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Alex Dubilet


Alex Dubilet is a Senior Lecturer in the Departments of English and Political Science at Vanderbilt University. He received his Ph.D. in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014.

Dubilet works across the fields of contemporary continental philosophy, critical theory, political theology, philosophy of religion, modern and contemporary political theory, history and theory of Christianity mysticism, critical study of secularity and secularism, and film and film theory.

Against the two dominant ethical paradigms – Emmanuel Levinas’s ethics of the other and Michel Foucault’s ethics of self-cultivation – Dubilet’s first book, The Self-Emptying Subject: Kenosis and Immanence, Medieval to Modern (Fordham, 2018), theorizes an ethics of self-emptying, or kenosis, one that reveals the immanence of an impersonal and dispossessed life without a why. Rather than align immanence with the enclosures of the subject, The Self-Emptying Subject engages the history of Christian mystical theology, modern philosophy, and contemporary theories of the subject to rethink immanence as what precedes and exceeds the very difference between the (human) self and the (divine) other, between the subject and transcendence. By arguing that transcendence operates on life in secular as well as religious domains, the book challenges a dominant distribution of concepts within contemporary theoretical discourse, which associates transcendence exclusively with religion and theology and immanence exclusively with modern secularity and philosophy.

Dubilet is currently working on two solo projects: 1) an exploration of the way contemporary continental philosophy’s theorizations of immanence, the world, and desubjectivation can transform critical debates on secularity and secularism; 2) a reexamination of the persistent critical import of early 20th century debates on political theology, focused especially on the thought of Georges Bataille.

Dubilet is also engaged in several on-going col