Singularity, Individuality and the Delimitation of Life

  • Samuel Weber Northwestern University


This article seeks to develop some of the critical implications of the notion of “singularity”, once it is distinguished from that of “individual” with which it is often confused.  The singular is construed here as an “aporetical” (Derrida) notion insofar as it can only be experienced through a dissemination and pluralization that excludes any sort of simple self-identity. Its complex relationship to notions of “I” (ego), “self”, and alterity are considered both from a historical perspective and from a conceptual one. The article draws from Walter Benjamin’s discussion of Luther in his book on the Origins of the German Mourning Play, in order to explore some of its consequences for the contemporary political situation, in particular in the United States.