Facundo Vega specializes in political philosophy and critical theory. He received his PhD from Cornell University. Vega is assistant professor of philosophy at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez and research scientist at CONICET. He is currently completing his first book, titled Extraordinary Matters: The Political after Martin Heidegger, which breaks with contemporary readings of Heidegger to argue that ‘the onto-political moment’ in current critical theory epitomizes a pervasive hostility toward ordinariness. Challenging the idea that the politically new is something extraordinary, this book examines the role of ordinariness and commonality in moments of democratic founding.
Fellowships and awards from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the DAAD, American Friends of Marbach, the Martin-Heidegger-Stiftung, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and the Mario Einaudi Center have supported this project. Vega’s scholarly articles have appeared or are forthcoming in, among other venues, Philosophy Today, Cahier de L’Herne, and diacritics, for which he is co-editing a special volume on ‘Heidegger Today?’. He has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University, The New School, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Vega has served on the editorial board of diacritics.
Affiliated Project 2020-21
Hannah Arendt famously asserted that ‘revolutions are the only political events which confront us directly and inevitably with the problem of beginning’. Aware of political modernity’s ‘abyssal grounds’, Arendt sought, time and again, to find ways to elucidate political foundations. By returning to revolution, she reduced— in the archaic sense of restoring to righteousness — politics to the ‘principle of beginning’. This reduction, however, was itself a challenge to the philosophical tradition. From Plato and Aristotle to Hobbes, Marx, and Heidegger, philosophy, according to Arendt, subsumed the ‘beginning’ into the fusion of origins and rules. Arendt’s challenge was to think about political groundings without upholding a principle that lies beyond human affairs.
This project places Arendt’s accounts of revolution and ‘political beginnings’ alongside another attempt to understand the nature of politics: that of the Centre de recherches philosophiques sur le politique.Founded at the École normale supérieureunder the auspices of Jacques Derrida and Louis Althusser and directed by Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, the Centrehosted an array of thinkers to reflect on the question of ‘the political’, including Alain Badiou, Étienne Balibar, Sarah Kofman, Claude Lefort, Jean-FrançoisLyotard, and Jacques Rancière. In an Auseinandersetzungwith Arendt’s political thought, Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy, in particular, rethought the political meaning of reduction. Rather than implying a turning away from politics, the retraitof ‘the political’, for Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy, meant the philosophical withdrawing and re-tracing of political grounds. Considering these accounts together, the projectwill show how the debate over ‘political beginnings’ overcomes the fetishization of the ‘great event’ and ‘exceptional leadership’ to reveal the power of acting in common.
Principles of An-Archy: Hannah Arendt, Reiner Schürmann, and the Politics of the Many
ICI Project 2018-20
Facundo Vega’s project, Principles of An-archy: Hannah Arendt, Reiner Schürmann, and the Politics of the Many, compares Arendt’s and Schürmann’s shared but unacknowledged interest in ‘principles’ and ‘beginnings’ inherent to politics. Vega considers how both drew from and reformulated Heidegger’s philosophy of inception in order to analyze what Arendt and Schürmann understood as moments of freedom in history. Despite their attention to Heideggerian ‘principles’ and ‘beginnings’ of politics, Arendt and Schürmann, Vega argues, underestimated Heidegger’s condemnation of the vulgarity of the many.
For Heidegger, political founding amounted to extraordinary moments illustrated by the ontological status of the ruler; for Arendt and Schürmann, political founding, by contrast, was enacted by human plurality and the many, which cannot be inscribed into the history of Being and the body of the leader. Principles of An-archy thus speaks to our contemporary political milieu in its frustrated attempts to consolidate ‘the combined power of the many’. This kind of combined power, also known as democratic an-archy, offers a unique resource for challenging the return of exceptionalism in the form of populist leadership and great men.