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Does life have any meaning for you? Is it possible to create meaning? What do you think life is about? Do you think life is worth living?
These questions, taken from the text of Rethinking Our World, challenge the reader to look critically and creatively at many of society’s traditional beliefs. They encourage readers to look at their world differently by asking questions about change, identity and direction. The authors outline the major figures and basic principles of each philosophy, then analyse the type of thinking each approach encourages. They go on to challenge readers to examine ways in which the different approaches can be used to understand the world.
Rethinking Our World will be invaluable to undergraduate students in the human and social sciences, as well as to a more general readership seeking an understanding of the arguments in the major philosophies.
In Critique of Black Reason eminent critic Achille Mbembe offers a capacious genealogy of the category of Blackness-from the Atlantic slave trade to the present-to critically reevaluate history, racism, and the future of humanity. Mbembe teases out the intellectual consequences of the reality that Europe is no longer the world's center of gravity while mapping the relations between colonialism, slavery, and contemporary fi nancial and extractive capital. Tracing the conjunction of Blackness with the biological fiction of race, he theorizes Black reason as the collection of discourses and practices that equated Blackness with the nonhuman in order to uphold forms of oppression. Mbembe powerfully argues that this equation of Blackness with the nonhuman will serve as the template for all new forms of exclusion. With Critique of Black Reason, Mbembe offers nothing less than a map of the world as it has been constituted through colonialism and racial thinking while providing the first glimpses of a more just future.
Why are we so obsessed by the pursuit of happiness? With new ways to measure contentment we are told that we have a right to individual joy. But at what cost? In an age of increasing individualism, we have never been more alone and miserable. But what if the true nature of happiness can only be found in others? In Radical Happiness, leading feminist thinker Lynne Segal believes that we have lost the art of radical happiness-the art of transformative, collective joy. She shows that only in the revolutionary potential of coming together it is that we can come to understand the powers of flourishing. Radical Happiness is a passionate call for the re-discovery of the political and emotional joy that emerge when we learn to share our lives together.
How secularism has been used to justify the subordination of womenJoan Wallach Scott's acclaimed and controversial writings have been foundational for the field of gender history. With Sex and Secularism, Scott challenges one of the central claims of the "clash of civilizations" polemic-the false notion that secularism is a guarantee of gender equality.Drawing on a wealth of scholarship by second-wave feminists and historians of religion, race, and colonialism, Scott shows that the gender equality invoked today as a fundamental and enduring principle was not originally associated with the term "secularism" when it first entered the lexicon in the nineteenth century. In fact, the inequality of the sexes was fundamental to the articulation of the separation of church and state that inaugurated Western modernity. Scott points out that Western nation-states imposed a new order of women's subordination, assigning them to a feminized familial sphere meant to complement the rational masculine realms of politics and economics. It was not until the question of Islam arose in the late twentieth century that gender equality became a primary feature of the discourse of secularism.Challenging the assertion that secularism has always been synonymous with equality between the sexes, Sex and Secularism reveals how this idea has been used to justify claims of white, Western, and Christian racial and religious superiority and has served to distract our attention from a persistent set of difficulties related to gender difference-ones shared by Western and non-Western cultures alike.
Amorous jealousy is not a monster, as Shakespeare's venomous Iago claims. It is neither prickly and bitter fancy, nor a cruel and mean passion, nor a symptom of feeble self-esteem. All those who have experienced its wounds are well aware that it is not callous, nasty, delusional and ridiculous. It is just painful. Yet for centuries moralists have poured scorn and contempt on a feeling that, in their view, we should fight in every possible way. It is allegedly a disease to be treated, a moral vice to be eradicated, an ugly, pre-modern, illiberal, proprietary emotion to be overcome. Above all, no-one should ever admit to being jealous. So should we silence this embarrassing sentiment? Or should we see it, like the heroines of Greek tragedy, as a fundamental human demand for reciprocity in love? By examining its cultural history from the ancient Greeks to La Rochefoucauld, Hobbes, Kant, Stendhal, Freud, Beauvoir, Sartre, and Lacan, this book demonstrates how jealousy, far from being a "green-eyed" fiend, reveals the intense and apprehensive nature of all erotic love, which is the desire to be desired. We should never be ashamed to love.
As a nineteen-year-old undergraduate in 1947, Noam Chomsky was deeply affected by articles about the responsibility of intellectuals written by Dwight Macdonald, an editor of Partisan Review and then of Politics. Twenty years later, as the Vietnam War was escalating, Chomsky turned to the question himself, noting that "intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of governments" and to analyze their "often hidden intentions."
Originally published in the New York Review of Books, Chomsky's essay eviscerated the "hypocritical moralism of the past" (such as when Woodrow Wilson set out to teach Latin Americans "the art of good government") and exposed the shameful policies in Vietnam and the role of intellectuals in justifying it.
Also included in this volume is the brilliant The Responsibility of Intellectuals Redux, written on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, which makes the case for using privilege to challenge the state. As relevant in 2017 as it was in 1967, The Responsibility of Intellectuals reminds us that "privilege yields opportunity and opportunity confers responsibilities.
What do the invention of anaesthetics in the middle of the 19th century, the Nazis' use of cocaine, and the development of Prozac have in common? The answer is that they're all products of the same logic that defines our contemporary era: "the age of anaesthesia". In Narcocapitalism, Laurent de Sutter shows how chemistry has become so much a part of us that we can't even see how much it has changed us. He retraces the unexpected stories that show how large aspects of our lives are now characterised by the management of our emotions through drugs, ranging from the everyday use of sleeping pills to hard narcotics. In this era, being a subject doesn't simply mean being subjected to powers that decide how our lives should unfold: it means that our very emotions have been outsourced to chemical stimulation. Yet we don't understand why the drugs that we take are unable to free us from fatigue and depression, and from the absence of desire that now characterizes our psychopolitical condition. We have forgotten what it means to be excited because our only excitement has become drug-induced. We have to abandon the narcotic stimulation that we've come to rely on and find a way back to the collective excitement that is narcocapitalism's greatest fear.
"I am the supercommunity, and you are only starting to recognize me. I grew out of something that used to be humanity. Some have compared me to angry crowds in public squares; others compare me to wind and atmosphere, or to software." Invited to exhibit at the 56th Venice Biennale, e-flux journal produced a single issue over a four-month span, publishing an article a day both online and on site from Venice. In essays, poems, short stories, and plays, artists and theorists trace the negative collective that is the subject of contemporary life, in which art, the internet, and globalization have shed their utopian guises but persist as naked power, in the face of apocalyptic ecological disaster and against the claims of the social commons. "I convert care to cruelty, and cruelty back to care. I convert political desires to economic flows and data, and then I convert them back again. I convert revolutions to revelations. I don't want, I want to leave, and then disperse myself everywhere and all the time."
Internationally acclaimed as a novelist, Siri Hustvedt is also highly regarded as a writer of non-fiction whose insights are drawn from her broad knowledge in the arts, humanities, and sciences. In this trilogy of works collected in a single volume, Hustvedt brings a feminist, interdisciplinary perspective to a range of subjects. Louise Bourgeois, Pablo Picasso, Susan Sontag and Knut Ove Knausgaard are among those who come under her scrutiny. In the book's central essay, she explores the intractable mind-body problem and in the third section, reflects on the mysteries of hysteria, synesthesia, memory, perception, and the philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard. With clarity, wit, and passion, she exposes gender bias, upends received ideas, and challenges her reader to think again.
The story of the greatest of all philosophical friendships-and how it influenced modern thoughtDavid Hume is widely regarded as the most important philosopher ever to write in English, but during his lifetime he was attacked as "the Great Infidel" for his skeptical religious views and deemed unfit to teach the young. In contrast, Adam Smith was a revered professor of moral philosophy, and is now often hailed as the founding father of capitalism. Remarkably, the two were best friends for most of their adult lives, sharing what Dennis Rasmussen calls the greatest of all philosophical friendships. The Infidel and the Professor is the first book to tell the fascinating story of the friendship of these towering Enlightenment thinkers-and how it influenced their world-changing ideas.The book follows Hume and Smith's relationship from their first meeting in 1749 until Hume's death in 1776. It describes how they commented on each other's writings, supported each other's careers and literary ambitions, and advised each other on personal matters, most notably after Hume's quarrel with Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Members of a vibrant intellectual scene in Enlightenment Scotland, Hume and Smith made many of the same friends (and enemies), joined the same clubs, and were interested in many of the same subjects well beyond philosophy and economics-from psychology and history to politics and Britain's conflict with the American colonies. The book reveals that Smith's private religious views were considerably closer to Hume's public ones than is usually believed. It also shows that Hume contributed more to economics-and Smith contributed more to philosophy-than is generally recognized.Vividly written, The Infidel and the Professor is a compelling account of a great friendship that had great consequences for modern thought.
Political philosophy seems both impossible to do and impossible to avoid. Impossible to do, because we cannot agree on a single set of political principles. Impossible to avoid, because we're always living with some kind of political system, and thus some set of principles. So, if we can't do the philosophy, but can't escape the politics, what are we to do? Jonathan Floyd argues that the answer lies in political philosophy's deepest methodological commitments. First, he shows how political philosophy is practiced as a kind of 'thinking about thinking'. Second, he unpicks the different types of thought we think about, such as considered judgements, or intuitive responses to moral dilemmas, and assesses whether any are fit for purpose. Third, he offers an alternative approach - 'normative behaviourism' - which holds that rather than studying our thinking, we should study our behaviour. Perhaps, just sometimes, actions speak louder than thoughts.
A major intellectual history of the American Revolution and its influence on later revolutions in Europe and the AmericasThe Expanding Blaze is a sweeping history of how the American Revolution inspired revolutions throughout Europe and the Atlantic world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Jonathan Israel, one of the world's leading historians of the Enlightenment, shows how the radical ideas of American founders such as Paine, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Monroe set the pattern for democratic revolutions, movements, and constitutions in France, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Greece, Canada, Haiti, Brazil, and Spanish America.The Expanding Blaze reminds us that the American Revolution was an astonishingly radical event-and that it didn't end with the transformation and independence of America. Rather, the Revolution continued to reverberate in Europe and the Americas for the next three-quarters of a century. This comprehensive history of the Revolution's international influence traces how American efforts to implement Radical Enlightenment ideas-including the destruction of the old regime and the promotion of democratic republicanism, self-government, and liberty-helped drive revolutions abroad, as foreign leaders explicitly followed the American example and espoused American democratic values.The first major new intellectual history of the age of democratic revolution in decades, The Expanding Blaze returns the American Revolution to its global context.
Aging brings distinctive discoveries and challenges, as well as difficulties. People age in many different ways, but we can learn from shared experiences and insights. Instead of thinking about this stage of life as a time to wilt, we need to think boldly and carefully about the active living that we can do for an increasing number of years. The conversations, or paired essays, in this book juxtapose a philosopher's approach with that of a lawyer-economist. There are ideas about when to retire, how to refashion social security to help the elderly poor, how to learn from King Lear - who failed to retire successfully, and whether to enjoy or criticize anti-aging cosmetic procedures. Some questions are very general: What is friendship as we age? What becomes of love and sex? What goals should a decent public policy have toward aging citizens? Some of the ideas are more immediately practical; the essays deal with philanthropic decisions, relations with one's children and grandchildren, the purchase of annuities, and how to provide for care in old age. And some of the ideas are just interesting; they include the treatment of aging women in a Strauss opera and in many films, as well as some consideration of Donald Trump's marriages to much younger women. The overall goal is to show how much fun discussion about aging can be and, in the end, how to age thoughtfully and encourage one's parents and friends to do so as well.
`IB was one of the great affirmers of our time.' John Banville, New York Review of Books The title of this final volume of Isaiah Berlin's letters is echoed by John Banville's verdict in his review of its predecessor, Building: Letters 1960-75, which saw Berlin publish some of his most important work, and create, in Oxford's Wolfson College, an institutional and architectural legacy. In the period covered by this new volume (1975-97) he consolidates his intellectual legacy with a series of essay collections. These generate many requests for clarification from his readers, and stimulate him to reaffirm and sometimes refine his ideas, throwing substantive new light on his thought as he grapples with human issues of enduring importance. Berlin's comments on world affairs, especially the continuing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and the collapse of Communism, are characteristically acute. This is also the era of the Northern Ireland Troubles, the Iranian revolution, the rise of Solidarity in Poland, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the spread of Islamic fundamentalism, and wars in the Falkland Islands, the Persian Gulf and the Balkans. Berlin scrutinises the leading politicians of the day, including Reagan, Thatcher and Gorbachev, and draws illuminating sketches of public figures, notably contrasting the personas of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Andrey Sakharov. He declines a peerage, is awarded the Agnelli Prize for ethics, campaigns against philistine architecture in London and Jerusalem, helps run the National Gallery and Covent Garden, and talks at length to his biographer. He reflects on the ideas for which he is famous - especially liberty and pluralism - and there is a generous leavening of the conversational brilliance for which he is also renowned, as he corresponds with friends about politics, the academic world, music and musicians, art and artists, and writers and their work, always displaying a Shakespearean fascination with the variety of humankind. Affirming is the crowning achievement both of Berlin's epistolary life and of the widely acclaimed edition of his letters whose first volume appeared in 2004.
'In this thought-provoking book, Massimo Pigliucci shares his journey of discovering the power of Stoic practices in a philosophical dialogue with one of Stoicism's greatest teachers.' RYAN HOLIDAY, BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY AND THE DAILY STOIC Who am I? What am I doing? How ought I to live my life? Stoicism teaches us to acknowledge our emotions, reflect on what causes them and redirect them for our own good. Whenever we worry about how to be happy, we are worrying about how to lead a good life. No goal seems more elusive. Massimo Pigliucci explores this remarkable philosophy and how its wisdom can be applied to our everyday lives in the quest for meaning. He shows how stoicism teaches us the importance of a person's character, integrity and compassion. Whoever we are, we can take something away from stoicism and, in How to be a Stoic, with its practical tips and exercises, meditations and mindfulness, he also explains how relevant it is to every part of our modern lives.
Humans are justificatory beings - they offer, demand, and require justifications. The rules and institutions they follow rest on justification narratives that have evolved over time and, taken together, constitute a dynamic and tension-laden normative order. In this collection of essays, the first translation into English of the ground-breaking Normativitat und Macht (Suhrkamp 2015), Rainer Forst presents a new approach to critical theory. Each essay reflects on the basic principles that guide our normative thinking. Forst's argument goes beyond 'ideal' and 'realist' theories and shows how closely the concepts of normativity and power are interrelated, and how power rests on the capacity to influence, determine, and possibly restrict the space of justifications for others. By combining insights from the disciplines of philosophy, history, and the social sciences, Forst revaluates theories of justice, as well as of power, and provides the tools for a critical theory of relations of justification.
Byung-Chul Han, a star of German philosophy, continues his passionate critique of neoliberalism, trenchantly describing a regime of technological domination that, in contrast to Foucault's biopower, has discovered the productive force of the psyche. In the course of discussing all the facets of neoliberal psychopolitics fueling our contemporary crisis of freedom, Han elaborates an analytical framework that provides an original theory of Big Data and a lucid phenomenology of emotion. But this provocative essay proposes counter models too, presenting a wealth of ideas and surprising alternatives at every turn.
Democracy for Realists assails the romantic folk-theory at the heart of contemporary thinking about democratic politics and government, and offers a provocative alternative view grounded in the actual human nature of democratic citizens.Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels deploy a wealth of social-scientific evidence, including ingenious original analyses of topics ranging from abortion politics and budget deficits to the Great Depression and shark attacks, to show that the familiar ideal of thoughtful citizens steering the ship of state from the voting booth is fundamentally misguided. They demonstrate that voters-even those who are well informed and politically engaged-mostly choose parties and candidates on the basis of social identities and partisan loyalties, not political issues. They also show that voters adjust their policy views and even their perceptions of basic matters of fact to match those loyalties. When parties are roughly evenly matched, elections often turn on irrelevant or misleading considerations such as economic spurts or downturns beyond the incumbents' control; the outcomes are essentially random. Thus, voters do not control the course of public policy, even indirectly.Achen and Bartels argue that democratic theory needs to be founded on identity groups and political parties, not on the preferences of individual voters. Democracy for Realists provides a powerful challenge to conventional thinking, pointing the way toward a fundamentally different understanding of the realities and potential of democratic government.Now with new analysis of the 2016 elections, Democracy for Realists provides a powerful challenge to conventional thinking, pointing the way toward a fundamentally different understanding of the realities and potential of democratic government.
No nineteenth-century American writer can claim to be as modern as Henry David Thoreau. His central preoccupations - the illusory nature of much of what we call `progress', the proper symbiotic relationship between man and the natural environment, the limitations of government, especially where it seeks to intrude on the personal, the moral and political case for non-violence, the dubious pleasures of material comforts, our intoxication with excess, our unrelenting search for the `rules' by which we might live our lives - these, and many other matters are as real to us now as they were to Thoreau in 1845 when he began his experiment in self-sufficiency. Walden is his autobiographical record of his life of relative isolation at Walden Pond, some twenty miles west of the city of Boston, but it is also a work of detailed natural history and the expression of a philosophy of life by a deeply poetic sensibility. His essay (originally a lecture), `Civil Disobedience', has over the 150 or so years since its publication exerted an enormous influence, animating thinkers such as Leo Tolstoy and Mohandas Gandhi as well as political movements such as the British Labour Party, the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, and various forms of oppositional activism across the globe. Walden and `Civil Disobedience' are reprinted here in a new edition alongside three of Thoreau's seminal essays, `Slavery in Massachusetts', `A Plea for Captain John Brown', and `Life Without Principle'. Henry Claridge's introduction illuminates the extent to which Thoreau's writings and his thinking were a response to the dramatic changes wrought by the physical expansion of the United States and the migration of European peoples across the American sub-continent in the first half of the nineteenth-century. The edition also comes with a bibliography and extensive explanatory notes.
Many people regard Hegel's work as obscure and extremely difficult, yet his importance and influence are universally acknowledged. Peter Singer eliminates any excuse for remaining ignorant of the outlines of Hegel's philosophy by providing a broad discussion of his ideas and an account of his major works.
Why our workplaces are authoritarian private governments-and why we can't see itOne in four American workers says their workplace is a "dictatorship." Yet that number probably would be even higher if we recognized most employers for what they are-private governments with sweeping authoritarian power over our lives, on duty and off. We normally think of government as something only the state does, yet many of us are governed far more-and far more obtrusively-by the private government of the workplace. In this provocative and compelling book, Elizabeth Anderson argues that the failure to see this stems from long-standing confusions. These confusions explain why, despite all evidence to the contrary, we still talk as if free markets make workers free-and why so many employers advocate less government even while they act as dictators in their businesses.In many workplaces, employers minutely regulate workers' speech, clothing, and manners, leaving them with little privacy and few other rights. And employers often extend their authority to workers' off-duty lives. Workers can be fired for their political speech, recreational activities, diet, and almost anything else employers care to govern. Yet we continue to talk as if early advocates of market society-from John Locke and Adam Smith to Thomas Paine and Abraham Lincoln-were right when they argued that it would free workers from oppressive authorities. That dream was shattered by the Industrial Revolution, but the myth endures.Private Government offers a better way to talk about the workplace, opening up space for discovering how workers can enjoy real freedom.Based on the prestigious Tanner Lectures delivered at Princeton University's Center for Human Values, Private Government is edited and introduced by Stephen Macedo and includes commentary by cultural critic David Bromwich, economist Tyler Cowen, historian Ann Hughes, and philosopher Niko Kolodny.
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