Listening: Jean-Luc Nancy and the "anti-ocular" turn in continental philosophy and critical theory

Adrienne Janus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


This essay analyses Jean-Luc Nancy’s recent work, À L’Écoute (2002) / Listening (2007) as a culminate moment in what might be called the ‘anti-ocular’ turn in continental philosophy. It situates Nancy within a genealogy of ‘otocentric’ thinkers, from Martin Heidegger to Peter Sloterdijk, and from Jacques Attali, to Didier Anzieu and Luce Irigary. These figures not only offer a critique of vision as the dominant paradigm in Western thought. They also develop a positive model that attends to the possibilities offered by listening to reintegrate modes of sensual perception excluded by ‘ocularcentrism’ and the conceptual abstraction associated with it. As exemplified in part by Martin Jay’s otherwise admirable ‘synoptic survey’ of ‘anti-ocularcentric’ discourse in 20th century French thought, however, the importation and translation of these ‘otocentric’ figures into the field of anglo-phone critical theory, if they are acknowledged at all, tends to allow the visual paradigm to reassert itself again, if only as the object of endless deconstructive critique.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-202
Number of pages21
JournalComparative Literature
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011


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