Contributors. Tony Ballantyne, Antoinette Burton, Ann Curthoys, Augusto Espiritu, Karen Fang, Ian Christopher Fletcher, Robert Gregg, Terri Hasseler, Clement Hawes, Douglas M. Haynes, Kristin Hoganson, Paula Krebs, Lara Kriegel, Radhika Viyas Mongia, Susan Pennybacker, John Plotz, Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, Heather Streets, Hsu-Ming Teo, Stuart Ward, Lora Wildenthal, Gary Wilder
For centuries it was believed that all matter was composed of four elements: earth, air, water, and fire in promiscuous combination, bound by love and pulled apart by strife. Elemental theory offered a mode of understanding materiality that did not center the cosmos around the human. Outgrown as a science, the elements are now what we build our houses against. Their renunciation has fostered only estrangement from the material world.
The essays collected in Elemental Ecocriticism show how elemental materiality precipitates new engagements with the ecological. Here the classical elements reveal the vitality of supposedly inert substances (mud, water, earth, air), chemical processes (fire), and natural phenomena, as well as the promise in the abandoned and the unreal (ether, phlogiston, spontaneous generation).
Decentering the human, this volume provides important correctives to the idea of the material world as mere resource. Three response essays meditate on the connections of this collaborative project to the framing of modern-day ecological concerns. A renewed intimacy with the elemental holds the potential of a more dynamic environmental ethics and the possibility of a reinvigorated materialism.
A fascinating ethnography of microbes that opens up new spaces for anthropological inquiry
The trillions of microbes in and on our bodies are determined by not only biology but also our social connections. Gut Anthro tells the fascinating story of how a sociocultural anthropologist developed a collaborative “anthropology of microbes” with a human microbial ecologist to address global health crises across disciplines. It asks: what would it mean for anthropology to act with science? Based partly at a preeminent U.S. lab studying the human microbiome, the Center for Genome Sciences at Washington University, and partly at a field site in Bangladesh studying infant malnutrition, it examines how microbes travel between human guts in the “field” and in microbiome laboratories, influencing definitions of health and disease, and how the microbiome can change our views on evolution, agency, and life.
As lab scientists studied the interrelationships between gut microbes and malnutrition in resource-poor countries, Amber Benezra explored ways to reconcile the scale and speed differences between the lab, the intimate biosocial practices of Bangladeshi mothers and their children, and the looming structural violence of poverty. In vital ways, Gut Anthro is about what it means to collaborate—with mothers, local field researchers in Bangladesh, massive philanthropic global health organizations, with the microbiome scientists, and, of course, with microbes. It follows microbes through various enactments in scientific research—microbes as kin, as data, and as race. Revealing how racial categories are used in microbiome research, Benezra argues that microbial differences need transdisciplinary collaboration to address racial health disparities without reifying race as a straightforward biological or social designation.
Gut Anthro is a tour de force of science studies and medical anthropology as well as an intensely personal and deeply theoretical accounting of what it means to do anthropology today.
Cover alt text:
Black background overlaid with a pink organic path suggestive of a human digestive system. Title appears within the guts as if being processed.
Brilliant, practical, and humorous conversations with one of the twentieth-century’s greatest musicologists on art, culture, and the physical pain of playing a difficult passage until one attains its rewards.Throughout his life, Charles Rosen combined formidable intelligence with immense skill as a concert pianist. He began studying at Juilliard at age seven and went on to inspire a generation of scholars to combine history, aesthetics, and score analysis in what became known as “new musicology.”The Joy of Playing, the Joy of Thinking presents a master class for music lovers. In interviews originally conducted and published in French, Rosen’s friend Catherine Temerson asks carefully crafted questions to elicit his insights on the evolution of music—not to mention painting, theater, science, and modernism. Rosen touches on the usefulness of aesthetic reflection, the pleasure of overcoming stage fright, and the drama of conquering a technically difficult passage. He tells vivid stories about composers from Chopin and Wagner to Stravinsky and Elliott Carter. In Temerson’s questions and Rosen’s responses arise conundrums both practical and metaphysical. Is it possible to understand a work without analyzing it? Does music exist if it isn’t played?Throughout, Rosen returns to the theme of sensuality, arguing that if one does not possess a physical craving to play an instrument, then one should choose another pursuit. Rosen takes readers to the heart of the musical matter. “Music is a way of instructing the soul, making it more sensitive,” he says, “but it is useful only insofar as it is pleasurable. This pleasure is manifest to anyone who experiences music as an inexorable need of body and mind.”
Winner of the Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust ResearchThe scale and the depth of Nazi brutality seem to defy understanding. What could drive people to fight, kill, and destroy with such ruthless ambition? Observers and historians have offered countless explanations since the 1930s. According to Johann Chapoutot, we need to understand better how the Nazis explained it themselves. We need a clearer view, in particular, of how they were steeped in and spread the idea that history gave them no choice: it was either kill or die.Chapoutot, one of France’s leading historians, spent years immersing himself in the texts and images that reflected and shaped the mental world of Nazi ideologues, and that the Nazis disseminated to the German public. The party had no official ur-text of ideology, values, and history. But a clear narrative emerges from the myriad works of intellectuals, apparatchiks, journalists, and movie-makers that Chapoutot explores.The story went like this: In the ancient world, the Nordic-German race lived in harmony with the laws of nature. But since Late Antiquity, corrupt foreign norms and values—Jewish values in particular—had alienated Germany from itself and from all that was natural. The time had come, under the Nazis, to return to the fundamental law of blood. Germany must fight, conquer, and procreate, or perish. History did not concern itself with right and wrong, only brute necessity. A remarkable work of scholarship and insight, The Law of Blood recreates the chilling ideas and outlook that would cost millions their lives.
From Plato through the nineteenth century, the West could draw on comprehensive political visions to guide government and society. Now, for the first time in more than two thousand years, Tracy B. Strong contends, we have lost our foundational supports. In the words of Hannah Arendt, the state of political thought in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has left us effectively “thinking without a banister.”
Contributors. Kenneth Barkin, Nahum Chandler, Ronald Judy, David Krell, Charles Lemert, Sieglinde D. Lemke, Tommy Lott, Kevin Miles, Abdulkarim Mustapha, Ken Warren
What it is like to be an animal? Ron Broglio wants to know from the inside, from underneath the fur and feathers. In examining this question, he bypasses the perspectives of biology or natural history to explore how one can construct an animal phenomenology, to think and feel as an animal other—or any other.
Until now phenomenology has grappled with how humans are embedded in their world. According to philosophical tradition, animals do not practice the self-reflexive thought that provides humans with depth of being. Without human interiority, philosophers have believed, animals live on the surface of things. But, Broglio argues, the surface can be a site of productive engagement with the world of animals, and as such he turns to humans who work with surfaces: contemporary artists.
Taking on the negative claim of animals living only on the surface and turning the premise into a positive set of possibilities for human–animal engagement, Broglio considers artists—including Damien Hirst, Carolee Schneemann, Olly and Suzi, and Marcus Coates—who take seriously the world of the animal on its own terms. In doing so, these artists develop languages of interspecies expression that both challenge philosophy and fashion new concepts for animal studies.
Opposing a long-standing orthodoxy of the Western philosophical tradition running from ancient Greek thought until the late nineteenth century, Frege argued that psychological laws of thought—those that explicate how we in fact think—must be distinguished from logical laws of thought—those that formulate and impose rational requirements on thinking. Logic does not describe how we actually think, but only how we should. Yet by thus sundering the logical from the psychological, Frege was unable to explain certain fundamental logical truths, most notably the psychological version of the law of non-contradiction—that one cannot think a thought and its negation simultaneously.Irad Kimhi’s Thinking and Being marks a radical break with Frege’s legacy in analytic philosophy, exposing the flaws of his approach and outlining a novel conception of judgment as a two-way capacity. In closing the gap that Frege opened, Kimhi shows that the two principles of non-contradiction—the ontological principle and the psychological principle—are in fact aspects of the very same capacity, differently manifested in thinking and being.As his argument progresses, Kimhi draws on the insights of historical figures such as Aristotle, Kant, and Wittgenstein to develop highly original accounts of topics that are of central importance to logic and philosophy more generally. Self-consciousness, language, and logic are revealed to be but different sides of the same reality. Ultimately, Kimhi’s work elucidates the essential sameness of thinking and being that has exercised Western philosophy since its inception.
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.
Knowledge emerges from contexts, which are shaped by people’s experiences. The varied essays in Thinking the US South: Contemporary Philosophy from Southern Perspectives demonstrate that Southern identities, borders, and practices play an important but unacknowledged role in ethical, political, emotional, and global issues connected to knowledge production. Not merely one geographical region among others, the US South is sometimes a fantasy and other times a nightmare, but it is always a prominent component of the American national imaginary. In connection with the Global North and Global South, the US South provides a valuable perspective from which to explore race, class, gender, and other inter- and intra-American differences. The result is a fresh look at how identity is constituted; the role of place, ancestors, and belonging in identity formation; the impact of regional differences on what counts as political resistance; the ways that affect and emotional labor circulate; practices of boundary policing, deportation, and mourning; issues of disability and slowness; racial and other forms of suffering; and above all, the question of whether and how doing philosophy changes when done from Southern standpoints. Examining racist tropes, Indigenous land claims, Black Southern philosophical perspectives, migrant labor, and more, this incisive anthology makes clear that roots matter.
Best known for his books We Have Never Been Modern, Laboratory Life, and Science in Action, Bruno Latour has inspired scholarship across many disciplines. In the past few years, the fields of rhetoric and composition have witnessed an explosion of interest in Latour’s work. Editors Paul Lynch and Nathaniel Rivers have assembled leading and emerging scholars in order to focus the debate on what Latour means for the study of persuasion and written communication.
Essays in this volume discern, rearticulate, and occasionally critique rhetoric and composition’s growing interest in Latour. These contributions include work on topics such as agency, argument, rhetorical history, pedagogy, and technology, among others. Contributors explain key terms, identify implications of Latour’s work for rhetoric and composition, and explore how his theories might inform writing pedagogies and be used to build research methodologies.
Thinking with Bruno Latour in Rhetoric and Composition shows how Latour’s groundbreaking theories on technology, agency, and networks might be taken up, enriched, and extended to challenge scholars in rhetorical studies (both English and communications), composition, and writing studies to rethink some of the field’s most basic assumptions. It is set to become the standard introduction that will appeal not only to those scholars already interested in Latour but also those approaching Latour for the first time.
Why read Kant’s Critique of Judgment today? Does this classic of aesthetic theory still possess the vitality to prompt those of us engaged with art and criticism to think more deeply about issues that move us, issues such as the force of aesthetic experience, the essence of art, and the relationship of beauty and meaning? It does, if we find the right way into it.Michel Chaouli shows us one such way. He unwraps the gray packing paper of Kant’s prose to reveal the fresh and fierce ideas that dwell in this masterpiece—not just the philosopher’s theory of beauty but also his ruminations on organisms and life. Each chapter in Thinking with Kant’s Critique of Judgment unfolds the complexity of a key concept, to disclose its role in Kant’s thought and to highlight the significance it holds for our own thinking.Chaouli invites all who are interested in art and interpretation—novice and expert alike—to set out on the path of thinking with the Critique of Judgment. The rewards are handsome: we see just how profoundly Kant’s book can shape our own ideas about aesthetic experience and meaning. By thinking with Kant, we learn to surpass the horizon of his thought and find ourselves pushed to the very edge of what can be grasped firmly. That is where Kant’s book is at its most thrilling.
What is "art"? Why have human societies through all time and around the globe created those objects we call works of art? Is there any way of defining art that can encompass everything from Paleolithic objects to the virtual images created by the latest computer technology? Questions such as these have preoccupied Esther Pasztory since the beginning of her scholarly career. In this authoritative volume, she distills four decades of research and reflection to propose a pathbreaking new way of understanding what art is and why human beings create it that can be applied to all cultures throughout time.
At its heart, Pasztory's thesis is simple and yet profound. She asserts that humans create things (some of which modern Western society chooses to call "art") in order to work out our ideas—that is, we literally think with things. Pasztory draws on examples from many societies to argue that the art-making impulse is primarily cognitive and only secondarily aesthetic. She demonstrates that "art" always reflects the specific social context in which it is created, and that as societies become more complex, their art becomes more rarefied.
Pasztory presents her thesis in a two-part approach. The first section of the book is an original essay entitled "Thinking with Things" that develops Pasztory's unified theory of what art is and why we create it. The second section is a collection of eight previously published essays that explore the art-making process in both Pre-Columbian and Western societies. Pasztory's work combines the insights of art history and anthropology in the light of poststructuralist ideas. Her book will be indispensable reading for everyone who creates or thinks about works of art.
In this highly original interdisciplinary study incorporating close readings of literary texts and philosophical argumentation, Henry W. Pickford develops a theory of meaning and expression in art intended to counter the meaning skepticism most commonly associated with the theories of Jacques Derrida.
Pickford arrives at his theory by drawing on the writings of Wittgenstein to develop and modify the insights of Tolstoy’s philosophy of art. Pickford shows how Tolstoy’s encounter with Schopenhauer’s thought on the one hand provided support for his ethical views but on the other hand presented a problem, exemplified in the case of music, for his aesthetic theory, a problem that Tolstoy did not successfully resolve. Wittgenstein’s critical appreciation of Tolstoy’s thinking, however, not only recovers its viability but also constructs a formidable position within contemporary debates concerning theories of emotion, ethics, and aesthetic expression.
Alfred North Whitehead has never gone out of print, but for a time he was decidedly out of fashion in the English-speaking world. In a splendid work that serves as both introduction and erudite commentary, Isabelle Stengers—one of today’s leading philosophers of science—goes straight to the beating heart of Whitehead’s thought. The product of thirty years’ engagement with the mathematician-philosopher’s entire canon, this volume establishes Whitehead as a daring thinker on par with Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and Michel Foucault.Reading the texts in broadly chronological order while highlighting major works, Stengers deftly unpacks Whitehead’s often complicated language, explaining the seismic shifts in his thinking and showing how he called into question all that philosophers had considered settled after Descartes and Kant. She demonstrates that the implications of Whitehead’s philosophical theories and specialized knowledge of the various sciences come yoked with his innovative, revisionist take on God. Whitehead’s God exists within a specific epistemological realm created by a radically complex and often highly mathematical language.“To think with Whitehead today,” Stengers writes, “means to sign on in advance to an adventure that will leave none of the terms we normally use as they were.”
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