The aim of this essay is to clarify one of the central themes in Georges Bataille's post-war writings, namely sovereignty. At the same time, it attempts to bring to light the intellectual tradition from which Bataille's thinking arises and to which it contributes. Three specific themes are addressed: the so-called community debate (Jean-Luc Nancy and Maurice Blanchot), Bataille's Hegelian influences (especially Alexandre Kojeve's reading of Hegel's phenomenology), and the possible affinities between Bataille's understanding of sovereign enjoyment and Lacan's “other” jouissance. Through these admittedly brief and suggestive investigations, the essay can hopefully elucidate what Bataille understood as “contestation,” a rather specific form of critical thought and a confrontation with the Western traditions of knowledge and, further, examine the limitations and differences of this contestation in relation to what one could call “social criticism.
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