The Democracy of Objects


Levi Bryant - 2011
    In The Democracy of Objects, Bryant proposes that we break with this tradition and once again initiate the project of ontology as first philosophy. Drawing on the object-oriented ontology of Graham Harman, as well as the thought of Roy Bhaskar, Gilles Deleuze, Niklas Luhman, Aristotle, Jacques Lacan, Bruno Latour and the developmental systems theorists, Bryant develops a realist ontology that he calls “onticology”. This ontology argues that being is composed entirely of objects, properties, and relations such that subjects themselves are a variant of objects. Drawing on the work of the systems theorists and cyberneticians, Bryant argues that objects are dynamic systems that relate to the world under conditions of operational closure. In this way, he is able to integrate the most vital discoveries of the anti-realists within a realist ontology that does justice to both the material and cultural. Onticology proposes a flat ontology where objects of all sorts and at different scales equally exist without being reducible to other objects and where there are no transcendent entities such as eternal essences outside of dynamic interactions among objects.ull text available here:http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/...

The Hegel Variations: On the Phenomenology of Spirit


Fredric Jameson - 2010
    Hegel's mind is revealed to be a less systematic mechanism than normally thought, one whose ideas never solidify into pure abstractions. The conclusion of the Phenomenology, on the aftermath of the French Revolution, is examined as a provisional stalemate between the political and the social—a situation from which Jameson draws important lessons for our own age.

Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures


Graham Harman - 2010
    In 1997, Graham Harman was an obscure graduate student covering Chicago sporting events for a California website. Unpublished in philosophy at the time, he was already a popular conference speaker on Heidegger and related themes. Little more than a decade later, as the author of stimulating and highly visible books on continental philosophy, he was Associate Vice Provost for Research at the American University in Cairo, and a key member of the Speculative Realist movement along with Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, and Quentin Meillassoux. This fascinating collection of eleven essays and lectures from 1997-2009, anchored by Harman's rebellious transformation of Heideggerian philosophy, show the evolution of his object-oriented metaphysics from its early days into an increasingly developed philosophical position. Each chapter is preceded by Harman's delightful and witty scene-setting commentary.

Organs without Bodies: Deleuze and Consequences


Slavoj Žižek - 2003
    In his inimical style, Zizek links Deleuze's work with both Oedipus and Hegel, figures from whom the French philosopher distanced himself. Zizek turns some Deleuzian concepts around in order to explore the 'organs without bodies' in such films as Fight Club and the works of Hitchcock. Finally, he attacks what he sees as the 'radical chic' Deleuzians, arguing that such projects turn Deleuze into an ideologist of today's 'digital capitalism'. With his brilliant energy and fearless argumentation, Zizek sets out to restore a truer, more radical Deleuze than the one we thought we knew.

Introduction to Sociology


Theodor W. Adorno - 1968
    Adorno in May-July 1968, the last lecture series before his death in 1969. Captured by tape recorder (which Adorno called "the fingerprint of the living mind"), these lectures present a somewhat different, and more accessible, Adorno from the one who composed the faultlessly articulated and almost forbiddingly perfect prose of the works published in his lifetime. Here we can follow Adorno's thought in the process of formation (he spoke from brief notes), endowed with the spontaneity and energy of the spoken word. The lectures form an ideal introduction to Adorno's work, acclimatizing the reader to the greater density of thought and language of his classic texts.Delivered at the time of the "positivist dispute" in sociology, Adorno defends the position of the "Frankfurt School" against criticism from mainstream positivist sociologists. He sets out a conception of sociology as a discipline going beyond the compilation and interpretation of empirical facts, its truth being inseparable from the essential structure of society itself. Adorno sees sociology not as one academic discipline among others, but as an over-arching discipline that impinges on all aspects of social life.Tracing the history of the discipline and insisting that the historical context is constitutive of sociology itself, Adorno addresses a wide range of topics, including: the purpose of studying sociology; the relation of sociology and politics; the influence of Saint-Simon, Comte, Durkheim, Weber, Marx, and Freud; the contributions of ethnology and anthropology; the relationship of method to subject matter; the problems of quantitative analysis; the fetishization of science; and the separation of sociology and social philosophy.

Ruling The Void: The Hollowing Of Western Democracy


Peter Mair - 2009
    Peter Mair’s new book weighs the impact of these changes, which together show that, after a century of democratic aspiration, electorates are deserting the political arena. Mair examines the alarming parallel development that has seen Europe’s political elites remodel themselves as a homogeneous professional class, withdrawing into state institutions that offer relative stability in a world of fickle voters. Meanwhile, non-democratic agencies and practices proliferate and gain credibility—not least among them the European Union itself, an organization contributing to the depoliticization of the member states and one whose notorious ‘democratic deficit’ reflects the deliberate intentions of its founders.Ruling the Void offers an authoritative and chilling assessment of the prospects for popular political representation today, not only in the varied democracies of Europe but throughout the developed world.From the Trade Paperback edition.

Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left


Judith Butler - 2000
    Their essays, organized as separate contributions that respond to one another, range over the Hegelian legacy in contemporary critical theory, the theoretical dilemmas of multiculturalism, the universalism-versus-particularism debate, the strategies of the Left in a global economy, and the relative merits of post-structuralism and Lacanian psychoanalysis for a critical social theory.

Foucault and Queer Theory


Tamsin Spargo - 1995
    In the POSTMODERN ENCOUNTERS series and providing a brief introduction to Foucault's compelling ideas and the development of Queer culture, this is the meeting place between the Frenchman's theories of sexuality, power and discourse and the current key exponents of Queer thinking.

The Idea of Communism


Costas Douzinas - 2010
    This volume brings together their discussions on the philosophical and political import of the communist idea, highlighting both its continuing significance and the need to reconfigure the concept within a world marked by havoc and crisis.

Introduction to Critical Theory: Horkheimer to Habermas


David Held - 1980
    They became a key element in the formation and self-understanding of the New Left, and have been the subject of continuing controversy. Partly because of their rise to prominence during the political turmoil of the sixties, and partly because they draw on traditions rarely studied in the Anglo-American world, the works of these authors are often misunderstood.In this book David Held provides a much-needed introduction to, and evaluation of, critical theory. He is concerned mainly with the thought of the Frankfurt school—Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, in particular—and with Habermas, one of Europe's leading contemporary thinkers. Several of the major themes considered are critical theory's relation to Marx's critique of the political economy, Freudian psychoanalysis, aesthetics, and the philosophy of history. There is also a discussion of critical theory's substantive contribution to the analysis of capitalism, culture, the family, and the individual, as well as its contribution to epistemology and methodology.Held's book will be necessary reading for all concerned with understanding and evaluating one of the most influential intellectual movements of our time.

Democracy in What State?


Giorgio AgambenWilliam McCuaig - 2009
    Giorgio Agamben traces the tense history of constitutions and their coexistence with various governments. Alain Badiou contrasts current democratic practice with democratic communism. Daniel Bensaid ponders the institutionalization of democracy, while Wendy Brown discusses the democratization of society under neoliberalism. Jean-Luc Nancy measures the difference between democracy as a form of rule and as a human end, and Jacques Ranci're highlights its egalitarian nature. Kristin Ross identifies hierarchical relationships within democratic practice, and Slavoj Zizek complicates the distinction between those who desire to own the state and those who wish to do without it.Concentrating on the classical roots of democracy and its changing meaning over time and within different contexts, these essays uniquely defend what is left of the left-wing tradition after the fall of Soviet communism. They confront disincentives to active democratic participation that have caused voter turnout to decline in western countries, and they address electoral indifference by invoking and reviving the tradition of citizen involvement. Passionately written and theoretically rich, this collection speaks to all facets of modern political and democratic debate.

For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign


Jean Baudrillard - 1972
    As with artistic, intellectual, and scientific production, culture is immediately produced as sign and as exchange value. Hence, in modern society consumption defines the stages where the commodity is immediately produced as sign, and signs as commodities. This collection of essays attempts an analysis of the sign form in the same way that Marx's critique of political economy sought an analysis of the commodity form: as the commodity is at the same time both exchange value and use value, the sign is both signifier and signified. Thus, it necessitates an analysis on two levels, with the author confronting all of the conceptual obstacles of semiology in order to provide the same radical critique that Marx developed of classical political economy.

The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism


Steven Shaviro - 2014
    Now Steven Shaviro maps this quickly emerging speculative realism, which is already dramatically influencing how we interpret reality and our place in a universe in which humans are not the measure of all things.The Universe of Things explores the common insistence of speculative realism on a noncorrelationist thought: that things or objects exist apart from how our own human minds relate to and comprehend them. Shaviro focuses on how Whitehead both anticipates and offers challenges to prevailing speculative realist thought, moving between Whitehead’s own panpsychism, Harman’s object-oriented ontology, and the reductionist eliminativism of Quentin Meillassoux and Ray Brassier.The stakes of this recent speculative realist thought—of the effort to develop new ways of grasping the world—are enormous as it becomes clear that our inherited assumptions are no longer adequate to describe, much less understand, the reality we experience around us. As Shaviro acknowledges, speculative realist thought has its dangers, but it also, like the best speculative fiction, holds the potential to liberate us from confining views of what is outside ourselves and, he believes, to reclaim aesthetics and beauty as a principle of life itself.Bringing together a wide array of contemporary thought, and evenhandedly assessing its current debates, The Universe of Things is an invaluable guide to the evolution of speculative realism and the provocation of Alfred North Whitehead’s pathbreaking work.

The Second Body


Daisy Hildyard - 2017
    To be an animal is to be in the possession of a physical body, a body which can eat, drink and sleep; it is also to be integrated within a local ecosystem which overlaps with ecosystems which are larger and further away. To be a living thing is to exist in two bodies. You breathe something in, and what you breathe out is something else. Your first body is the place you live in, made out of your own personal skin. Your second body is not so solid as the other one, but much larger. This second body is your own literal and physical biological existence - it is a version of you. It is not a concept, it is your own body. The language we have at the moment is weak: we might speak vaguely of global connections; of the emission and circulation of gases; of impacts.And yet, at some microscopic or intangible scale, bodies are breaking into one another. The concept of a global impact is not working for us, and in the meantime, your body has already eaten the distance. Your first body could be sitting alone in a church in the centre of Marseille, but your second body is floating above a pharmaceutical plant on the outskirts of the city, it is inside a freight container in the docks, and it is also thousands of miles away, on a flood plain in Bangladesh, in another man's lungs. every animal body implicated in the whole world. Even the patient who is anaesthetized on an operating table, barely breathing, is illuminated by surgeon's lamps which are powered with electricity trailed from a plant which is pumping out of its chimneys a white smoke that spreads itself out against the sky. It is understandably difficult to remember that you have anything to do with this second body - your first body is the body you inhabit in your daily life. However, you are alive in both. You have two bodies.In this timely and elegant essay, Daisy Hildyard attempts to capture the second body by looking at it as a part of animal life. She meets Richard, a butcher in Yorkshire, and sees pigs turned into boiled ham; and Gina, an environmental criminologist, who tells her about leopards and silver foxes kept as pets in luxury apartments. She speaks to Luis, a biologist, about the origins of life; and talks to Nadezhda about fungi in an effort to understand how we define animal life. In her own interactions with other animals, she examines how humans and animals engage with one another, or fail to. Eventually, her second body comes to visit her first body when the river flooded her home last year. The Second Body is a brilliantly lucid account of the dissolving boundaries between all life on earth.

Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire


Wendy Brown - 2006
    Emerging in early modern Europe to defuse violent religious conflict and reduce persecution, tolerance today is hailed as a key to decreasing conflict across a wide range of other dividing lines-- cultural, racial, ethnic, and sexual. But, as political theorist Wendy Brown argues in Regulating Aversion, tolerance also has dark and troubling undercurrents. Dislike, disapproval, and regulation lurk at the heart of tolerance. To tolerate is not to affirm but to conditionally allow what is unwanted or deviant. And, although presented as an alternative to violence, tolerance can play a part in justifying violence--dramatically so in the war in Iraq and the War on Terror. Wielded, especially since 9/11, as a way of distinguishing a civilized West from a barbaric Islam, tolerance is paradoxically underwriting Western imperialism. Brown's analysis of the history and contemporary life of tolerance reveals it in a startlingly unfamiliar guise. Heavy with norms and consolidating the dominance of the powerful, tolerance sustains the abjection of the tolerated and equates the intolerant with the barbaric. Examining the operation of tolerance in contexts as different as the War on Terror, campaigns for gay rights, and the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance, Brown traces the operation of tolerance in contemporary struggles over identity, citizenship, and civilization.