Being and the Between

By William Desmond

Subjects: Metaphysics
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791422724, 557 pages, March 1995
Hardcover : 9780791422717, 557 pages, March 1995

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Table of contents


Part I: Metaphysical Thinking and the Senses of Being

1. What is Metaphysical Thinking? Mind, Being, and the Between

The Question of Being
The Doubling of Metaphysical Perplexity
Agapeic Astonishment
Erotic Perplexity and the Completion of Metaphysics
Metaphysical Thinking and Univocity
Metaphysical Thinking and Equivocity
Metaphysics and Transcendental Thought
Metaphyscial Thinking and Hegelian Idealism
Metaxological Metaphysics and Born-Again Perplexity
The Others of Metaphysics - Art, Religion, and Science
Metaphysical Thinking and Being Between

2. Being and Univocity

Prelapsarian/Postlapsarian Univocity
Ontological and Logical Univocity
Cartesian Univocity
Post-Cartesian and Transcendental Univocity
Univocity and the Universal Mechanism
The Self-Deconstruction of the Mechanism of Univocity
Beyond Univocity

3. Being and Equivocity

Univocity, Correctness, and the Milieu of Truth
The Indispensability of the Equivocal
Equivocity and the Aesthetics of Being
The Mathesis of Nature, the Poiesis of Naturing
The Equivocal Flower: On the Orchid
The Acme of Equivocity: The Human Being
Philosophers: Equivocaters on the Equivocal
Equivocity and Incommensurability

4. Being and Dialectic

The Equivocity of the Equivical - A Pointer Beyond
Dialectic and the Philosophical Tradition
Dialectic and Beings
Dialectic and Human Beings
Dialectic and the Happening of the Between
Hegelian Dialectic, Being and the Between

5. Being and the Metaxological

The Plurivocity of Being and the Metaxological
The Metaxological and the Play of Indeterminacy and Determination
Beings and the Show of Excess - Singularity and the "That it is"
Excess, Mindfulness, and the Human Being
The Metaxological and the Community of Beings
The Metaxological and the Happening of the Between
The Way of Transcendence - From Metaphor to Hyperbole

Part II: Being and the Between - A Metaphysics

6. Origin

The Question of Origin
Mindfulness, Transcendence, and Finitude
Univocity, Origin, and the One
Antinomy, Origin, and the One
The Dialectical One, the Erotic Origin
The Exceeding One, the Agapeic Origin
What Then?

7. Creation: The Universal Impermanence

Creation and Beginning Again
The Elemental and Rapturous Univocity
Heterogeneity and Equivocal Process
Mediated Becoming and Dialectic
The Middle World of Creation/The Universal Impermanence

8. Things

Things and Mere Things
The Unity and Spread of Things
The Plurivocal Presencing of Things
Overdetermined Presencing/The Intimacy of the Proper
Things and Community

9. Intelligibilities

The Question of Intelligibility
Intelligibility Produced and Inherent: The Possibilizing of Possibility
Darwing a Line - Intelligibility and Univocity
Intelligibility and the Challenge of Equivocity - On Contradiction, Sufficient Reason, Causality
Intelligibility and Dialectic
Intelligibility and the Metaxological

10. Selves

The Idiot Self and Univocity
Aesthetic Selving and Equivocity
Aesthetic Selving and Mediation: Desire, Imagination, Memory
Erotic Selving and Dialectic
Agapeic Selving and the Metaxological

11. Communities

Being Related
Nature and Community
Self-Relating Sociability and Communicative Doubling
The Community of Distracted Desire
The Community of Erotic Sovereignty
The Community of Agapeic Service
Transformed Relations and Agapeic Participation

12. Being True

Truth and Being True
Truth, Correspondence, and Univocity
Truth, Equivocity, and Skepticism
Truth, Coherence, and Power
Truthfulness and the Agapeic Service of Transcendence
Truthfulness and the Excess of the Origin

13. Being Good

Being True, Transcendence, Being Good
Ontological Goodness and Nihilism
Evil and the Equivocity of the Good
Dialectic and the Good
Beyond the Dialectic of the Good
Good beyond Good and Evil
The Agape of the Good
Service of the Good Nihilism


This is the culmination of a systematic metaphysics written by a world-class philosopher, demonstrating the need for a renewal of metaphysics.


As Plato told us long ago, the human being is neither a god nor a beast, but someone in between. Philosophy too is in between. How do we philosophize in between? W hat is the being of the between? This book answers the question in the most comprehensive terms possible. It offers an original understanding of metaphysical thinking and the fundamental senses of being, namely, the univocal, equivocal, dialectical, and metaxological senses.

Part I of Being and the Between focuses on the nature of metaphysics, the question of being, in terms of the above fourfold sense. Part II develops a metaphysics of being as between, relative to our basic perplexities, concerning origin, creation, things, intelligibilities, selves, communities, being true, being good. The book calls for a generous hermeneutical rethinking of the philosophical tradition. Major figures and positions are reinterpreted. Desmond addresses the issue, common since Hegel, endemic since Heidegger, concerning the end of metaphysics. Granting a proper understanding of the between, Desmond believes that we need a resurrection of metaphysics, where the old perplexities, ever new, stand before us again.

William Desmond is Professor of Philosophy, and Director of the International Program in Philosophy, in the Higher Institute of Philosophy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Louvain), Belgium. He is the author of Art and the Absolute: A Study of Hegel's Aesthetics; Philosophy and Its Others: Ways of Being and Mind; Beyond Hegel and Dialectic: Speculation, Cult, and Comedy (all published by SUNY Press); and Desire, Dialectic and Otherness. He is the editor of Hegel and His Critics, also published by SUNY Press. He is a past President of the Hegel Society of America and is currently President of the Metaphysical Society of America. He is general editor of the SUNY series in Hegelian Studies.


"What I like most about the book is that it is a fully developed, comprehensively argued, philosophical system. There are precious few of these, for reasons Desmond discusses, and here is one, all in one book. Although anticipated in Desmond's earlier books, here is the system fully expressed in Western philosophy. His erudition is exquisite, yet his expositions make this book wonderfully useful for philosophy majors who would be excited to read a philosopher interacting with the figures to which they have been introduced. " -- Robert C. Neville