Pamplona Social Justice lecture

“The Discourse of Social Justice in a Negative Theological Perspective,” Lecture Series: Lecturas sobre religión y sociedad civil, Institute for Culture and Society (ICS), University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, January 21, 2020

Jan 16


Next , Jan. 21, 6.30 pm : Comparative Literature Prof. William Franke, “On the Universality of What is Not: The Turn in


Postmodern Identity Politics and the Social Tyranny of the Definable

Beyond the proliferating multiplicity of identities in the contemporary political arena based on cultures, languages, regions, religions, nations, sexes, classes, and special interests, what makes us truly one without limits, without exclusions and restrictions—is nothing. Precisely Nothing. And nothing is more important for us to grasp than this, in order to be able to live together on our shrinking, globalized planet. This nothing is the nothing specifiable or stateable of the single individual, the person herself or himself intimated or divined behind or beyond all categories and groupings into which his or her specific differences can be fit. It is the nakedness of our person. That is what is truly universal. All fundamentally are this nakedness: in it alone, all are equal. Without any support from outside, without superiority of class, gender, race, or social standing, the naked self stands alone in the dignity of having nothing to disguise it or to answer for it, no alibi but itself. As such, each of us can stand out, ex-ist (from the Greek ἵστημι, to stand or make stand) in the full stature of our uniqueness and, at the same time, our universality.  This is a universality of being nothing—nothing that can be said or specified.

William Franke

Vanderbilt University



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