Heterology or ‘The Science of the Excluded Part’: An Introduction

Theory, Culture and Society 35 (4-5):3-27 (2018)
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Abstract

The text introduces the special issue on Georges Bataille and his idea of heterology. The editors, Marina Galletti and Roy Boyne, immediately point out the novelty of Bataille’s heterology, both in the academic and political contexts of the 1920s and the present day. It is suggested that Bataille’s heterology is neither a technical-philosophical notion nor a definitive concept. Rather, heterology represents the challenge of the illicit parts of our human existence to any constituted power that proclaims itself as hierarchical, authoritarian, absolute order. Heterology is the revolt of the excluded part – which Bataille sees mainly in the hidden parts of our human body – against a world made up by idealised abstractions. The different sections of the introduction illustrate how Bataille makes heterology operate as a critical and disruptive dispositive in all fields of our knowledge: art, politics, philosophy, economy. This emphasis is also to be found in the various contributions to the special issue, which are briefly discussed in the introduction. Finally, the reader is introduced to the dimension of the ‘completely other’ that Bataille’s heterology opens up and leaves incomplete, as if it were an excluded part that constantly escapes from all human efforts to grasp it firmly.

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