Eric Hayot (Penn State), “The One and the Many”

[This is one of the final scenes in the video game The Last of Us. Ellie, who is the only human to have survived a zombie bite in this post-apocalyptic world, has been on the run with Joel, a mercenary who has contracted to deliver her safely to a Denver hospital where she will be examined by medical researchers (associated with a group called the “Fireflies”). Joel, whose daughter was lost during the initial phases of the apocalypse, falls in parental love with Ellie over the course of their journey. At journey’s end, they arrive at the hospital, where it turns out that Ellie’s brain will have to be removed (with her consent/knowledge) in order to begin to synthesize a vaccine for the virus; this vaccine will permit the restoration of the human lifeworld. Unable to bear the prospect of losing a second daughter, Joel breaks into the hospital, kills the doctors, and carries an unconscious Ellie out of the hospital and into his car. At this moment, Ellie is waking up; Joel is driving them back to a remote compound where his brother lives.]

This presentation begins with Kant: with the problem of the relation between the general and the particular, the large and the small, theory and example, quantity and quality. I use these terms to examine the role affection plays in the distribution of worth and value, not only for the history of philosophy, but also for the history of the formation of disciplines in the university. Such reflections offer an alternative approach for thinking about the ways in which the loss of that which is compressed-when-stored (not all things are compressed when stored) figures in both the history of epistemology, and the history of ethics.