics that does not privilege presence.