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Philosophy Today

Volume 64, Issue 1, Winter 2020
Marxism and New Materialism

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special topic: marxism and new materialisms
1. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Jeta Mulaj Introduction
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2. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Adrian Johnston The Triumph of Theological Economics: God Goes Underground
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Both Marx and Freud are children of the Enlightenment in certain manners. As such, they each display a qualified but firm optimism about history inevitably making progress in specific desirable directions. Freud predicts that continuing scientific and technological advances eventually will drive religiosity from human societies once and for all. Marx likewise forecasts the withering away of religions. Moreover, he treats this predicted process as symptomatic of even more fundamental socioeconomic developments, namely, his (in)famous anticipations of subsequent transitions to socialism and communism. However, the past century of human history has not been kind to any sort of Enlightenment-style progress narratives. My intervention on this occasion takes inspiration especially from Lacan’s reckoning with a “triumph of religion” defying Freud’s expectations of relentlessly broadening and deepening secularization. I argue that socio-political phenomena of the past several decades bear witness to religious superstructures having infused themselves into economic infrastructures.
3. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Duy Lap Nguyen Universal History and Immanent Critique in Anti-Oedipus
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This essay considers Deleuze and Guattari’s paradoxical claim that Marx’s critique of political economy implies as a universal history derived from the singular features of capitalism. In this critique, capitalism is defined by the commodity form, as a relationship of economic equivalence that replaces the bonds of dependence underlying other social formations. By negating relations of kinship and caste, capitalism reveals, a contrario, the universal foundation of other societies. As the “negative of all social formations,” capitalism conditions a universal history, defined, retrospectively, from the singular standpoint of a society, based upon the negation of kinship and caste. In this universal history, moreover, the negation of capitalism is identified with the possibility of a new and equally singular form of society. In Anti-Oedipus, the latter is defined as a “schizophrenic” condition liberated from the commodity as well as from the bonds of dependence that constituted the universal foundation of earlier societies.
4. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Jason Read Conscious Organs: Towards a Political Anthropology of Labor Power
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In Volume Three of Capital in a striking but somewhat uncharacteristic formula, Marx argues that the labor relation is the “hidden basis” of the entire social edifice including the state and politics. As an attempt to clarify and develop this insight I examine the dual nature of labor as abstract and concrete labor, arguing that the two sides of labor correspond not just to two sides of the commodity, but to different ethics and alienations of labor, and ultimately to different philosophical anthropologies.
5. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Jennifer Ponce de León, Gabriel Rockhill Towards a Compositional Model of Ideology: Materialism, Aesthetics, and Cultural Revolution
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This article sets forth a compositional model of ideology by drawing on the tradition of historical materialism and further developing its insights into the aesthetic composition of reality. It demonstrates how ideology is not simply a set of false beliefs but is rather the process by which social agents are composed over time in every dimension of their existence, including their thoughts, practices, perceptions, representations, values, affects, desires, and unconscious drives. By working through a number of diverse debates and authors—ranging from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to Louis Althusser, Eduardo Galeano, Rosaura Sánchez, and Paulo Freire—it thereby elucidates how ideology is best understood as an aesthetic process that includes aspect of sense and sense-making, and that therefore requires a collective, cultural revolution as its antidote.
articles
6. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Dominik Finkelde Anamorphosis and Subjectivity in the Space of Reasons: On the Diffraction Laws of Consciousness and Reality in Hegel and Lacan
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Jacques Lacan comments repeatedly on anamorphic art as it exemplifies for him how the mind from a certain angle perceives through law-like patterns the world that would otherwise be nothing but a chaos of arbitrary multiplicities. The angle, though, has a certain effect on what is perceived; an effect that, as such, cannot be perceived within the realm of experience. The article tries to make the link between diffraction laws of perception more explicit in the subject-object dichotomy and refers for that purpose to the work of both Hegel and Lacan. A reference to Hegel is necessary, as Hegel was not only one of Lacan’s own most important sources of insights, but the author who first focused on justified true belief through a theory of a missed encounter between truth and knowledge.
7. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Hans-Georg Eilenberger Freud and Merleau-Ponty on the (Sexual) Experience of the Child
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In this essay, I read Freud and Merleau-Ponty as voices for a more perceptive and nuanced discourse on the child. Their works, I suggest, contain two complementary approaches in this direction. The first approach concerns the structural asymmetry of child and adult. In his early writings, Freud assumes a radical break between the child’s and the adult’s sexualities. Taking seriously this assumption of asymmetry cautions us against the hasty application of adult standards to the child. The second approach concerns what I would call a “thick description” of the child’s lived experience. Merleau-Ponty exemplifies this approach in his lectures on child psychology and the notion of institution, where he develops a concrete, phenomenologically informed account of childhood and puberty.
8. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Ronald McKinney Towards a Post-Postmodern Philosophy of Play
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This essay strives to show the relationship between current efforts to explain the nature of play and the essence of post-postmodernism. The muddied and arduous world of work becomes the site not only for creative play but for post-postmodern solutions to the complex situations we find ourselves in today.
9. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Stefano Bancalari “The Great Burden” of Religion: Jonas on Heidegger’s Ambivalence towards the Jewish-Christian Tradition
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This article aims to reread Jonas’s famous lecture on “Heidegger and Theology” linking it with a still unpublished lecture course on Being and Time Jonas held in 1967 at the New School for Social Research. From the reading of Heidegger’s masterwork, Jonas takes the idea of the “burdensome” character of the existence, which he interprets in terms of a “polarity” between man and his “other” (other men, God, world). Such a polarity is for Jonas the very essence of “religion” (as religamen) and of responsibility. From this vantage point, “Heidegger and Theology,” with its sharp criticism of the theological appropriation of Heidegger’s post-turn philosophy, appears to be a strong defense of the burden of “polarity,” as developed in Being and Time, against its removal by the thought of Being: a Being which is nothing but a mirror image of Dasein. Partially reconsidering his views on Heidegger’s Gnosticism, Jonas turns (the earlier) Heidegger against (the later) Heidegger himself.
10. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Eric Pommier, D. J. S. Cross The Problem of History and the Three Movements of Existence in Patočka on the Basis of an Appropriation of Arendt’s Anthropology
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Jan Patočka holds that both the Husserlian and the Heideggerian descriptions of history remain abstract because they lack an authentic reflection on historical sense’s appearing, which presupposes a description of the transition from the nonhistorical and prehistorical states of humanity to its final historical state. Nevertheless, it seems that Patočka would confront an internal aporia here because, even if he sought to think the continuity of these three movements, he tends to affirm the rupture between them. To overcome that aporia, it becomes necessary to formulate the hypothesis according to which the prehistorical is characterized by a repression of sense’s problematic character, whereas the historical as such is characterized by a conversion of consciousness toward this problematic character. Justifying this hypothesis requires exploring Patočka’s anthropology, confronting it with Arendt’s anthropology, and formulating metaphysical perspectives.
11. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Bryan Lueck Humor, Contempt, and the Exemption from Sense
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Building on the theory of humor advanced by Yves Cusset in his recent book Rire: Tractatus philo-comicus, I argue that we can understand the phenomenon in terms of what Jean-Luc Nancy, following Roland Barthes, has called the exemption from sense. I attempt to show how the humorous sensibility, understood in this way, is entirely incompatible with the experience of others as contemptible. I conclude by developing some of the normative implications of this, focusing specifically on the question as to whether it is ever morally permissible to treat others with contempt.
12. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Norman Schultz The Controversy about Sloterdijk’s "Rules for the Human Zoo": Between Continental-Analytic Philosophy and Tropological Thinking
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The so-called Menschenpark-debate on genetic engineering—originating in 1999—turned out to be one of the most controversial and contentious debates in German philosophy. It is also regarded as the first manifestation of the struggle between Sloterdijk and Habermas. While Sloterdijk’s ideas had a significant impact on Habermas’s theory, Sloterdijk’s philosophy has been consistently ignored and dismissed until today due to two reasons. First, he was accused of advocating for fascist ideology. Second, philosophers from the same academic circles claimed that his method does not meet academic standards. The debate therefore signifies a larger problem that concerns the methodological difference between analytic-Continental philosophies that work on a formal level and Continental philosophies that work with a tropological account experimenting with different non-formal philosophical expressions. I will carve out this distinction with respect to the Menschenpark-debate to argue that Sloterdijk is an integral part of our philosophical historical moment.
13. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Joshua Kerr Spinoza: From Art to Philosophy
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Spinoza has very little to say concerning the creative arts. A careful consideration of those passages in which he discusses art, however, reveals art to have an importance for him that far outstrips what his relative silence might suggest. In this paper, I argue that Spinoza situates art at the genesis of rational, philosophical knowledge. The importance of abstract reason, Spinoza’s “second kind” of knowledge to which most of philosophy belongs, has been well appreciated by scholars. In the Ethics, Spinoza offers a developmental account of this kind of knowledge: reason develops out of the knowledge of sense experience. By tracing his account of this process, I argue that art has an important role to play in the transition from sense experience to philosophical knowledge.
book reviews
14. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Edward S. Casey Fred Evans, Public Art and the Fragility of Democracy: An Essay in Political Aesthetics
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15. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Gregg Lambert Dimitris Vardoulakis, Freedom from Free Will: Kafka and Laughter
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16. Philosophy Today: Volume > 64 > Issue: 1
Benjamin Cherry-Smith Alain Badiou, Plato’s Republic: A Dialogue in Sixteen Chapters, trans. Susan Spitzer
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