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The first comprehensive collection of the work of Richard Rorty(1931-2007), The Rorty Reader brings together the influentialAmerican philosopher s essential essays from over fourdecades of writings. * Offers a comprehensive introduction to Richard Rorty's life andbody of work * Brings key essays published across many volumes and journalsinto one collection, including selections from his final volume ofphilosophical papers, Philosophy as Cultural Politics (2007)) * Contains the previously unpublished (in English) essay, Redemption from Egotism * Includes in-depth interviews, and several revealingautobiographical pieces * Represents the fullest portrait available today onRorty s relationship with American pragmatism and thetrajectory of his thought
In this newest installment in Chicago's series of Jacques Derrida's seminars, the renowned philosopher attempts one of his most ambitious goals: the first truly philosophical argument against the death penalty. While much has been written against the death penalty, Derrida contends that Western philosophy is massively, if not always obviously, complicit with a logic in which a sovereign state has the right to take a life. Haunted by this notion, he turns to the key places where such logic has been established - and to the place it has been most effectively challenged: literature. With his signature genius and patient yet dazzling readings of an impressive breadth of texts, Derrida examines everything from the Bible to Plato to Camus to Jean Genet, with special attention to Kant and post-World War II juridical texts, to draw the landscape of death penalty discourses. Keeping clearly in view the death rows and execution chambers of the United States, he shows how arguments surrounding cruel and unusual punishment depend on what he calls an "anaesthesial logic," which has also driven the development of death penalty technology from the French guillotine to lethal injection. Confronting a demand for philosophical rigor, he pursues provocative analyses of the shortcomings of abolitionist discourse. Above all, he argues that the death penalty and its attendant technologies are products of a desire to put an end to one of the most fundamental qualities of our finite existence: the radical uncertainty of when we will die. Arriving at a critical juncture in history - especially in the United States, one of the last Christian-inspired democracies to resist abolition - The Death Penalty is both a timely response to an important ethical debate and a timeless addition to Derrida's esteemed body of work.
"For an acquaintance with the thought of Heidegger, What Is Called Thinking? is as important as Being and Time. It is the only systematic presentation of the thinker's late philosophy and . . . it is perhaps the most exciting of his books."--Hannah Arendt
Is contemporary continental philosophy making a break with Kant? The structures of knowledge, taken for granted since Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, are now being called into question: the finitude of the subject, the phenomenal given, a priori synthesis. Relinquish the transcendental: such is the imperative of postcritical thinking in the 21st century. Questions that we no longer thought it possible to ask now reemerge with renewed vigor: can Kant really maintain the difference between a priori and innate? Can he deduce, rather than impose, the categories, or justify the necessity of nature? Recent research into brain development aggravates these suspicions, which measure transcendental idealism against the thesis of a biological origin for cognitive processes. In her important new book Catherine Malabou lays out Kant's response to his posterity. True to its subject, the book evolves as an epigenesis the differentiated growth of the embryo for, as those who know how to read critical philosophy affirm, this is the very life of the transcendental and contains the promise of its transformation.
Originally published in French in 1997 and appearing here in English for the first time, David Lapoujade's William James: Empiricism and Pragmatism is both an accessible and rigorous introduction to James's thought and a pioneering rereading of it. Examining pragmatism's fundamental questions through a Deleuzian framework, Lapoujade outlines how James's pragmatism and radical empiricism encompass the study of experience and the making of reality, and he reopens the speculative side of pragmatist thought and the role of experience in it. The book includes an extensive afterword by translator Thomas Lamarre, who illustrates how James's interventions are becoming increasingly central to the contemporary debates about materialist ontology, affect, and epistemology that strive to bridge the gaps among science studies, media studies, and religious studies.
In the first volume of his extraordinary analysis of the death penalty, Jacques Derrida began a journey toward an ambitious end: the first truly philosophical argument against the death penalty. Exploring an impressive breadth of thought, he traced a deeply entrenched logic throughout the whole of Western philosophy that has justified the state's right to take a life. He also marked literature as a crucial place where this logic has been most effectively challenged. In this second and final volume, Derrida builds on these analyses toward a definitive argument against capital punishment. Of central importance in this second volume is Kant's explicit justification of the death penalty in the Metaphysics of Morals. Thoroughly deconstructing Kant's position which holds the death penalty as exemplary of the eye-for-an-eye Talionic law Derrida exposes numerous damning contradictions and exceptions. Keeping the current death penalty in the United States in view, he further explores the "anesthesial logic" he analyzed in volume one, addressing the themes of cruelty and pain through texts by Robespierre and Freud, reading Heidegger, and in a fascinating, improvised final session the nineteenth-century Spanish Catholic thinker Donoso Cortes. Ultimately, Derrida shows that the rationality of the death penalty as represented by Kant involves an imposition of knowledge and calculability on a fundamental condition of non-knowledge that we don't otherwise know what or when our deaths will be. In this way, the death penalty acts out a phantasm of mastery over one's own death. Derrida's thoughts arrive at a particular moment in history: when the death penalty in the United States is the closest it has ever been to abolition, and yet when the arguments on all sides are as confused as ever. His powerful analysis will prove to be a paramount contribution to this debate as well as a lasting entry in his celebrated oeuvre.
These lectures by one of the most influential and original philosophers of the twentieth century constitute a sustained argument for the philosophical basis of romanticism, particularly in its American rendering. Through his examination of such authors as Emerson, Thoreau, Poe, Wordsworth, and Coleridge, Stanley Cavell shows that romanticism and American transcendentalism represent a serious philosophical response to the challenge of skepticism that underlies the writings of Wittgenstein and Austin on ordinary language.
After his intellectual biography of Saint Augustine of Hippo, Miles Hollingworth now turns his attention to one of Augustine's greatest modern admirers: The Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein's influence on post-war philosophical investigation has been pervasive, while his eccentric personal life has entered folklore. Yet his religious mysticism has remained elusive and undisturbed. In Ludwig Wittgenstein, Hollingworth continues to pioneer a new kind of biographical writing. It stands at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and literary criticism, and is as much concerned with the secret agendas of life writing as it is with its subjects. Here, Wittgenstein is allowed to become the ultimate test case. From first to last, his philosophy sought to demonstrate that intellectual certainty is a function of the method it employs, rather than a knowledge of the existence or non-existence of its objectsa devastating insight that appears to make the natural and the supernatural into equally useless examples of each other. Scattered in every direction by this challenge to meaning, this biography attempts to retrieve itself around the spirit of the man who could say such things. This act of recovery thus performs what could not otherwise be explained, which is something like Wittgenstein's private conversation with God.
Levinas and Lacan traces the similar concepts and logics of Jacques Lacan and Emmanuel Levinas, to explicitly render the rigorous questioning of the philosophic tradition undertaken by these thinkers, and to articulate the theoretical stakes and practical consequences of such a conjunction for ethics. In this book, contemporary philosophers examine this missed encounter between Levinas and Lacan by tracing their preoccupation with issues that emerge in late modernity: language, subjectivity, alterity, and ethics.
The boundaries of Walter Benjamin's work still resist classification and demarcation. His writings, including the best-known collection, Illuminations, remain an uneasy but thrilling combination of the actual and the mystical, of Marxism and the messianic utopianism.
This collection shows how extraordinarily substantial were the footholds which Benjamin supplied: Irving Wohlfarth takes up the troubling question of historical understanding versus historicism in his essay The Actuality of Walter Benjamin. Also included are essays on Benjamin and the sources of Judaism, feminism and cultural analysis, and images in Benjamin's novels and other writings.
In March of 1980, just a month before Sartre's death, Le Nouvel Observateur published a series of interviews, the last ever given, between the blind and debilitated philosopher and his young assistant, Benny Levy. Some readers were scandalized and denounced the interviews as distorted, inauthentic, even fraudulent. They seemed to portray a Sartre who had abandoned his leftist convictions and rejected his most intimate friends, including Simone de Beauvoir. This man had cast aside his own fundamental beliefs in the primacy of individual consciousness, the inevitability of violence, and Marxism, embracing instead a messianic Judaism. No, Sartre's supporters argued, it was his interlocutor, the ex-radical, the recently converted orthodox Jew, who had twisted the words and thoughts of an ailing Sartre to his own ends. Or had he? Shortly before his death, Sartre confirmed the authenticity of the interviews and their puzzling content. Over the past fifteen years, it has become the task of Sartre scholars to unravel and understand them. Presented in this fresh, meticulous translation, the interviews are framed by two provocative essays by Benny Levy himself, accompanied by a comprehensive introduction from noted Sartre authority Ronald Aronson. Placing the interviews in proper biographical and philosophical perspective, Aronson demonstrates that the thought of both Sartre and Levy reveals multiple intentions that, taken together, confirm and add to Sartre's overall philosophy. This absorbing volume at last contextualizes and elucidates the final thoughts of a brilliant and influential mind.
The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of the Cold War but also the rise of a melancholic vision of history as a series of losses. For the political left, the cause lost was communism, and this trauma determined how leftists wrote the next chapter in their political struggle and how they have thought about their past since. Throughout the twentieth century, argues Left-Wing Melancholia, from classical Marxism to psychoanalysis to the advent of critical theory, a culture of defeat and its emotional overlay of melancholy have characterized the leftist understanding of the political in history and in theoretical critique. Drawing on a vast and diverse archive in theory, testimony, and image and on such thinkers as Karl Marx, Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, and others, the intellectual historian Enzo Traverso explores the varying nature of left melancholy as it has manifested in a feeling of guilt for not sufficiently challenging authority, in a fear of surrendering in disarray and resignation, in mourning the human costs of the past, and in a sense of failure for not realizing utopian aspirations. Yet hidden within this melancholic tradition are the resources for a renewed challenge to prevailing regimes of historicity, a passion that has the power to reignite the dialectic of revolutionary thought.
This study seeks to resolve the paradox of Hannah Arendt's ideas; that she intended her work to liberate and empower and to restore our capacity for concerted political action whilst at the same time developed a metaphor of "the social" as an alien, all consuming monster appearing from outer space to gobble up human freedom. Arendt blames it - not us - for our public paralysis and depoliticization. The text traces Arendt's notion of "the social" from her earliest writings to "The Human Condition" and beyond, interpreting each work in its historical and personal context. The answer considers language and rhetoric, psychology and gender, authority and the nature of political theory itself. There are repeated challenges on established interpretations of Arendt's project, including the role in it of her teacher and lover Martin Heidegger and her supposed neglect of economic concerns.
Though James Joyce was steeped in philosophy and humanism, he has received too little attention from contemporary philosophers in comparison to many of the other titans of modernist fiction. This book probes the possibilities for thinking philosophically about Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses, presenting readings by renowned scholars such David Hills, Garry L. Hagberg, Vicki Mahaffey, Martha C. Nussbaum, Sam Slote, Wendy J. Truran, and Philip Kitcher, who also provides an introduction to the volume that considers broader themes and situates Ulysses as a work of philosophical interest. For the central characters of Ulysses-Leopold Bloom, Molly Bloom, and Stephen Dedalus, "How to live?" is an urgent question. Each must either start anew, or attempt to recover lost paths. Chapters plumb the depths of the philosophical quandaries that present themselves to these characters-reflections on death and overcoming disgust, Leopold Bloom's evocations of conscious thought, the dominance of vision in our thinking about the senses, identity, and the possibility of revising one's values are only a handful of the subjects covered in the volume. Ulysses is an intrinsically and deeply philosophical work, and these readings provide new inroads and firm orientation for Joyce's project. Readers will come away with renewed appreciation for one of our greatest works of literature in the English language, and deepened understanding of Joyce's attempt to offer alternative ways of structuring and enriching the world of our experience.
This text offers a critique of the ideological roots of the "deep ecology" movement spreading throughout Germany, France and the United States. Traditional ecological movements, or "democratic ecology," seek to protect the environment of human societies. But another movement has become the refuge both of nostalgic counterrevolutionaries and of leftist illusions, namely "deep ecology." The human species is no longer at the centre of the world, but subject to a new god called Nature. For these purists, man can only soil the harmony of the universe. In order to secure natural equilibrium, the only solution is to grant rights to animals, to trees and to rocks. Ferry examines early European legal cases concerning the status and rights of animals and then demonstrates that German Romanticism embraced certain key ideas of the deep ecology movement concerning the protection of animals and the environment. Ferry deciphers the philosophical and political assumptions of a movement that threatens to infantalize human society by preying on the fear of the authority of a new theological-political order. Far from denying our "duty in relation to nature," this text cautions against the dangers of environmental claims and against the threat to democracy contained in the deep ecology doctrine when pushed to its extreme.
The significant changes that have dominated the social and the scientific world over the last thirty years have brought about upheavals and critical re-appraisals that have proved quite positive in fostering 21st century thought. This interdisciplinary collection of state-of-the-art essays offers innovative and thought-provoking insights concerning contemporary philosophical and cultural reflection on the nature-culture interaction. Starting from the assumption that the binary opposition between the two terms has been replaced by a continuum of the two, the volume explores both the terms of this new interaction, and its implications. Technology occupies a central place in the shift towards a nature-cultural continuum, but it is not the only factor. The consequences of economic globalization, notably the global spread of digital mediation, also account for this change of perspective. Last but not least the climate change issue and a renewed urgency around the state of the environmental crisis also contribute to bring the 'natural' much closer to home. Digital mediation has by now become a standard way to live and interact. The electronic frontier has altered dramatically the practice of education and research, especially in the Humanities and social sciences, with direct consequences for the institutional practice and the methodology of these disciplinary fields. This book aims to explore the implications of these complex shifts for the practice of critical thinking.
The Concept of Resistance in Italy brings together experts from different fields to reflect in a new, comprehensive critical approach, on an event that has shaped the young Italian nation from the onset of Fascism in the early 20s. Although grounded in the Italian context, its theoretical frameworks, provided by the variety of disciplines involved in the volume, will prove beneficial for any critical discourse on the concept of resistance nowadays. Moving from a reflection on the legacy of the Italian Resistance to Fascism and the Resistance Movement born in the latest years of WWII, when Italy witnessed the presence on its territory of foreign troops from opposite corners, and was involved in a Civil War at the very same time, this collection reassesses the concept of Resistance within the Italian 20th and 21st century cultural context, moving beyond historical perspectives. The multidisciplinary scope allows for an historical, philosophical and artistic exploration of the concrete actions that define resistance to Fascism, and the Resistance Movement during WWII, their representations in literature, cinema and music, and the more abstract philosophical concept of Resistance in a rapidly changing globalized world, with oppressive political orders, new global economic structures, and emerging new philosophical fields.
In this book, one of Italy's most important and original
contemporary philosophers considers the status of art in the modern
era. He takes seriously Hegel's claim that art has exhausted its
spiritual vocation, that it is no longer through art that Spirit
principally comes to knowledge of itself. He argues, however, that
Hegel by no means proclaimed the "death of art" (as many still
imagine) but proclaimed rather the indefinite continuation of art
in what Hegel called a "self-annulling" mode.
Arguably the most prolific and most widely read philosopher of our time, Slavoj Zizek has made indelible interventions into many disciplines of the so-called human sciences that have transformed the terms of discussion in these fields. Although his work has been the subject of many volumes of searching criticism and commentary, there is no assessment to date of the value of his work for the development of these disciplines. "Zizek Now" brings together distinguished critics to explore the utility and far-ranging implications of Zizek's thought and provide an evaluation of the difference his work makes or promises to make in their chosen fields. As such, the volume offers chapters on quantum physics and Zizek's transcendentalist materialist theory of the subject, Hegel's absolute, materialist Christianity, postcolonial violence, eco-politics, ceremonial acts, and the postcolonial revolutionary subject. Contributors to the volume include Adrian Johnston, Ian Parker, Todd McGowan, Bruno Bosteels, Erik Vogt, Verena Conley, Joshua Ramey, Jamil Khader, and Zizek himself.
Throughout his diverse and highly influential career, Hilary Putnam was famous for changing his mind. As a pragmatist he treated philosophical "positions" as experiments in deliberate living. His aim was not to fix on one position but to attempt to do justice to the depth and complexity of reality. In this new collection, he and Ruth Anna Putnam argue that key elements of the classical pragmatism of William James and John Dewey provide a framework for the most progressive and forward-looking forms of philosophy in contemporary thought. The Putnams present a compelling defense of the radical originality of the philosophical ideas of James and Dewey and their usefulness in confronting the urgent social, political, and moral problems of the twenty-first century. Pragmatism as a Way of Life brings together almost all of the Putnams' pragmatist writings-essays they wrote as individuals and as coauthors. The pragmatism they endorse, though respectful of the sciences, is an open experience-based philosophy of our everyday lives that trenchantly criticizes the fact/value dualism running through contemporary culture. Hilary Putnam argues that all facts are dependent on cognitive values, while Ruth Anna Putnam turns the problem around, illuminating the factual basis of moral principles. Together, they offer a shared vision which, in Hilary's words, "could serve as a manifesto for what the two of us would like philosophy to look like in the twenty-first century and beyond."
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