The impact of 'exile' on thought: Plotinus, Derrida and Gnosticism

Rossbach, Stefan (2007) The impact of 'exile' on thought: Plotinus, Derrida and Gnosticism. History of the Human Sciences, 20 (4). pp. 27-52. ISSN 0952-6951 . (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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This article examines the impact of 'exile' - as an individual or collective experience - on how human experience is theorized. The relationship between 'exile' and thought is initially approached historically by looking at the period that Eric Dodds famously called the 'age of anxiety' in late antiquity, i.e. the period between the emperors Aurelius and Constantine. A particular interest is in the dynamics of 'empire' and the concomitant religious ferment as a context in which 'exile', both experientially and symbolically, appears to assume an overbearing significance. Plotinus' narrative of emanation and epistrophe as well as a group of narratives often classified as 'Gnosticism' are juxtaposed as two radical examples of a wider spiritual trend at the time according to which 'exile' could be considered constitutive of human experience. By way of an historical analogy, the insights gained from this study of late antiquity are then used to guide an analysis of the current, 'restless' epoch, in which experiences of displacement and exile on a mass scale undermine traditional notions of belonging, thus reviving the gnostic vision of cosmic reality as an alien, exilic environment. The article concludes with a discussion of Jacques Derrida's work as an example of contemporary gnosticism, in which a 'metaphysics of exile' is presented in the disguise of an 'exile from metaphysics'.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: alienation; Jacques Derrida; empire; exile; Gnosticism; negative theology
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Q Science
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Suzanne Duffy
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2008 08:53
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2014 13:23
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