Questions for Listening, an excerpt

Questions for Listening

A selective excerpt from Listening, 2007 [2002] by Jean-Luc Nancy.

Within the first few pages, pages one to five, Jean-Luc Nancy writes among others the following questions:

Is listening something which philosophy is capable? Or – we’ll insist a little, despite everything, at the risk of exaggerating the point – hasn’t philosophy superimposed upon listening, beforehand and of necessity, or else substituted for listening, something else that might be more on the order of understanding?


Isn’t the philosopher someone who always hears (and who hears everything), but who cannot listen, or who more precisely, neutralizes listening within himself, so that he can philosophize?


Why and how can there be one or several difference(s) of “senses” in general, and also difference(s) between perceiving senses and the perceived meaning, “sensed sense” [les sense sensibles et le sens sansé]?


What does it mean for a being to be immersed entirely in listening, formed by listening or in listening, listening with all his being?


What secret is at stake when one truly listens, that is, when one tries to capture or surprise the sonority rather than the message? What secret is yielded – hence also made public – when we listen to a voice, an instrument, or a sound just for itself?


What does to be listening, to be all ears, as one would say “to be in the world,” mean?


What does it mean to exist according to listening, for it and through it, what part of experience and truth is put into play?


What is at play in listening, what resonates in it, what is the tone of listening or its timbre?


Is even listening itself sonorous?

After these questions, after page five, he barely asks another (explicit) question throughout the entirety of his book of 85 pages. How can that be?








One could then ask: what is a listening question? In what way might we conceptualize listening as always already also a practice of questioning?