, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 145-150
Date: 24 Apr 2011

Claude Lefort: a political biography

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Let me begin by noting that Lefort would never have endorsed the title given to this talk, a title which seems to infer a conceivable separation between the strictly political aspects of his life and work, and the philosophical, professorial and private richness of his life.

This is a reworked text of the introductory lecture of the Memorial Symposium for Claude Lefort at The New School for Social Research (New York), October 30, 2010. Finding myself for the moment in Paris, and therefore separated from my library, I allowed myself to retranslate or to paraphrase in French the quotations from Lefort which I could not verify to the letter

Lefort fundamentally challenged the positivist conception of a society seen from above, composed of distinct and autonomous spheres—of economic, legal, theoretical and aesthetic authority—which would be recombined every time in a different way by different political regimes. He did not, it must be said, consider his own life on this positivist model of

Translation from the French by Don Beith, Phenomenology Research Center, Carbondale IL, 2011 (don.beith@mail.mcgill.ca). Additions were made from notes provided by the author. In preparing this translation I conferred with a French translation by Christian Ruby.