Thinking Without Authority: Performance Philosophy as the Democracy of Thought


  • Tony Fisher Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London



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.

Author Biography

Tony Fisher, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London

[email protected]

Tony Fisher is a senior lecturer at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. He has a PhD in philosophy from the University of Essex. He has published articles on radical democratic theatre, the aesthetics of the political in the work of Francis Alÿs, and on Castellucci’s theatre of ‘failed transcendence’, as well as on Heidegger and Sartre in journals such as Continental Philosophy Review and Sartre Studies International. He is also co-convenor of TaPRA’s Theatre, Performance and Philosophy working group.


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How to Cite

Fisher, Tony. 2015. “Thinking Without Authority: Performance Philosophy As the Democracy of Thought”. Performance Philosophy 1 (1):175-84.



Laruellian Re-visionings