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Title page for ETD etd-12032010-142226

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Beaupre, Joel C
Author's Email Address joel.c.beaupre@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-12032010-142226
Title A Trial of Philosophy
Degree PhD
Department Philosophy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
David C. Wood Committee Chair
  • undergoing
  • suffering
  • Job (Biblical figure)
Date of Defense 2010-08-20
Availability unrestricted


Dissertation under the direction of Professor David C. Wood

This “trial of philosophy” is of whether suffering, through a reading of Job, can arraign philosophy. I examine the form or law of thinking a specific loss of experience: that useless suffering cannot appear. Job is un-mournable – his suffering can only attain meaningfulness in terms supplied by the purportedly divine mechanism of retributive justice. Job’s lawsuit attempts to meaningfully bind his innocence, affliction, and the divinity’s violence together. Like Job’s lawsuit, I carry an exploration of suffering’s recalcitrance to formation into a destructive reading of both a repression of the text and philosophy’s attempt at responsiveness to the articulateness of material. Although acknowledged as constitutive of philosophical reflection, Erfahrung is subject to an aspiration to a perfect system, requiring careful parsing of differences between philosophies that attempt to defer reconciliation and resolution.

Job is not experienced by way of an illusion of an immediacy of Job’s “meaning” consistent with types of eschatological horizon. Like Job’s challenge to law (a violent administration of the world and axiomatic presuppositions as to the meaning of suffering), I attempt to challenge “lawful” resolutions of indeterminacy in interpretation. In an attempt to allow the sensuousness of Job to signify in its own right, I read against synthetic efforts to heal fissures in the text. In dialectical tension with the desire for univocality, I read Job as irredeemably “torn,” for preserving elements in their differences is generative of plural readings. Like the allusions in the text to a weave coming undone, Job mimes the modernist artwork’s resistance to form. By allowing the non-systematic to suffuse the practice of criticism, criticism becomes utterly useless for the perpetuation of the fear and hope of endoxa (an attempt to foreclose significances). I employ textual juxtapositions (e.g., Job and Kafka, for both K and Job are subject to the absence of written law) to mime the contemporary spirit of montage as the gathering of things ejected by the insistence that everything be properly placed. Job’s cry wanders homelessly through nested displacements, requiring a wandering reminiscent of Benjamin.

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