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Article

Russia's Atopic Nothingness: Ungrounding the World-Historical Whole with Pyotr Chaadaev

Chepurin K., Dubilet A.

This paper aims to rethink the peculiar conception of nothingness at work in Chaadaev’s key writings, the Philosophical Letters and the 1837 Apologia of a Madman, in which this nothingness, unbound by tradition, turns into a total, even revolutionary, ungrounding of the world-whole. This paper works with and through Chaadaev’s texts to expose his conception of immanent nothingness or the void of the Real that completely annihilates or empties out the mechanisms of history and tradition, thereby radically imploding the machinery of modernity. It is our hope that, as a result, Chaadaev’s position appears not only as a neglected genealogical element to contemporary critiques of modernity and its logic of reproduction through tradition and futurity, but also as a contribution to the ongoing critical rethinking of this logic in contemporary theory.  Our aim in what follows is less to dwell with the fact that the non-historical void is, in Chaadaev, named “Russia” than it is to traverse the problematic of this terra nullius in order to make visible its aporias and ambivalences, as well as its real utopian force.