Thinking Without Authority: Performance Philosophy as the Democracy of Thought

Tony Fisher


Performance philosophy commences with an impertinent gesture when it describes itself as inaugurating a ‘new field’ of study.  Accompanying that claim is a radical proposition that ‘performance thinks’; that it should be counted as a form of philosophising in its own right.  But in what sense can performance be construed as ‘genuinely’ philosophical thought?  Taking my cue from Laura Cull’s alignment of performance philosophy with Laruelle’s practice of ‘non philosophy’ – and specifically, with its introduction of ‘democracy’ into the dispositives of ‘standard’ philosophy in order to challenge its transcendental authority over the Real – I argue that performance philosophy might be seen to enact a similar disruption of the ‘dispositives’ of performance theory.  This, however, is only partly what is at stake in the fundamental proposition of performance philosophy, and I conclude by suggesting that a more radical proposal lies behind its assertion of a new ‘field’ – one that does not reduce it to an empirical fact, but grasps it as a radical ‘utopian’ hypothesis designed to ‘open up’ the philosophical dimension of performance itself; utopian because what performance offers – seen in this way - is not simply another system of representation but a possible democratic thought of the Real itself.

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Cited by:

1. Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca. 2017. "Die Gleichsetzung von Theater und Philosophie: Laruelle, Badiou & Gesten der Autorität in der Philosophie des Theaters." Performance Philosophy 3 (2).

2. Hannah Lammin. 2018. "Krisis as the Scene of Non-Decisional Judgement: A Performance Fiction for the Generic Human." Performance Philosophy 4 (1).

3. Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca. 2017. "Equalizing Theatre and Philosophy: Laruelle, Badiou, and gestures of authority in the philosophy of theatre." Performance Philosophy 3 (3).


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