"Robert E. Lane is one of the most prominent and distinguished critics of both the human impact of market economies and economic theory, arguing from much research that happiness is more likely to flow from companionship, enjoyment of work, contribution to society, and the opportunity to develop as a person, than from the pursuit of wealth and the accumulation of material goods in market economies. This latest work playfully personalizes the contrast through a dialogue between a humanistic social scientist, Dessi, and a market economist, Adam. It is all too rare to have the two sides talking to each other. Moreover, in Lane's witty and literate hands, it is an open-minded and balanced conversation, in which neither side has all the answers. His unparalleled grasp of interdisciplinary social scientific knowledge is brought to bear on the largest questions of human life: What genuinely makes people happy? How should human society be organized to maximize the quality of human lives?"
--David O. Sears, Professor of Psychology and Political Science, UCLA
"Lane's deep knowledge of the sources of human happiness enables him to develop a powerful critique of economic theory."
---Robert A. Dahl, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Yale University
Robert E. Lane is the Eugene Meyer Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Yale University. His previous publications include The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies (2000) and The Market Experience (1991).
When we catastrophize, we think the worst. We make too much of too little, or something of nothing. Yet what looks simply like a bad habit, Gerard Passannante argues, was also a spur to some of the daring conceptual innovations and feats of imagination that defined the intellectual and cultural history of the early modern period.
Reaching back to the time between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, Passannante traces a history of catastrophizing through literary and philosophical encounters with materialism—the view that the world is composed of nothing but matter. As artists, poets, philosophers, and scholars pondered the physical causes and material stuff of the cosmos, they conjured up disasters out of thin air and responded as though to events that were befalling them. From Leonardo da Vinci’s imaginative experiments with nature’s destructive forces to the fevered fantasies of doomsday astrologers, from the self-fulfilling prophecies of Shakespeare’s tragic characters to the mental earthquakes that guided Kant toward his theory of the sublime, Passannante shows how and why the early moderns reached for disaster when they ventured beyond the limits of the sensible. He goes on to explore both the danger and the critical potential of thinking catastrophically in our own time.
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.
Taking as his point of departure Norbert Weiner’s statement that information is basic to understanding materialism in our era, Ronald Schleifer shows how discoveries of modern physics have altered conceptions of matter and energy and the ways in which both information theory and the study of literature can enrich these conceptions. Expanding the reductive notion of “the material” as simply matter and energy, he formulates a new, more inclusive idea of materialism.
Schleifer’s project attempts to bridge the divisions between the humanities and the sciences and to create a nonreductive materialism for the information age. He presents a materialistic account of human bodily experience by delving into language and literature that powerfully represents our faces, voices, hands, and pain. For example, he examines the material resources of poetic “literariness” as it is revealed in the condition of Tourette’s syndrome. Schleifer also investigates gestures of the hand in the formation of sociality, and he studies pain as both a physiological and phenomenological experience.
This ambitious work explores physiological analyses, evolutionary explanations, and semiotic descriptions of materialism to reveal how aspects of physical existence discover meaning in experience.
The Lost Soul of American Politics is a provocative new interpretation of American political thought from the Founding Fathers to the Neo-Conservatives. Reassessing the motives and intentions of such great political thinkers as Madison, Thoreau, Lincoln, and Emerson, John P. Diggins shows how these men struggled to create an alliance between the politics of self-interest and a religious sense of moral responsibility—a tension that still troubles us today.
With The Lucretian Renaissance, Gerard Passannante offers a radical rethinking of a familiar narrative: the rise of materialism in early modern Europe. Passannante begins by taking up the ancient philosophical notion that the world is composed of two fundamental opposites: atoms, as the philosopher Epicurus theorized, intrinsically unchangeable and moving about the void; and the void itself, or nothingness. Passannante considers the fact that this strain of ancient Greek philosophy survived and was transmitted to the Renaissance primarily by means of a poem that had seemingly been lost—a poem insisting that the letters of the alphabet are like the atoms that make up the universe.
By tracing this elemental analogy through the fortunes of Lucretius’s On the Nature of Things, Passannante argues that, long before it took on its familiar shape during the Scientific Revolution, the philosophy of atoms and the void reemerged in the Renaissance as a story about reading and letters—a story that materialized in texts, in their physical recomposition, and in their scattering.
From the works of Virgil and Macrobius to those of Petrarch, Poliziano, Lambin, Montaigne, Bacon, Spenser, Gassendi, Henry More, and Newton, The Lucretian Renaissance recovers a forgotten history of materialism in humanist thought and scholarly practice and asks us to reconsider one of the most enduring questions of the period: what does it mean for a text, a poem, and philosophy to be “reborn”?
Daniel Miller, ed. Duke University Press, 2005 Library of Congress GN406.M38 2005 | Dewey Decimal 306.46
Throughout history and across social and cultural contexts, most systems of belief—whether religious or secular—have ascribed wisdom to those who see reality as that which transcends the merely material. Yet, as the studies collected here show, the immaterial is not easily separated from the material. Humans are defined, to an extraordinary degree, by their expressions of immaterial ideals through material forms. The essays in Materiality explore varied manifestations of materiality from ancient times to the present. In assessing the fundamental role of materiality in shaping humanity, they signal the need to decenter the social within social anthropology in order to make room for the material.
Considering topics as diverse as theology, technology, finance, and art, the contributors—most of whom are anthropologists—examine the many different ways in which materiality has been understood and the consequences of these differences. Their case studies show that the latest forms of financial trading instruments can be compared with the oldest ideals of ancient Egypt, that the promise of software can be compared with an age-old desire for an unmediated relationship to divinity. Whether focusing on the theology of Islamic banking, Australian Aboriginal art, derivatives trading in Japan, or textiles that respond directly to their environment, each essay adds depth and nuance to the project that Materiality advances: a profound acknowledgment and rethinking of one of the basic properties of being human.
Contributors. Matthew Engelke, Webb Keane, Susanne Küchler, Bill Maurer, Lynn Meskell, Daniel Miller, Hirokazu Miyazaki, Fred Myers, Christopher Pinney, Michael Rowlands, Nigel Thrift
In Metafilm: Materialist Rhetoric and Reflexive Cinema, Christopher Carter examines paradoxical rhetoric in visual culture, analyzing movies that immerse viewers in violent narratives while examining the ethics of the transaction. Featuring the films of Michael Haneke, Atom Egoyan, Icíar Bollaín, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Ryan Coogler, Carter analyzes how personal conflict intermingles with the inherent violence of warfare, transnational economics, labor exploitation, and racism in genres ranging from horror to historical recreation and from depictions of genocide to records of police brutality. These films, Carter argues, reflect on their construction, distribution, and audience engagement, emphasizing the material design and the economics of rhetoric in ways most films do not.
Ultimately, Metafilm reframes materialism as a multimodal composing-in-action, or reflexive materialism, focusing on movies that dramatize their entanglement in economic and historical trauma while provoking forms of resistance during and after viewing. Carter contends that even as we recognize the division of social power in the films, we must also recognize how the concept is subversive and eludes control. In looking at the interplay between the films’ content and their production, circulation, and reception, Carter explores how the films persuade us to identify with onscreen worlds before probing our expectations—validating some, rejecting others, and sometimes proposing new ways of watching altogether.
First published in 1974 as a companion volume to Darwin on Man by Howard E. Gruber, Paul Barrett’s transcriptions of Darwin’s M and N notebooks served to shed new light on the evolutionist’s methods and motivation.
According to Stephen Jay Gould in the New York Times Book Review, “Darwin kept [these notebooks] primarily in 1838, when he was 29 years old. In them, he recorded his early conviction of evolutionary continuity between humans and all other animals. . . . These notebooks display all the features of humanistic intellect that his detractors denied. We find erudition in his comments on Plato, Locke, Hume, Adam Smith, Whewell, Burke, Montaigne, Lessing and Spencer. . . . We appreciate an artistic bent in his delight with nature and her prophet Wordsworth. . . . We grasp the breadth of his bold attempt to clothe all human thought and behaviour in a new evolutionary garb. . . . Charles Darwin was reconstructing the world and he knew exactly what he was doing.”
Mind, Matter, and Nature
James D. Madden Catholic University of America Press, 2013 Library of Congress BD418.3.M3525 2013 | Dewey Decimal 128.2
Written for students, Mind, Matter, and Nature presumes no prior philosophical training on the part of the reader. The book nevertheless holds the arguments discussed to rigorous standards and is conversant with recent literature, thus making it useful as well to more advanced students and professionals interested in a resource on Thomistic hylomorphism in the philosophy of mind.
New Materialisms brings into focus and explains the significance of the innovative materialist critiques that are emerging across the social sciences and humanities. By gathering essays that exemplify the new thinking about matter and processes of materialization, this important collection shows how scholars are reworking older materialist traditions, contemporary theoretical debates, and advances in scientific knowledge to address pressing ethical and political challenges. In the introduction, Diana Coole and Samantha Frost highlight common themes among the distinctive critical projects that comprise the new materialisms. The continuities they discern include a posthumanist conception of matter as lively or exhibiting agency, and a reengagement with both the material realities of everyday life and broader geopolitical and socioeconomic structures.
Coole and Frost argue that contemporary economic, environmental, geopolitical, and technological developments demand new accounts of nature, agency, and social and political relationships; modes of inquiry that privilege consciousness and subjectivity are not adequate to the task. New materialist philosophies are needed to do justice to the complexities of twenty-first-century biopolitics and political economy, because they raise fundamental questions about the place of embodied humans in a material world and the ways that we produce, reproduce, and consume our material environment.
Contributors Sara Ahmed Jane Bennett Rosi Braidotti Pheng Cheah Rey Chow William E. Connolly Diana Coole Jason Edwards Samantha Frost Elizabeth Grosz Sonia Kruks Melissa A. Orlie
Though underexplored in contemporary scholarship, the Victorian attempts to turn aesthetics into a science remain one of the most fascinating aspects of that era. In The Outward Mind, Benjamin Morgan approaches this period of innovation as an important origin point for current attempts to understand art or beauty using the tools of the sciences. Moving chronologically from natural theology in the early nineteenth century to laboratory psychology in the early twentieth, Morgan draws on little-known archives of Victorian intellectuals such as William Morris, Walter Pater, John Ruskin, and others to argue that scientific studies of mind and emotion transformed the way writers and artists understood the experience of beauty and effectively redescribed aesthetic judgment as a biological adaptation. Looking beyond the Victorian period to humanistic critical theory today, he also shows how the historical relationship between science and aesthetics could be a vital resource for rethinking key concepts in contemporary literary and cultural criticism, such as materialism, empathy, practice, and form. At a moment when the tumultuous relationship between the sciences and the humanities is the subject of ongoing debate, Morgan argues for the importance of understanding the arts and sciences as incontrovertibly intertwined.
Taking seriously the argument that things have politics, Political Matter seeks to develop a fully materialist theory of politics, one that opens new possibilities for imagining the relationship between scientific and political practices. The contributors assert that without such a theory the profusion of complex materials with and through which we live-plastic bags, smart cars, and long-life lightbulbs, for example-too often leaves us oscillating between fearful repudiation and glib celebration.
Exploring the frictions that come from linking the work of scholars in science and technology studies and political theory, these essays spark new ways of understanding the matter of politics.
Contributors: Andrew Barry, U of Oxford; Jane Bennett, Johns Hopkins U; Stephen J. Collier, New School; William E. Connolly, Johns Hopkins U; Rosalyn Diprose, U of New South Wales; Lisa Disch, U of Michigan; Gay Hawkins, U of New South Wales; Andrew Lakoff, UC San Diego; Noortje Marres, U of London; Isabelle Stengers, U Libre de Bruxelles; Nigel Thrift, U of Warwick.
Adrian Johnston’s trilogy Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism aims to forge a thoroughly materialist yet antireductive theory of subjectivity. In this second volume, A Weak Nature Alone, Johnston focuses on the philosophy of nature required for such a theory. This volume is guided by a fundamental question: How must nature be rethought so that human minds and freedom do not appear to be either impossible or inexplicable within it? Asked differently: How must the natural world itself be structured such that sapient subjects in all their distinctive peculiarities emerged from and continue to exist within this world?
In A Weak Nature Alone, Johnston develops his transcendental materialist account of nature through engaging with and weaving together five main sources of inspiration: Hegelian philosophy, Marxist materialism, Freudian-Lacanian metapsychology, Anglo-American analytic neo-Hegelianism, and evolutionary theory and neurobiology. Johnston argues that these seemingly (but not really) strange bedfellows should be brought together so as to construct a contemporary ontology of nature. Through this ontology, nonnatural human subjects can be seen to arise in an immanent, bottom-up fashion from nature itself.
Adrian Johnston’s Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism,planned for three volumes, will lay the foundations for a new materialist theoretical apparatus, his “transcendental materialism.” In this first volume, Johnston clears an opening within contemporary philosophy and theory for his unique position. He engages closely with Lacan, Badiou, and Meillassoux, demonstrating how each of these philosophers can be seen as failing to forge an authentically atheistic materialism. Johnston builds a new materialism both profoundly influenced by these brilliant comrades of a shared cause as well as making up for the shortcomings of their own creative attempts to bring to realization the Lacanian vision of an Other-less, One-less ontology. The Outcome of Contemporary French Philosophy yields intellectual weapons suitable for deployment on multiple fronts simultaneously, effective against the mutually entangled spiritualist and scientistic foes of our post-Enlightenment, biopolitical era of nothing more than commodities and currencies.
In engaging, accessible prose, leading theater critic and cultural commentator David Savran explores the intersections between art and culture, offering smart, compelling interpretations of the economic and social contexts of theatrical texts and practices. Acknowledging theater's marginal status in U.S. culture, A Queer Sort of Materialism takes on "the trouble-makers--the ghost, closeted homosexual, masochist, drag king, Third World laborer, even the white male as victim"--who figure more prominently in theater than in other cultural forms. In impeccably researched and argued essays that range in subject matter from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Paula Vogel, from Suddenly Last Summer to Iron John, Savran uncovers the ways that such troublemakers both challenge and reinforce orthodox social practices.
The selections presented here are by turns entertaining, informative, sophisticated, and polemical, reflecting the author's dual citizenship as rigorous scholar and engaging theater critic. This book also provides a model for a kind of queer historical materialism that will prove useful to a wide range of disciplines, including theater and performance, gender and sexuality, queer/gay/lesbian/transgender studies, American studies, and popular culture.
David Savran is Professor of Theater, the Graduate Center, the City University of New York, and author of Cowboys, Communists, and Queers and Taking It Like a Man.
Jack Selzer University of Wisconsin Press, 1999 Library of Congress P301.5.S63R49 1999 | Dewey Decimal 808
What significance does the physical, material body still have in a world of virtual reality and genetic cloning? How do technology and postmodern rhetoric influence our understanding of the body? And how can our discussion of the body affect the way we handle crises in public policy—the politics of race and ethnicity; issues of "family values" that revolve around sexual and gender identities; the choices revolving around reproduction and genome projects, and the spread of disease?
Leading scholars in rhetoric and communication, as well as literary and cultural studies, address some of the most important topics currently being discussed in the human sciences. The essays collected here suggest the wide range of public arenas in which rhetoric is operative—from abortion clinics and the World Wide Web to the media's depiction of illiteracy and the Donner Party. These studies demonstrate how the discourse of AIDS prevention or Demi Moore's "beautiful pregnancy" call to mind the physical nature of being human and the ways in which language and other symbols reflect and create the physical world.
Responding to the ongoing “objectal turn” throughout contemporary humanities and social sciences, the eleven 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.
Various neovitalist materialisms and realisms currently en vogue across a number of academic disciplines (from New Materialism and actor-network theory to speculative realism and object-oriented ontology) advocate a flat, horizontal ontology that renders the subject just another object amid a “democracy of objects.” By contrast, the dialectical materialism presented throughout Subject Lessons maintains that subjectivity is crucial to grasping matter’s “vibrancy” and continual “becoming” in the first place. Approaching matters through the frame of Hegel and Lacan, the contributors to this volume—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 do so with one crucial difference: 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.
Slavoj Žižek is one of the most interesting and important philosophers working today, known chiefly for his theoretical explorations of popular culture and contemporary politics. This book focuses on the generally neglected and often overshadowed philosophical core of Žižek’s work—an essential component in any true appreciation of this unique thinker’s accomplishment.
His central concern, Žižek has proclaimed, is to use psychoanalysis (especially the teachings of Jacques Lacan) to redeploy the insights of late-modern German philosophy, in particular, the thought of Kant, Schelling, and Hegel. By taking this avowal seriously, Adrian Johnston finally clarifies the philosophical project underlying Žižek’s efforts. His book charts the interlinked ontology and theory of subjectivity constructed by Žižek at the intersection of German idealism and Lacanian theory. Johnston also uses Žižek’s combination of philosophy and psychoanalysis to address two perennial philosophical problems: the relationship of mind and body, and the nature of human freedom. By bringing together the past two centuries of European philosophy, psychoanalytic metapsychology, and cutting-edge work in the natural sciences, Johnston develops a transcendental materialist theory of subjectivity—in short, an account of how more-than-material forms of subjectivity can emerge from a corporeal being. His work shows how an engagement with Žižek’s philosophy can produce compelling answers to today’s most vexing and urgent questions as inherited from the history of ideas.