Modernity as Exception and Miracle

By Eduardo Sabrovsky
Translated by Javier Burdman
Introduction by Peter Fenves

Subjects: Philosophy Of Literature, Literary Theory, Literary Criticism, Philosophy, Comparative Literature
Series: SUNY series, Intersections: Philosophy and Critical Theory
Paperback : 9781438479163, 220 pages, January 2021
Hardcover : 9781438479156, 220 pages, August 2020

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Table of contents

Preface to the English Edition

Preface to the Spanish Edition

Introduction: From the Transcendental, through the Extraordinary, to "Perpetual Peace"
Peter Fenves

1. Musil's Death

2. The Extraordinary, History

3. The Extraordinary, Myth

4. The Works of Science

5. Nietzsche: The Incombustible in Reason

6. The Truth Is That There Is No Truth

7. The Endless Sacrifice: Art and the Production of the Extraordinary

8. Outline for an Ethics of Immortality

9. Politics of Space and of the Gaze

10. Notes on the Spectrality of Objects

11. Psychoanalysis: The Future of an Illusion


Proposes "the extraordinary" as a defining characteristic of modernity.


Translated from the Spanish De lo extraordinario: Nominalismo y Modernidad, this book argues that a defining aspect of modernity is an ever-increasing pursuit of, and need for, what Eduardo Sabrovsky calls "the extraordinary," a term that encompasses both the exception and the miraculous. Sabrovsky shows the degree to which Robert Musil's novel The Man without Qualities functions as a paradoxical paradigm of the extraordinary, and he extends the theoretical insights drawn from Musil's magisterial work through a series of inquiries into cardinal elements of modern literature, material culture, historiography, physical science, psychoanalysis, and political theory. Sabrovsky demonstrates how the extraordinary condition of modernity emerges from the debates conducted by the last representatives of medieval scholasticism in which nominalism defeated realism, and he resituates the results of this triumph of nominalism in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and Georges Bataille, among others.

Eduardo Sabrovsky is Professor at the Instituto de Humanidades, Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago, Chile. His previous books include El Filósofo como productor: Ensayos sobre politíca y filosofía del acontecimiento; Chile, tiempos interesantes: A 40 años del Golpe Militar; and De l'extraordinaire: Nominalisme et modernité. Javier Burdman is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at the University of Strasbourg.