Hartley describes how modern theory from Kant through Lacan attempts to come to terms with the sublime limits of representation and how ideas developed with the Marxist tradition—such as Marx’s theory of value, Althusser’s theory of structural causality, or Zizek’s theory of ideological enjoyment—can be seen as variants of the sublime object. Representation, he argues, is ultimately a political problem. Whether that problem be a Marxist representation of global capitalism, a deconstructive representation of subaltern women, or a Chicano self-representation opposing Anglo-American images of Mexican Americans, it is only through this grappling with the negative, Hartley explains, that a Marxist theory of postmodernism can begin to address the challenges of global capitalism and resurgent imperialism.
“Appiah is a writer and thinker of remarkable range… [He] has packed into this short book an impressive amount of original reflection… A rich and illuminating book.”—Thomas Nagel, New York Review of BooksIdealization is a fundamental feature of human thought. We build simplified models to make sense of the world, and life is a constant adjustment between the models we make and the realities we encounter. Our beliefs, desires, and sense of justice are bound up with these ideals, and we proceed “as if” our representations were true, while knowing they are not. In this elegant and original meditation, Kwame Anthony Appiah suggests that this instinct to idealize is not dangerous or distracting so much as it is necessary. As If explores how strategic untruth plays a critical role in far-flung areas of inquiry: decision theory, psychology, natural science, and political philosophy. A polymath who writes with mainstream clarity, Appiah defends the centrality of the imagination not just in the arts but in science, morality, and everyday life.“Appiah is the rare public intellectual who is also a first-rate analytic philosopher, and the characteristic virtues associated with each of these identities are very much in evidence throughout the book.”—Thomas Kelly, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Hegel’s philosophy of history—which most critics view as a theory of inevitable progress toward modern European civilization—is widely regarded as a failure today. In Does History Make Sense? Terry Pinkard argues that Hegel’s understanding of historical progress is not the kind of teleological or progressivist account that its detractors claim, but is based on a subtle understanding of human subjectivity.Pinkard shows that for Hegel a break occurred between modernity and all that came before, when human beings found a new way to make sense of themselves as rational, self-aware creatures. In Hegel’s view of history, different types of sense-making become viable as social conditions change and new forms of subjectivity emerge. At the core of these changes are evolving conceptions of justice—of who has authority to rule over others. In modern Europe, Hegel believes, an unprecedented understanding of justice as freedom arose, based on the notion that every man should rule himself. Freedom is a more robust form of justice than previous conceptions, so progress has indeed been made. But justice, like health, requires constant effort to sustain and cannot ever be fully achieved.For Hegel, philosophy and history are inseparable. Pinkard’s spirited defense of the Hegelian view of history will play a central role in contemporary reevaluations of the philosopher’s work.
For Badiou serves both as an introduction to the influential French philosopher Alain Badiou’s thought and as an in-depth examination of his work. Ruda begins with a thorough and clear outline of the sometimes difficult main tenets of Badiou’s philosophy. He then traces the philosophers throughout Western thought who have influenced Badiou’s project—especially Plato, Descartes, Hegel, and Marx—and on whose work Badiou has developed his provocative philosophy. Ruda draws from Badiou’s oeuvre a series of directives with regard to renewing philosophy for the twenty-first century. For Badiou continues the interrogations of its subject and raises new materialistic and dialectical questions for the next generation of engaged philosophers.
In a sense it would be inappropriate to speak of “Hegel’s system of philosophy,” because Hegel thought that in the strict sense there is only one system of philosophy evolving in the Western world. In Hegel’s view, although at times philosophy’s history seems to be a chaotic series of crisscrossing interpretations of meanings and values, with no consensus, there has been a teleological development and consistent progress in philosophy and philosophizing from the beginning; Hegel held that his own version of “German idealism” was simply bringing to final expression the latest refinements of an ongoing, perennial system.
If we take Hegel at his word, then one of the best entries into his system would be through the history of philosophy, showing how systems and schools of thought prior to Hegel led up to his system. The most important currents to focus on, however, would be in modern philosophy, in which especially intensive changes led ultimately to German idealism and Hegel’s immediate predecessors.
Fortunately, Hegel lectured extensively on the history of modern philosophy and structured his lectures in such a way as to throw light on the status of the “one system” of Western philosophy at the time — the status to which Hegel felt he had been contributing and was continuing to contribute. These lectures are of interest, first of all, as a systematic chronicle of philosophical positions in the heyday of modern philosophy, from Bacon to Hegel. Second, they are interesting because Hegel’s critical comments on his predecessors clarify his own positions: for example, the dialectic method and the importance of triplicity, the relationship of philosophy to the scientific method, the necessity for avoidance of the extremes of empiricism and of idealism, the subject/object problematic, the “identity” of rationality and reality, and the technical meaning in Hegel’s philosophy of “absolute,” “infinity,” and the “idea.”
From Kant to Kierkegaard, from Hegel to Heidegger, continental philosophers have indelibly shaped the trajectory of Western thought since the eighteenth century. Although much has been written about these monumental thinkers, students and scholars lack a definitive guide to the entire scope of the continental tradition. The most comprehensive reference work to date, this eight-volume History of Continental Philosophy will both encapsulate the subject and reorient our understanding of it. Beginning with an overview of Kant’s philosophy and its initial reception, the History traces the evolution of continental philosophy through major figures as well as movements such as existentialism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, and poststructuralism. The final volume outlines the current state of the field, bringing the work of both historical and modern thinkers to bear on such contemporary topics as feminism, globalization, and the environment. Throughout, the volumes examine important philosophical figures and developments in their historical, political, and cultural contexts.
The first reference of its kind, A History of Continental Philosophy has been written and edited by internationally recognized experts with a commitment to explaining complex thinkers, texts, and movements in rigorous yet jargon-free essays suitable for both undergraduates and seasoned specialists. These volumes also elucidate ongoing debates about the nature of continental and analytic philosophy, surveying the distinctive, sometimes overlapping characteristics and approaches of each tradition. Featuring helpful overviews of major topics and plotting road maps to their underlying contexts, A History of Continental Philosophy is destined to be the resource of first and last resort for students and scholars alike.
Retelling the history of Western modernity, Taylor traces the development of a distinct social imaginary. Animated by the idea of a moral order based on the mutual benefit of equal participants, the Western social imaginary is characterized by three key cultural forms—the economy, the public sphere, and self-governance. Taylor’s account of these cultural formations provides a fresh perspective on how to read the specifics of Western modernity: how we came to imagine society primarily as an economy for exchanging goods and services to promote mutual prosperity, how we began to imagine the public sphere as a metaphorical place for deliberation and discussion among strangers on issues of mutual concern, and how we invented the idea of a self-governing people capable of secular “founding” acts without recourse to transcendent principles. Accessible in length and style, Modern Social Imaginaries offers a clear and concise framework for understanding the structure of modern life in the West and the different forms modernity has taken around the world.
Pragmatism has been reinvented in every generation since its beginnings in the late nineteenth century. This book, by one of today’s most distinguished contemporary heirs of pragmatist philosophy, rereads cardinal figures in that tradition, distilling from their insights a way forward from where we are now.Perspectives on Pragmatism opens with a new accounting of what is living and what is dead in the first three generations of classical American pragmatists, represented by Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Post-Deweyan pragmatism at midcentury is discussed in the work of Wilfrid Sellars, one of its most brilliant and original practitioners. Sellars’ legacy in turn is traced through the thought of his admirer, Richard Rorty, who further developed James’s and Dewey’s ideas within the professional discipline of philosophy and once more succeeded, as they had, in showing the more general importance of those ideas not only for intellectuals outside philosophy but for the wider public sphere.The book closes with a clear description of the author’s own analytic pragmatism, which combines all these ideas with those of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and synthesizes that broad pragmatism with its dominant philosophical rival, analytic philosophy, which focuses on language and logic. The result is a treatise that allows us to see American philosophy in its full scope, both its origins and its promise for tomorrow.
What is the best possible society? How would its rulers govern and its citizens behave? Such questions are sometimes dismissed as distractions from genuine political problems, but in an era when political idealism seems a relic of the past, says Jonny Thakkar, they are more urgent than ever. A daring experiment in using ancient philosophy to breathe life into our political present, Plato as Critical Theorist takes seriously one of Plato’s central claims: that philosophers should rule. What many accounts miss is the intimate connection between Plato’s politics and his metaphysics, Thakkar argues. Philosophy is the activity of articulating how parts and wholes best fit together, while ruling is the activity that shapes the parts of society into a coherent whole conducive to the good life. Plato’s ideal society is thus one in which ideal theory itself plays a leading role.Today’s liberal democracies require not philosopher-kings legislating from above but philosopher-citizens willing to work toward a vision of the best society in their daily lives. Against the claim that such idealism is inherently illiberal, Thakkar shows that it is fully compatible with the liberal theories of both Popper and Rawls while nevertheless pushing beyond them in providing a new vantage point for the Marxian critique of capitalism.
Self-Consciousness and Objectivity undermines a foundational dogma of contemporary philosophy: that knowledge, in order to be objective, must be knowledge of something that is as it is, independent of being known to be so. Sebastian Rödl revives the thought—as ancient as philosophy but largely forgotten today—that knowledge, precisely on account of being objective, is self-knowledge: knowledge knowing itself. Thus he intervenes in a discussion that runs through the work of Bernard Williams, Thomas Nagel, Adrian Moore, and others, who seek to comprehend the claim to objectivity we raise in making judgments. While these authors think that the quest for objectivity demands that we transcend the first person, Rödl argues that it is through the first-person thought contained in every judgment that our judgments possess the objectivity that defines knowledge.Self-Consciousness and Objectivity can be read as an introduction to absolute idealism, for it dismantles a stubborn obstacle to absolute idealism’s reception: the notion that it is a species of idealism, which is understood to be the assertion that the world depends upon the mind. As Rödl brings out, absolute idealism is the resolute rejection of that idea.The implications of this work are profound. It undercuts a number of contemporary presumptions, such as that judgment is a propositional attitude, that inference is a mental process, and that there is an empirical science of the capacity for objective knowledge. All of these presumptions flow from the erroneous notion that the objectivity of knowledge stands opposed to its first-person character.
Forty years in the making, this long-awaited reinterpretation of Hegel’s The Phenomenology of Spirit is a landmark contribution to philosophy by one of the world’s best-known and most influential philosophers.In this much-anticipated work, Robert Brandom presents a completely new retelling of the romantic rationalist adventure of ideas that is Hegel’s classic The Phenomenology of Spirit. Connecting analytic, continental, and historical traditions, Brandom shows how dominant modes of thought in contemporary philosophy are challenged by Hegel.A Spirit of Trust is about the massive historical shift in the life of humankind that constitutes the advent of modernity. In his Critiques, Kant talks about the distinction between what things are in themselves and how they appear to us; Hegel sees Kant’s distinction as making explicit what separates the ancient and modern worlds. In the ancient world, normative statuses—judgments of what ought to be—were taken to state objective facts. In the modern world, these judgments are taken to be determined by attitudes—subjective stances. Hegel supports a view combining both of those approaches, which Brandom calls “objective idealism”: there is an objective reality, but we cannot make sense of it without first making sense of how we think about it.According to Hegel’s approach, we become agents only when taken as such by other agents. This means that normative statuses such as commitment, responsibility, and authority are instituted by social practices of reciprocal recognition. Brandom argues that when our self-conscious recognitive attitudes take the radical form of magnanimity and trust that Hegel describes, we can overcome a troubled modernity and enter a new age of spirit.
Responding to the ongoing “objectal turn” in contemporary humanities and social sciences, the essays in Subject Lessons present a sustained case for the continued importance— indeed, the indispensability—of the category of the subject for the future of materialist thought.
Approaching matters through the frame of Hegel and Lacan, the contributors to this volume, including the editors, as well as Andrew Cole, Mladen Dolar, Nathan Gorelick, Adrian Johnston, Todd McGowan, Borna Radnik, Molly Anne Rothenberg, Kathryn Van Wert, and Alenka Zupančič—many of whom stand at the forefront of contemporary Hegel and Lacan scholarship—agree with neovitalist thinkers that material reality is ontologically incomplete, in a state of perpetual becoming, yet they maintain that this is the case not in spite of but, rather, because of the subject.
Incorporating elements of philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literary and cultural studies, Subject Lessons contests the movement to dismiss the subject, arguing that there can be no truly robust materialism without accounting for the little piece of the Real that is the subject.
What is the relation between thinking and the I that thinks? And what is the relation between thought and reality? The ordinary view shared by modern philosophers from Descartes to Kant, as well as by common sense, is that there is only thought when someone thinks something, and thoughts and concepts are mental acts that refer to objects outside us.
In Thinking and the I: Hegel and the Critique of Kant, Alfredo Ferrarin shows that Hegel’s philosophy entails a radical criticism of this ordinary conception of thinking. Breaking with the habitual presuppositions of both modern philosophy and common sense, Ferrarin explains that thought, negation, truth, reflection, and dialectic for Hegel are not properties of an I and cannot be reduced to the subjective activity of a self-conscious subject. Rather, he elucidates, thought is objective for Hegel in different senses. Reality as a whole is animated by a movement of thought and an unconscious logic as a spontaneity that reifies itself in determinate forms. Ferrarin concludes the book with a comprehensive comparison of Hegel’s and Kant’s concepts of reason.
While it mainly focuses on Hegel’s Phenomenology, Science of Logic, and Encyclopaedia, this ambitious book covers all aspects of Hegel’s philosophy. Its originality and strength lie in its recovery of the original core of Hegel’s dialectic over and above its currently predominant transcendental, neopragmatist, or realist appropriations. It will be essential reading for all students of Hegel, Kant, and German idealism in general for years to come.
Kant declared that philosophy began in 1781 with his Critique of Pure Reason. In 1806 Hegel announced that philosophy had now been completed. Eckart Förster examines the reasons behind these claims and assesses the steps that led in such a short time from Kant’s “beginning” to Hegel’s “end.” He concludes that, in an unexpected yet significant sense, both Kant and Hegel were indeed right.“Presents a novel interpretation of the development of German idealism that is rich in both historical depth and philosophical insight…Förster sets forth a historically nuanced and philosophically discerning interpretation of the central debates of the era.”—Peter Yong, Philosophy in Review“[Förster’s] book does not disappoint…The amount of material covered by Förster is impressive…Förster’s book is rich in specificity…Wherever the discussion goes, it is going to have to go on by taking Förster’s big picture and all his detailed accounts into account.”—Terry Pinkard, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews“Förster’s command of the historical sources is most impressive. Moreover, this book is clearly written, and Bowman’s translation is commendable. Scholars and graduate students will welcome this masterpiece.”—J. M. Fritzman, Choice
“What a strange invention marriage is!” wrote Kierkegaard. “Is it the expression of that inexplicable erotic sentiment, that concordant elective affinity of souls, or is it a duty or a partnership . . . or is it a little of all that?”
Like Kierkegaard a few decades later, many of Germany’s most influential thinkers at the turn of the eighteenth century wondered about the nature of marriage but rejected the easy answers provided by biology and theology. In Uncivil Unions, Adrian Daub presents a truly interdisciplinary look at the story of a generation of philosophers, poets, and intellectuals who turned away from theology, reason, common sense, and empirical observation to provide a purely metaphysical justification of marriage.
Through close readings of philosophers like Fichte and Schlegel, and novelists like Sophie Mereau and Jean Paul, Daub charts the development of this new concept of marriage with an insightful blend of philosophy, cultural studies, and theory. The author delves deeply into the lives and work of the romantic and idealist poets and thinkers whose beliefs about marriage continue to shape ideas about gender, marriage, and sex to the present day.
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