The publication of Reading Capital—by Louis Althusser, Étienne Balibar, Roger Establet, Pierre Macherey, and Jacques Rancière—in 1965 marked a key intervention in Marxist philosophy and critical theory, bringing forth a stunning array of concepts that continue to inspire philosophical reflection of the highest magnitude. The Concept in Crisis reconsiders the volume’s reading of Marx and renews its call for a critique of capitalism and culture for the twenty-first century. The contributors—who include Alain Badiou, Étienne Balibar, and Fernanda Navarro—interrogate Althusser's contributions in particular within the context of what is surely the most famous collective reading of Marx ever undertaken. Among other topics, they offer a symptomatic critique of Althusser; consider his writing as a materialist production of knowledge; analyze the volume’s conceptualization of value and crisis; examine how leftist Latin American leaders like Che Guevara and Subcomandante Marcos engaged with Althusser and Reading Capital; and draw out the volume's implications and use for feminist theory and praxis. Retrieving the inspiration that drove Althusser's reinterpretation of Marx, The Concept in Crisis explains why Reading Capital's revolutionary inflection retains its critical appeal, prompting readers to reconsider Marx's relevance in an era of neoliberal capitalism.
Contributors. Emily Apter, Alain Badiou, Étienne Balibar, Bruno Bosteels, Adrian Johnston, Warren Montag, Fernanda Navarro, Nick Nesbitt, Knox Peden, Nina Power, Robert J. C. Young
Applying systems theory to the comedies of Chekhov, Balzac, Kleist, Moliere, and Shakespeare, A Concept of Dramatic Genre and the Comedy of a New Type: Chess, Literature, and Film approaches dramatic genre from the point of view of the degree of richness and strength of a character’s potential. Its main focus is to establish a methodology for analyzing the potential from multidimensional perspectives, using systems thinking. The whole concept is an alternative to the Aristotelian plot-based approach and is applied to an analysis of western and eastern European authors as well as contemporary American film.
This innovative study consists of three parts: The first part is mostly theoretical, proposing a new definition of the dramatic as a category linked to general systems phenomena and offering a new classification of dramatic genre. In the second part, Ulea offers a textual analysis of some works based on this new classification. She analyzes comedies, tragedies, and dramas on the same or similar topics in order to reveal what makes them belong to opposite types of dramatic genre.
Additionally, she considers the question of fate and chance, with regard to tragedy and comedy, from the point of view of the predispositioning theory. In the third part, Ulea explores an analysis of the comedy of a new type—CNT. Her emphasis is on the integration of the part and the whole in approaching the protagonist’s potential. She introduces the term quasi-strong potential in order to reveal the illusory strength of protagonists of the CNT and to show the technique of CNT’s analysis and synthesis.
Ulea’s research begins with the notion of the comic, traditionally considered synonymous with the laughable, and attempts to approach it as independent from the laughable and laughter. The necessity to do so is dictated by the desire to penetrate the enigmatic nature of Chekhov’s comedy. The result is A Concept of Dramatic Genre and the Comedy of a New Type: Chess, Literature, and Film, a completely new approach to potential and systems thinking—which has never been a focus of dramatic theory before. Such potential is the touchstone of the comic and comedy, their permanent basic characteristic, the heart and axis around which the comedic world spins.
"Liberty was the most cherished right possessed by English-speaking people in the eighteenth century. It was both an ideal for the guidance of governors and a standard with which to measure the constitutionality of government; both a cause of the American Revolution and a purpose for drafting the United States Constitution; both an inheritance from Great Britain and a reason republican common lawyers continued to study the law of England."
As John Philip Reid goes on to make clear, "liberty" did not mean to the eighteenth-century mind what it means today. In the twentieth century, we take for granted certain rights—such as freedom of speech and freedom of the press—with which the state is forbidden to interfere. To the revolutionary generation, liberty was preserved by curbing its excesses. The concept of liberty taught not what the individual was free to do but what the rule of law permitted. Ultimately, liberty was law—the rule of law and the legalism of custom. The British constitution was the charter of liberty because it provided for the rule of law.
Drawing on an impressive command of the original materials, Reid traces the eighteenth-century notion of liberty to its source in the English common law. He goes on to show how previously problematic arguments involving the related concepts of licentiousness, slavery, arbitrary power, and property can also be fit into the common-law tradition. Throughout, he focuses on what liberty meant to the people who commented on and attempted to influence public affairs on both sides of the Atlantic. He shows the depth of pride in liberty—English liberty—that pervaded the age, and he also shows the extent—unmatched in any other era or among any other people—to which liberty both guided and motivated political and constitutional action.
The Concept of Mind
Gilbert Ryle University of Chicago Press, 2003 Library of Congress BF161.R9 2002 | Dewey Decimal 128.2
This now-classic work challenges what Ryle calls philosophy's "official theory," the Cartesians "myth" of the separation of mind and matter. Ryle's linguistic analysis remaps the conceptual geography of mind, not so much solving traditional philosophical problems as dissolving them into the mere consequences of misguided language. His plain language and esstentially simple purpose place him in the traditioin of Locke, Berkeley, Mill, and Russell.
What is good political judgment? Is it a science subject to strict standards of logic and inference, or is it more like an art, the product of intuition, feeling, or even chance? Peter J. Steinberger shows how the seemingly contradictory claims of inference and intuition are reconciled in the concept of political judgment.
Resting his argument on the larger notion of judgment itself, Steinberger develops an original model of how political judgments are made and how we justify calling some of them "good." His systematic analysis of such thinkers as Machiavelli, Kant, Gadamer, Wittgenstein, and Oakeshott introduces an original notion of judgment as "intelligent performance," incorporating both intuition and rational reconstruction.
Steinberger's conclusion—that a coherent political society must also be a judgmental one—flies in the face of much contemporary thinking.
"Americans did not rebel from Great Britain because they wanted a different government. They rebelled because they believed that Parliament was violating constitutional precepts. Colonial Whigs did not fight for American rights. They fought for English rights."—from the Preface
John Phillip Reid goes on to argue that it was generally the application, not the definition, of these rights that was disputed. The sole—and critical—exception concerned the right of representation. American perceptions of the responsibility of representatives to their constituents, the necessity of equal representation, and the constitutional function of consent had diverged gradually, but significantly, from British tradition. Drawing on his mastery of eighteenth-century legal thought, Reid explores the origins and shifting meanings of representation, consent, arbitrary rule, and constitution. He demonstrates that the controversy which led to the American Revolution had more to do with jurisprudential and constitutional principles than with democracy and equality. This book will interest legal historians, Constitutional scholars, and political theorists.
In this, his most influential work, legal theorist and political philosopher Carl Schmitt argues that liberalism's basis in individual rights cannot provide a reasonable justification for sacrificing oneself for the state. This edition of the 1932 work includes the translator's introduction (by George Schwab) which highlights Schmitt's intellectual journey through the turbulent period of German history leading to the Hitlerian one-party state. It also includes Leo Strauss's analysis of Schmitt's thesis and a foreword by Tracy B. Strong placing Schmitt's work into contemporary context.
In this, his most influential work, legal theorist and political philosopher Carl Schmitt argues that liberalism’s basis in individual rights cannot provide a reasonable justification for sacrificing oneself for the state—a critique as cogent today as when it first appeared. George Schwab’s introduction to his translation of the 1932 German edition highlights Schmitt’s intellectual journey through the turbulent period of German history leading to the Hitlerian one-party state. In addition to analysis by Leo Strauss and a foreword by Tracy B. Strong placing Schmitt’s work into contemporary context, this expanded edition also includes a translation of Schmitt’s 1929 lecture “The Age of Neutralizations and Depoliticizations,” which the author himself added to the 1932 edition of the book. An essential update on a modern classic, The Concept of the Political, Expanded Edition belongs on the bookshelf of anyone interested in political theory or philosophy.
In this book, Michael Brown provides original and critical analysis of the state of the social sciences and the humanities. He examines the different disciplines that address human affairs--from sociology, philosophy, political science, and anthropology to the humanities in general--to understand their common ground. He probes the ways in which we investigate the meaning of individuality in a society for which individuals are not the agents of the activities in which they participate, and he develops a critical method for studying the relations among activities, objects, and situations.
The Concept of the Social in Uniting the Humanities and Social Sciences restores the centrality of sociality to all disciplines that provide for and depend on the social dimension of human life. Ultimately, he establishes a theory of the unity of the human sciences that will surely make readers rethink the current state and future of theory in those fields for years to come.
In 1859 a Hungarian obstetrician named Ignaz Semmelweis, reflecting on his years as resident in the Vienna maternity clinic, wrote a graphic account of his attempt to diagnose and eliminate the then epidemic scourge of childbed fever. The resulting Etiology triggered an immediate and international squall of protest from Semmelweis’s colleagues; today it is recognized as a pioneering classic of medical history. Now, for the first time in many years, Codell Carter makes that classic available to the English-speaking reader in this vivid translation of the 1861 original, augmented by footnotes and an explanatory introduction. For students and scholars of medical history and philosophy, obstetrics and women’s studies, the accessibility of this moving and revolutionary work, important both as an historical document and as a groundbreaking precursor of modern medical theory, is long overdue.
Semmelweis’s exposure to the childbed fever was concurrent with his appointment to the Vienna maternity hospital in 1846. Like many similar hospitals and clinics in the major cities of nineteenth-century Europe and America, where death rates from the illness sometimes climbed as high as 40 percent of admitted patients, the Viennese wards were ravaged by the fever. Intensely troubled by the tragic and baffling loss of so many young mothers, Semmelweis sought answers. The Etiology was testimony to his success. Based on overwhelming personal evidence, it constituted a classic description of a disease, its causes, and its prevention. It also allowed a necessary response to the obstetrician’s already vocal, rabid, and perhaps predictable critics. For Semmelweis’s central thesis was a startling one - the fever, he correctly surmised, was caused not by epidemic or endemic influences but by unsterilized and thus often contaminated hands of the attending physicians themselves.
Carter’s translation of this radical work, judiciously abridged and extensively footnoted, captures all the drama and impassioned conviction of the original. Complementing this translation is a lucid introduction that places Semmelweis’s Etiology in historical perspective and clarifies its contemporary value. That value, Carter argues, is considerable. Important as a model of clinical analysis and as a chronicle of early nineteenth-century obstetrical practices, the Etiology is also a revolutionary polemic in its innovative doctrine of antisepsis and in its unique etiological explanation of disease. As such its recognition and reclamation allows a crucial understanding, one that clarifies the roots and theory of modern medicine and ultimately redeems and important, resolute, pathfinder.
The idea that the United States—a nation founded after a war of independence—operates as an imperialist power on the world stage has gained considerable traction since the turn of the twenty-first century. But just a few decades earlier, this position was considered radical and even “un-American.” How did this dramatic change come about?
Tracing the emergence of the concept of US imperialism, James G. Morgan shows how radical and revisionist scholars in the 1950s and 1960s first challenged the paradigm of denying an American empire. As the Vietnam War created a critical flashpoint, bringing the idea of American imperialism into the US mainstream, radical students of the New Left turned toward Marxist critiques, admiring revolutionaries like Che Guevara. Simultaneously, a small school of revisionist scholars, led by historian William Appleman Williams at the University of Wisconsin, put forward a progressive, nuanced critique of American empire grounded in psychology, economics, and broader historical context. It is this more sophisticated strand of thinking, Morgan argues, which demonstrated that empire can be an effective analytical framework for studying US foreign policy, thus convincing American scholars to engage with the subject seriously for the first time.
Written in the intense political and intellectual tumult of the early years of the Weimar Republic, Political Theology develops the distinctive theory of sovereignty that made Carl Schmitt one of the most significant and controversial political theorists of the twentieth century.
Focusing on the relationships among political leadership, the norms of the legal order, and the state of political emergency, Schmitt argues in Political Theology that legal order ultimately rests upon the decisions of the sovereign. According to Schmitt, only the sovereign can meet the needs of an "exceptional" time and transcend legal order so that order can then be reestablished. Convinced that the state is governed by the ever-present possibility of conflict, Schmitt theorizes that the state exists only to maintain its integrity in order to ensure order and stability. Suggesting that all concepts of modern political thought are secularized theological concepts, Schmitt concludes Political Theology with a critique of liberalism and its attempt to depoliticize political thought by avoiding fundamental political decisions.
Social Change in Contemporary China offers a wide-ranging examination of Chinese institutional change in areas of education, religion, health care, economics, labor, family, and local communities in the post-Mao era. Based on the pioneering work of sociologist C. K. Yang (1911–1999), and his institutional diffusion theory, the essays analyze and develop the theory as it applies to both public and private institutions. The interrelationship of these institutions composes what Yang termed the Chinese “system,” and affects nearly every aspect of life. Yang examined the influence of external factors on each institution, such as the influence of Westernization and Communism on family, and the impact of industrialization on rural markets. He also analyzed the impact of public opinion and past culture on institutions, therein revealing the circular nature of diffusion. Perhaps most significant are Yang’s insights on the role of religion in Chinese society. Despite the common perception that China had no religion, he uncovers the influence of classical Confucianism as the basis for many ethical value systems, and follows its diffusion into state and kinship systems, as well as Taoism and Buddhism.
Writing in the early years of Communism, Yang had little hard data with which to test his theories. The contributors to this volume expand upon Yang’s groundbreaking approach and apply the model of diffusion to a rapidly evolving contemporary China, providing a window into an increasingly modern Chinese society and its institutions.
In modern life, technology is everywhere. Yet as a concept, technology is a mess. In popular discourse, technology is little more than the latest digital innovations. Scholars do little better, offering up competing definitions that include everything from steelmaking to singing. In Technology: Critical History of a Concept, Eric Schatzberg explains why technology is so difficult to define by examining its three thousand year history, one shaped by persistent tensions between scholars and technical practitioners. Since the time of the ancient Greeks, scholars have tended to hold technicians in low esteem, defining technical practices as mere means toward ends defined by others. Technicians, in contrast, have repeatedly pushed back against this characterization, insisting on the dignity, creativity, and cultural worth of their work.
The tension between scholars and technicians continued from Aristotle through Francis Bacon and into the nineteenth century. It was only in the twentieth century that modern meanings of technology arose: technology as the industrial arts, technology as applied science, and technology as technique. Schatzberg traces these three meanings to the present day, when discourse about technology has become pervasive, but confusion among the three principal meanings of technology remains common. He shows that only through a humanistic concept of technology can we understand the complex human choices embedded in our modern world.