Altermodernity and the Ethics of Translation

Michael Larson


This essay considers the relational ontology behind Nicolas Bourriaud's conception of "altermodernity."  Bourriaud's notion of the altermodern is meant to diagnose our current emergence from the period of postmodernity.  In the altermodern, there is a rethinking of the attitude of modernity which involves a new thinking of subjectivity as constitutively relational, or "radicant."  This mode of subjectivity also implies a form of ethics, which Bourriaud calls an "ethics of translation."  This theme of the ethics of translation correlates closely with Paul Ricoeur's work on translation and I seek to interrogate this connection to further explore what an ethics of translation might entail.  Finally, I look to how this notion of modernity and relationality fits into the ontological framing found in the work of Jean-Luc Nancy, and the sort of politics entailed in this understanding of relationality.

An earlier draft of this essay was delivered at the Society for Ricoeur Studies Annual Meeting. October 30, 2009.


Nicolas Bourriaud; Paul Ricoeur; Jean-Luc Nancy; Altermodern; relational aesthetics

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