Intellectual and the Victim: Towards a Nonanthropology

Who is an intellectual? an intellectual does exhibit authority over people. He/she plays as a figure of wisdom. Intellectual clarifies, analyses and resolves ambiguities and claims to reveal the truth. Francois Laurelle critics this economy of the intellectual. Intellectuals often fall into fanaticism and mythologies. This is why Laurelle invites us to interrogate how the action of the intellectuals might reinscribe power at the next level and thus, their work might only perpetuate injustice in the name of justice. Foucault has already questioned the act of speaking for others. Such speaking in the name of the others as well as speaking for the others is an act of silencing or infantalization. This is a non-totalizing position. An intellectual does not totalize or digest or assimilate the whole position of the victim or the oppressed. Foucault teaches that the intellectual’s role is no longer to stay ahead and to the side to express the stifled truth of the victims of oppression rather he/ she is challenged to struggle against the forms of power that transforms him/her into object and instruments in the sphere of knowledge, truth, consciousness and discourse. Laurelle claims that we need a new theory of the intellectual from the perspective of nonphilosophy.

Laurelle maintains that nonphilosophical perspective of the intellectual is non-authoritarian and victim-centred. He says that an intellectual is called to be determined by the victim. The intellectual is thus, contingent and characterized by the victim. This means that intellectual does not arise spontaneously from the people or from the consciousness of avant garde illuminating what remains of the proletariat. He says that an intellectual occupy a new sphere of intellectual existence in the world. He/she has the challenge to generate victim thinking without assuming the power of the philosopher of the victim. This means the intellectual of nonphilosophical position is one who is thrown into the victim in the Heideggerian sense but is not in the midst of the victims. This intellectual is not a representative or the spokes-person of the victim but a witness cloned from victims by Victim-in-person who does not assign ethical values apriori but allows the values to determine themselves according to the true reality of the victims. Thus, the intellectual sees the victims in-person and not as representations that are over determined as the persecuted, the powerless , the enslaved and the like. Thus, the victim is understood as Victim-in-person transforms the role of the intellectual vis-à-vis victims. This means the intellectual is under-determined by the condition of the victim and acts without claiming to be able to determine or define the victim.

The notion of victim is not predetermined absolute victim-in-itself. Victim exists pre-predicatively prior to thought and representation allowing us to understand what is human of- the-last-instance. This means Laurelle views Victim-in-person as a Human-in-person. This human is neither a political or psychological subject but is an effect of the Real-in-the-last-instance who has a relation to the world. It does represent humanity in-the-last-instance and yet is not represented in any specific way . Laurelle thus, theorises and makes room to think of those sufferings that remain unrepresented and often eclipsed by lofty ideals and causes that crusaders champions. This is why may be we have the challenge to look at the victim away from the master/slave dialectic of Hegel. Only thinking outside this dialectic that an intellectual can see how human struggle in not some universal struggle of the world but is separate from the world in-the- last-instance. Thus, the Victim-in-person is not trapped in history but stays outside it and each victim is unique in his/her struggle.

All humans are vulnerable and can be persecuted. This is the reality of all humans. The role of the intellectual is to assist the victims to become ordinary messiahs who are capable of bringing about an insurrectional future world with new possibilities for justice. This is a new way of thinking that is far away from divisive thinking that divides humanity between criminals and victims. This means the dialectical relation that philosophy upholds is rejected by nonphilosophy. It looks at the criminals and victims from the last-instance and locates the superimposition of the layers of two. In other words, there is no absolute victim or criminal. Even the intellectual can be a victim or criminal. In- the-last-instance a intellectual is a victim. This means the intellectual working with nonphilosophy has the challenge to think of victims non-representationally and in accordance to Victim-in-person as part of humanity in general. Laurelle states that proper relationship of an intellectual to a victim is one of compassion. He speaks of compassion as insurrection. This compassion is not pity. Pity makes the intellectual operate from the position of power and superiority. Hence, compassion is one that comes from the level of equality among humanity and comes from the fact that we are already victims simply by virtue of being human. Hence, we need a non-standard ethics (Nonethics) to deal with victims in-the-last-instance.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao