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Spring 2024


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New on Syndicate
A Discussion of No One’s Ways: An Essay on Infinite Naming

In a new discussion forum on Syndicate, Julia Ng leads an examination of Daniel Heller-Roazen’s No One’s Ways: An Essay on Infinite Naming. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full discussion. An excerpt appears below:

“It is the great merit of Daniel Heller-Roazen’s extraordinarily rich and ambitious book, No One’s Ways, to have not only posed this very question but to have tracked its career through the centuries from the perspective of one such excluded element, the deceptively innocuous particle ‘non-.’ From the earliest constructions of propositional logic, terms such as ‘non-man” have been consigned to the domain of the ‘indefinite’: not a name for something, yet not quite the same as a negation either, such non-words have had to inhabit a region beyond the purview of the syllogistic proof, since they invoke neither something nor its logical negation, but rather everything besides the definite thing. Eventually, these indefinite terms acquired a new identity—the ‘infinite name’—under which the indefinite expanse of possible non-significations is simultaneously refused and affirmed, denied and contained, for fear that the ‘anything but’ would undermine the ‘everything’ that a ‘thing’ can be said to be. Going far beyond a simple reconstruction of the history of logic and its companion disciplines,No One’s Ways proffers a wholly new look at the logics of exclusion from the standpoint of an equivocation that underlies the very construal of that logic. This equivocation, it argues, is traceable from the very first treatises devised for the purpose of securing logic’s borders against the possibility that infinitization would fracture the unicity of the predicative statement. Moreover, inasmuch as we, as speaking beings, are endowed with the sheer grammatical capacity to enunciate the name of anything that is not some definite thing, this threat cannot not persist. For Heller-Roazen, much of the history of philosophy, ranging from Aristotle’s medieval interpreters to Leibniz and Kant and through the German Idealists and their epigones, can thus be recast as a preoccupation with controlling the extrinsic and intrinsic partitioning that the infinite name promises to visit upon what is.“