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Victor J. Vitanza - Seminars / Workshop / Lectures

JEAN FRANCOIS LYOTARD: Hesitating Thought (Just Gaming, Libidinal Economy, Differend) (3 Credits)

Victor J. Vitanza, Ph.D.

Description: This course is an introduction to select major works by Jean-François Lyotard. Jean-François Lyotard, we often hear, was potentially a friend to everyone—always (all ways) there for anyone who needed his thoughts, or rather, his hesitating thoughts in conversation with others. The term "hesitating" in the title of this seminar, however, connotes a pejorative thought. And yet, some how or other the act of hesitation can be an act of virtue. The thinking of the "hesitation" is the thinking of a Sophistic, Kantian, Third-Sophistic, Neo-Kantian, philosopher through the sublimity of thinking itself, or through reading a textual sublimity itself. It's a thinking of the Event (Ereignis). While in Saas-Fee, high up in the Alps, there is sublimity all around us, e.g., in the scars all along the mountainscapes (manifested in the logic of the sublime cuts of raggedy rocks all around us when we are climbing, dancing, weaving, zigzagging our ways around the abysses and through the various alpine angles).

Hesitation avails itself through stops and starts, restarts, still more restarts. Hesitation is practiced through montage-reading-thinking-writing. The Event. Hesitation in evoking sublimity can, in turn, evoke terror, awe, and fear. Or as others say in a different vocabulary: Dislocation. JumpCut. Relocation. JumpCut. Can evoke Distantiation. Estrangement. Resulting in feelings of stupidity. Before the other. The text or the jagged-scape or the distantiated film opens up a colossus of possibilities, or rather incompossibilities (i.e., a libidinal economy of coexistent worlds).

Objectives: Students shall engage The Impossible Consensus (paralogy, dissensus, rather than sensus communis) as well as JFL's reworking of the "communication triangle," with a reemphasis on the addressee without an addressor. Students will gain an understanding of the three pragmatic positions (the Parmenides game, Moses game, and Pagan game). The differences between Description and Prescription in these language games. We will examine hesitating thought, or becoming situated between the Sophists and Kant (and a passing look at both Aristotle and Kant as Sophists). At the end of the course students will understand the differences between a Political Economy and a Libidinal Economy, and how the two complement the other. We will gain an understanding of The Great Ephemeral Skin (Film) and The Desire named Marx. Imperative of the course is the impossibility of Descriptives (determinative) controlling Prescriptives (reflective, indeterminative) and thereby creating a Differend. Silence as a phrase regimen. We will engage the task of identifying Differends (phrases in dispute) so as to bear witness to new idioms. And last but not least let's be pagan!.

Learning Outcomes: Students will have learned the philosophical positioning of Lyotard and his importance to current academic debates. This class positions the post graduate student to incorporate Lyotard's work within a larger philosophical context in relation to their dissertation and thesis projects. Students will be prepared for teaching Lyotard at their home institution and special focus will work on applying Lyotard in creative formats as well for the artists in the course.

Required Readings and Assignments:

We will read—through an economy of hesitations—three major works of Lyotard:

Lyotard, Jean-François, Jean-Loup Thèbaud, Wlad Godzich (Translator) and Samuel Weber (Afterword). Just Gaming. University of Minnesota Press. October 1985. Hardcover, 128 pages, Language French, ISBN: 0816612811. Buy it at,,, or Paperback, ISBN: 0816612773. Buy it at,,, or

Lyotard, Jean-François and Ian Hamilton Grant (Translator). The Libidinal Economy. Theories of Contemporary Culture Series. Indiana University Press. July 1992. Hardcover, Language English, ISBN: 0253336147. Buy it at,,, or Paperback, ISBN: 0253207282. Buy it at,,, or

Lyotard, Jean-François, Wlad Godzich, Georges Vaan Den Abbeele (Translator). The Differend: Phrases in Dispute. Theory and History of Literature, 46. Manchester University Press. December 1988. Paperback, Language English, ISBN: 0816616116. Buy it at,,, or

Internet Resources:

Jean-François Lyotard Information on the EGS Website.
Some JFL Texts are located here.


Victor J. Vitanza and Diane Davis, Ph.D.

Description: Stressing the need for reassessment, these three conceptual starting places and the complicated differences among them will be explored as the grounds for 'other' than the so-called real. Primarily we will discuss the notion of thirds. Instead of limiting ourselves to hardward-software notions of the virtual or hyper-this or -that, in un/workshop, we will be concerned with a variety of ways thinkers have thought about third figures or positions as a condition for possibilities of rather different notions of ethical-political agency. (The allusion here should perhaps be to wetware, but we don't want to limit a third to simply and exclusively wetware.) Why thirds? We do not want to get stuck in the discourse of binaries or of "-jectivities," such as sub-jects, ob-jects, and then the third known as ab-jects. But if we would have to, then, the term that we would feel politically and ethically more dis-comforted by would be the third super-ject or super-fold (see Deleuze in his -The Fold-).

Learning Objectives: Thirds present us with a whole new way of thinking about relations between and among entities. Thirds, as a locus, rather an alocus, or atopos, are the concerns of many thinkers of the political and the ethical (ethos, ethea). In thinking thirds, however, we will be thinking the VIRTUAL in its many ramifications. We will be concerned with third parapositions, e.g., as a way of reading "a life" (Deleuze) or a film (Duras's -Hiroshima-) or a video (Kipnis's -Marx-) or a political movement (Serres' incipient third world). The virtual is not by any means limited to the hardware approach.

Required Books and Reading Assignments:

Vitanza, Victor J. (Editor). CyberReader 2nd Edition. Longman. August 1998. Paperback, 528 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0205290868. Buy it at,,, or

Virilio, Paul. Open Sky Verso Books, New York and London. (August 1997) 144 pages, Paperback, ISBN: 1859841813. Buy it at,,, or

Eco, Umberto. Travels in Hyperreality. Mariner Books. 1990 Paperback, 324 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0156913216. Buy it at,,, or

Recommended Readings:

Levy, Pierre. Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age. Basic Books. 1998. Hardcover, 207 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0306457881. Buy it at,,, or

Massumi, Brian, Stanley Fish (Editor) and Fredric Jameson (Editor). Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. Duke University Press. June 2002. Hardcover, 336 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0822328828. Buy it at,,, or Paperback, ISBN: 0822328976. Buy it at,,, or

Baudrillard, Jean and Sheila Faria Glaser (Translator). Simulacra and Simulation. University of Michigan Press. December 1994. Hardcover, Language English, ISBN: 0472095218. Buy it at,,, or January 1995, Paperback, ISBN: 0472065211. Buy it at,,, or

THE COMING COMMUNITY - (3 credit seminar)

Victor J. Vitanza, Ph.D. and Giorgio Agamben

Description: An introduction to the political philosophy, anthropology, and aesthetics of Giorgio Agamben. A questioning of how subjectivity (agency, identity) "thwarts" a discovery of community, with special focus on "whatever beings" or "singularities."

Learning Objectives: Students will be able to articulate and write on the following themes Prescription-Inscription (Serres), Imminent Reversibility (Baudrillard), Irreversibility (Agamben), Multiply Principles (Leibniz-Deleuze) and the Irreparable (Agamben). Students will have a firm grasp on Agamben's work and will be able to enter the academic debate over identity and the future of community as well as its principles for the current political economy of today.

Required Readings:

Agamben, Giorgio and Michael Hardt (Translation). The Coming Community. University of Minnesota Press. March 1993. Paperback, 105 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0816622353. Buy it at,, or

Agamben, Giorgio and Daniel Heller-Roazen (Editor and Translator). Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy. Stanford University Press. January 4, 2000. Paperback, 328 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0804732787. Buy it at,,, or

Agamben, Giorgio and Georgia Albert (Translation). The Man Without Content. Stanford University Press. Stanford. June 1999, Hardcover, Language English, ISBN: 0804735530. Buy it at,,, or

Recommended Readings:

Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. Penguin Classics. 2003. Paperback, 400 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0140449493. Buy it at,,, or

Nancy, Jean-Luc, Simona Sawhney (Translation), Peter Connor (ed). The Inoperative Community. University of Minnesota Press. June 1991. Paperback, 176 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0816619247.Buy it at,,, or

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil. Oxford University Press. 2009. Paperback, 240 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0199537070. Buy it at,,, or

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Birth of Tragedy. Penguin Classics. 1994. Paperback, 160 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0140433392. Buy it at,,, or

MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, Third Edition. University of Notre Dame Press. 2007. Paperback, 312 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0268035040. Buy it at,,, or

Williams, Bernard. Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. Harvard University Press. 1986. Paperback, 284 pages, Language English, ISBN: 067426858X. Buy it at,,, or

Stout, Jeffrey. Ethics After Babel. Princeton University Press. 2001. Paperback, 372 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0691070814. Buy it at,,, or

EARLY GREEK PHILOSOPHY: Pre-Platonic or Pre-Socratic Fragments? (3 credit Workshop)

Victor J. Vitanza, Ph.D.

Description: The workshop will provide a user's guide to select fragments attributed to Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaximander, Protagoras, Zeno, and Gorgias (the older sophist) and demonstrate how Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Milan Kundera appropriated the texts differently.

Required Books and Reading Assignments:

Friedrich Nietzsche, Marianne Cowan, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks. Paperback, 117 pages, Regnery Publishing, ISBN: 0895267101. Buy it at,,, or

Martin Heidegger, Early Greek Thinking. Paperback: 144 pages, Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers. ISBN: 0060638427. Buy it at,,, or

Kundera, Milan. Immortality. Paperback, 352 pages, Perennial. ISBN: 0060932384. Buy it at,,, or

Vitanza, Victor J. Negation, Subjectivity, and The History of Rhetoric. State University of New York Press. November 1996. Paperback, 428 pages, Language English, ISBN: 079143124X. Buy it at,,, or