We have long since lost our faith in the idea that human beings could achieve human happiness in some future ideal state-a state that Thomas More, writing five centuries ago, tied to a topos, a fixed place, a land, an island, a sovereign state under a wise and benevolent ruler. But while we have lost our faith in utopias of all hues, the human aspiration that made this vision so compelling has not died. Instead it is re-emerging today as a vision focused not on the future but on the past, not on a future-to-be-created but on an abandoned and undead past that we could call retrotopia.
The emergence of retrotopia is interwoven with the deepening gulf between power and politics that is a defining feature of our contemporary liquid-modern world-the gulf between the ability to get things done and the capability of deciding what things need to be done, a capability once vested with the territorially sovereign state. This deepening gulf has rendered nation-states unable to deliver on their promises, giving rise to a widespread disenchantment with the idea that the future will improve the human condition and a mistrust in the ability of nation-states to make this happen. True to the utopian spirit, retrotopia derives its stimulus from the urge to rectify the failings of the present human condition-though now by resurrecting the failed and forgotten potentials of the past. Imagined aspects of the past, genuine or putative, serve as the main landmarks today in drawing the road-map to a better world. Having lost all faith in the idea of building an alternative society of the future, many turn instead to the grand ideas of the past, buried but not yet dead. Such is retrotopia, the contours of which are examined by Zygmunt Bauman in this sharp dissection of our contemporary romance with the past.
Academic, writer, figure of melancholy, aesthete - Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-2009) not only transformed his academic discipline, he also profoundly changed the way that we view ourselves and the world around us.
In this award-winning biography, historian Emmanuelle Loyer recounts Lévi-Strauss's childhood in an assimilated Jewish household, his promising student years as well as his first forays into political and intellectual movements. As a young professor, Lévi-Strauss left Paris in 1935 for São Paulo to teach sociology. His rugged expeditions into the Brazilian hinterland, where he discovered the Amerindian Other, made him into an anthropologist. The racial laws of the Vichy regime would force him to leave France yet again, this time for the USA in 1941, where he became Professor Claude L. Strauss - to avoid confusion with the jeans manufacturer.
Lévi-Strauss's return to France, after the war, ushered in the period during which he produced his greatest works: several decades of intense labour in which he reinvented anthropology, establishing it as a discipline that offered a new view on the world. In 1955, Tristes Tropiques offered indisputable proof of this the world over. During those years, Lévi-Strauss became something of a French national monument, as well as a celebrity intellectual of global renown. But he always claimed his perspective was a `view from afar', enabling him to deliver incisive and subversive diagnoses of our waning modernity.
Loyer's outstanding biography tells the story of a true intellectual adventurer whose unforgettable voice invites us to rethink questions of the human and the meaning of progress. She portrays Lévi-Strauss less as a modern than as our own great and disquieted contemporary.
We are living in an open sea, caught up in a continuous wave, with no fixed point and no instrument to measure distance and the direction of travel. Nothing appears to be in its place any more, and a great deal appears to have no place at all. The principles that have given substance to the democratic ethos, the system of rules that has guided the relationships of authority and the ways in which they are legitimized, the shared values and their hierarchy, our behaviour and our life styles, must be radically revised because they no longer seem suited to our experience and understanding of a world in flux, a world that has become both increasingly interconnected and prone to severe and persistent crises.
We are living in the interregnum between what is no longer and what is not yet. None of the political movements that helped undermine the old world are ready to inherit it, and there is no new ideology, no consistent vision, promising to give shape to new institutions for the new world. It is like the Babylon referred to by Borges, the country of randomness and uncertainty in which `no decision is final; all branch into others'. Out of the world that had promised us modernity, what Jean Paul Sartre had summarized with sublime formula `le choix que je suis' (`the choice that I am'), we inhabit that flattened, mobile and dematerialized space, where as never before the principle of the heterogenesis of purposes is sovereign.
This is Babel.
This biography of Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) tells the story of a Jewish boy from Algiers, excluded from school at the age of twelve, who went on to become the most widely translated French philosopher in the world - a vulnerable, tormented man who, throughout his life, continued to see himself as unwelcome in the French university system. We are plunged into the different worlds in which Derrida lived and worked: pre-independence Algeria, the microcosm of the École Normale Supérieure, the cluster of structuralist thinkers, and the turbulent events of 1968 and after. We meet the remarkable series of leading writers and philosophers with whom Derrida struck up a friendship: Louis Althusser, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean Genet, and Hélène Cixous, among others. We also witness an equally long series of often brutal polemics fought over crucial issues with thinkers such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, John R. Searle, and Jürgen Habermas, as well as several controversies that went far beyond academia, the best known of which concerned Heidegger and Paul de Man. We follow a series of courageous political commitments in support of Nelson Mandela, illegal immigrants, and gay marriage. And we watch as a concept - deconstruction - takes wing and exerts an extraordinary influence way beyond the philosophical world, on literary studies, architecture, law, theology, feminism, queer theory, and postcolonial studies. In writing this compelling and authoritative biography, Benoît Peeters talked to over a hundred individuals who knew and worked with Derrida. He is also the first person to make use of the huge personal archive built up by Derrida throughout his life and of his extensive correspondence. Peeters' book gives us a new and deeper understanding of the man who will perhaps be seen as the major philosopher of the second half of the twentieth century.
Contrary to the common view that globalization undermines social agency, `alter-globalization activists', that is, those who contest globalization in its neo-liberal form, have developed new ways to become actors in the global age. They propose alternatives to Washington Consensus policies, implement horizontal and participatory organization models and promote a nascent global public space. Rather than being anti-globalization, these activists have built a truly global movement that has gathered citizens, committed intellectuals, indigenous, farmers, dalits and NGOs against neoliberal policies in street demonstrations and Social Forums all over the world, from Bangalore to Seattle and from Porto Alegre to Nairobi. This book analyses this worldwide movement on the bases of extensive field research conducted since 1999. Alter-Globalization provides a comprehensive account of these critical global forces and their attempts to answer one of the major challenges of our time: How can citizens and civil society contribute to the building of a fairer, sustainable and more democratic co-existence of human beings in a global world?
'Even the biographical individual is a social category', wrote Adorno. `It can only be defined in a living context together with others.' In this major new biography, Stefan Müller-Doohm turns this maxim back on Adorno himself and provides a rich and comprehensive account of the life and work of one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century. This authoritative biography ranges across the whole of Adorno's life and career, from his childhood and student years to his years in emigration in the United States and his return to postwar Germany. At the same time, Muller-Doohm examines the full range of Adorno's writings on philosophy, sociology, literary theory, music theory and cultural criticism. Drawing on an array of sources from Adorno's personal correspondence with Horkheimer, Benjamin, Berg, Marcuse, Kracauer and Mann to interviews, notes and both published and unpublished writings, Muller-Doohm situates Adorno's contributions in the context of his times and provides a rich and balanced appraisal of his significance in the 20th Century as a whole. Müller-Doohm's clear prose succeeds in making accessible some of the most complex areas of Adorno's thought. This outstanding biography will be the standard work on Adorno for years to come.
Beethoven is a classic study of the composer's music, written by one of the most important thinkers of our time. Throughout his life, Adorno wrote extensive notes, essay fragments and aides-memoires on the subject of Beethoven's music. This book brings together all of Beethoven's music in relation to the society in which he lived.
Adorno identifies three periods in Beethoven's work, arguing that the thematic unity of the first and second periods begins to break down in the third. Adorno follows this progressive disintegration of organic unity in the classical music of Beethoven and his contemporaries, linking it with the rationality and monopolistic nature of modern society.
Beethoven will be welcomed by students and researchers in a wide range of disciplines - philosophy, sociology, music and history - and by anyone interested in the life of the composer.
The planet is sick. Human beings are guilty of damaging it. We have to pay. Today, that is the orthodoxy throughout the Western world. Distrust of progress and science, calls for individual and collective self-sacrifice to `save the planet' and cultivation of fear: behind the carbon commissars, a dangerous and counterproductive ecological catastrophism is gaining ground.
Modern society's susceptibility to this kind of thinking derives from what Bruckner calls "the seductive attraction of disaster," as exemplified by the popular appeal of disaster movies. But ecological catastrophism is harmful in that it draws attention away from other, more solvable problems and injustices in the world in order to focus on something that is portrayed as an Apocalypse.
Rather than preaching catastrophe and pessimism, we need to develop a democratic and generous ecology that addresses specific problems in a practical way.
Roland Barthes (1915-1980) was a central figure in the thought of his time, but he was also something of an outsider. His father died in the First World War, he enjoyed his mother's unfailing love, he spent long years in the sanatorium, and he was aware of his homosexuality from an early age: all this soon gave him a sense of his own difference. He experienced the great events of contemporary history from a distance. However, his life was caught up in the violent, intense sweep of the twentieth century, a century that he helped to make intelligible. This major new biography of Barthes, based on unpublished material never before explored (archives, journals and notebooks), sheds new light on his intellectual positions, his political commitments and his ideas, beliefs and desires. It details the many themes he discussed, the authors he defended, the myths he castigated, the polemics that made him famous and his acute ear for the languages of his day. It also underscores his remarkable ability to see which way the wind was blowing Ð and he is still a compelling author to read in part because his path-breaking explorations uncovered themes that continue to preoccupy us today. Barthes's life story gives substance and cohesion to his career, which was guided by desire, perspicacity and an extreme sensitivity to the material from which the world is shaped Ð as well as a powerful refusal to accept any authoritarian discourse. By allowing thought to be based on imagination, he turned thinking into both an art and an adventure. This remarkable biography enables the reader to enter into Barthes's life and grasp the shape of his existence, and thus understand the kind of writer he became and how he turned literature into life itself.
Humans have become so powerful that we have disrupted the functioning of the Earth System as a whole, bringing on a new geological epoch - the Anthropocene - one in which the serene and clement conditions that allowed civilisation to flourish are disappearing and we quail before 'the wakened giant'. The emergence of a conscious creature capable of using technology to bring about a rupture in the Earth's geochronology is an event of monumental significance, on a par with the arrival of civilisation itself. What does it mean to have arrived at this point, where human history and Earth history collide? Some interpret the Anthropocene as no more than a development of what they already know, obscuring and deflating its profound significance. But the Anthropocene demands that we rethink everything. The modern belief in the free, reflexive being making its own future by taking control of its environment - even to the point of geoengineering - is now impossible because we have rendered the Earth more unpredictable and less controllable, a disobedient planet. At the same time, all attempts by progressives to cut humans down to size by attacking anthropocentrism come up against the insurmountable fact that human beings now possess enough power to change the Earth's course. It's too late to turn back the geological clock, and there is no going back to premodern ways of thinking. We must face the fact that humans are at the centre of the world, even if we must give the idea that we can control the planet. These truths call for a new kind of anthropocentrism, a philosophy by which we might use our power responsibly and find a way to live on a defiant Earth.
The election of an unabashedly patriarchal man as US President was a shock for many-despite decades of activism on gender inequalities and equal rights, how could it come to this? What is it about patriarchy that seems to make it so resilient and resistant to change? Undoubtedly it endures in part because some people benefit from the unequal advantages it confers. But is that enough to explain its stubborn persistence?
In this highly original and persuasively argued book, Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider put forward a different view: they argue that patriarchy persists because it serves a psychological function. By requiring us to sacrifice love for the sake of hierarchy, patriarchy protects us from the vulnerability of loving and becomes a defense against loss. Uncovering the powerful psychological mechanisms that underpin patriarchy, the authors show how forces beyond our awareness may be driving a politics that otherwise seems inexplicable.
In the last two decades, both the conception and the practice of participatory culture have been transformed by the new affordances enabled by digital, networked, and mobile technologies. This exciting new book explores that transformation by bringing together three leading figures in conversation. Jenkins, Ito and boyd examine the ways in which our personal and professional lives are shaped by experiences interacting with and around emerging media.
Stressing the social and cultural contexts of participation, the authors describe the process of diversification and mainstreaming that has transformed participatory culture. They advocate a move beyond individualized personal expression and argue for an ethos of "doing it together" in addition to "doing it yourself."
Participatory Culture in a Networked Era will interest students and scholars of digital media and their impact on society and will engage readers in a broader dialogue and conversation about their own participatory practices in this digital age.
The concept of well-being plays a central role in moral and political theory. Policies and actions are justified or criticized on the grounds that they make people better or worse off. But is there really such a thing as well-being, and if so, what is it? Is it pleasure, desire-satisfaction, knowledge, virtue, achievement, some combination of these, or something else entirely? How can we measure well-being, amongst individuals and society? And how can we use it to make moral judgements about people, policies and institutions? In this entertaining and accessible new book, Ben Bradley guides readers through the various philosophical theories of well-being, such as hedonism, perfectionism and pluralism, showing the benefits and drawbacks of each theory. He explores the role of well-being in moral and political theory, and the limitations of welfare-based approaches to ethics such as utilitarianism and welfare egalitarianism. Finally, he introduces puzzles about well-being that arise in moral and prudential deliberations about procreation and death. Well-Being is an ideal introduction to these topics for those with no philosophical background, or for philosophers looking for an overview of current thinking about the subject.
What is it that leaves us shell shocked in the face of the massacres carried out in New York on 9/11 or in Paris on 13 November 2015? How are we to explain the intensity of the reaction to the attacks on Charlie Hebdo? Answering these questions involves trying to understand what a society goes through when it is subjected to the ordeal of terrorist attacks. And it impels us to try to explain why millions of people feel so concerned and shaken by them, even when they do not have a direct connection with any of the victims.
In Shell Shocked, sociologist Gérôme Truc sheds new light on these events, returning to the ways in which ordinary individuals lived through and responded to the attacks of 9/11, of 11 March 2004 in Madrid and 7 July 2005 in London. Analysing political language and media images, demonstrations of solidarity and minutes of silence, as well as the tens of thousands of messages addressed to the victims, his investigation brings about the complexity of our feelings about the Islamists' attacks. It also uncovers the sources of the solidarity that, in our individualistic societies, ultimately finds expression in the first person singular rather than the first person plural: 'I am Charlie', 'I am Paris.'
This timely and path-breaking book will appeal to students and scholars in sociology and politics and to anyone interested in understanding the impact of terrorism in contemporary societies.
In what ways are cities central to the evolution of contemporary global capitalism? And in what ways is global capitalism forged by the urban experience? This book provides a response to these questions, exploring the multifaceted dimensions of the city-capitalism nexus.
Drawing on a wide range of conceptual approaches, including political economy, neo-institutionalism and radical political theory, this insightful book examines the complex relationships between contemporary capitalist cities and key forces of our times, such as globalization and neoliberalism. Taking a truly global perspective, Ugo Rossi offers a comparative analysis of the ways in which urban economies and societies reflect and at the same time act as engines of global capitalism.
Ultimately, this book shows how over the past three decades capitalism has shifted a gear - no longer merely incorporating key aspects of society into its system, but encompassing everything, including life itself - and illustrates how cities play a central role within this life-oriented construction of global capitalism.
Ötzi the iceman could not do without wood when he was climbing his Alpine glacier, nor could medieval cathedral-builders or today's construction companies. From time immemorial, the skill of the human hand has developed by working wood, so much so that we might say that the handling of wood is a basic element in the history of the human body. The fear of a future wood famine became a panic in the 18th century and sparked the beginnings of modern environmentalism. This book traces the cultural history of wood and offers a highly original account of the connection between the raw material and the human beings who benefit from it. Even more, it shows that wood can provide a key for a better understanding of history, of the pecularities as well as the varieties of cultures, of a co-evolution of nature and culture, and even of the rise and fall of great powers. Beginning with Stone Age hunters, it follows the twists and turns of the story through the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution to the global society of the twenty-first century, in which wood is undergoing a varied and unexpected renaissance. Radkau is sceptical of claims that wood is about to disappear, arguing that such claims are self-serving arguments promoted by interest groups to secure cheaper access to, and control over, wood resources. The whole forest and timber industry often strikes the outsider as a world unto itself, a hermetically sealed black box, but when we lift the lid on this box, as Radkau does here, we will be surprised by what we find within. Wide-ranging and accessible, this rich historical analysis of one of our most cherished natural resources will find a wide readership.
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.
What would happen if we could stroll through the revolutionary history of the 20th century and, without any fear of the possible responses, ask the main protagonists - from Lenin to Che Guevara, from Alexandra Kollontai to Ulrike Meinhof - seemingly naïve questions about love? Although all important political and social changes of the 20th century included heated debates on the role of love, it seems that in the 21st century of new technologies of the self (Grindr, Tinder, online dating, etc.) we are faced with a hyperinflation of sex, not love. By going back to the sexual revolution of the October Revolution and its subsequent repression, to Che's dilemma between love and revolutionary commitment and to the period of '68 (from communes to terrorism) and its commodification in late capitalism, the Croatian philosopher Srecko Horvat gives a possible answer to the question of why it is that the most radical revolutionaries like Lenin or Che were scared of the radicality of love. What is so radical about a seemingly conservative notion of love and why is it anything but conservative? This short book is a modest contribution to the current upheavals around the world - from Tahrir to Taksim, from Occupy Wall Street to Hong Kong, from Athens to Sarajevo - in which the question of love is curiously, surprisingly, absent.
"Dreams are as black as death."
-Theodor W. Adorno
Adorno was fascinated by his dreams and wrote them down throughout his life. He envisaged publishing a collection of them although in the event no more than a few appeared in his lifetime. Dream Notes offers a selection of Adornos writings on dreams that span the last twenty-five years of his life. Readers of Adorno who are accustomed to high-powered reflections on philosophy, music and culture may well find them disconcerting: they provide an amazingly frank and uninhibited account of his inner desires, guilt feelings and anxieties. Brothel scenes, torture and executions figure prominently. They are presented straightforwardly, at face value. No attempt is made to interpret them, to relate them to the events of his life, to psychoanalyse them, or to establish any connections with the principal themes of his philosophy. Are they fiction, autobiography or an attempt to capture a pre-rational, quasi-mythic state of consciousness? No clear answer can be given. Taken together they provide a highly consistent picture of a dimension of experience that is normally ignored, one that rounds out and deepens our knowledge of Adorno while retaining something of the enigmatic quality that energized his own thought.
Written in a readable, accessible style, with plenty of up-to-date examples Psychoanalysis and Culture provides a brilliant introduction to key issues in the area of application of psychoanalytic theories to culture. The author argues that we cannot grasp the complexity of contemporary global issues without understanding some of the unconscious processes which underlie them. After introducing some major modern and postmodern psychoanalytic approaches, Minsky offers a broad-ranging critique of Lacan's theory of culture and the unconscious. She explores a range of crucial and topical questions: how should we explain women's historical subordination and what is now often seen as a crisis in male identity? What constitutes 'masculinity' apart from power and control? How important is the father, actually and symbolically in children's development in the context of lone-parent families? Why is contemporary culture often still so violent and destructive? Why is consumer culture so attractive to so many and why is it so difficult to put limits on economic growth in the interests of preventing environmental disaster?
This book will be of great interest to students and scholars in sociology, women's studies, cultural studies, psychology and history as well as psychoanalytic studies. It will also appeal to the general reader interested in the psychology of cultural change.
Terrorism has emerged as one of the most problematic issues facing national governments and the international community in the 21st century. But how is it possible to counter terrorism in a world in which governance is still dominated by the nation-state? Are we seeing new forms of terrorist activity in the wake of 9/11? Are pre-9/11 approaches still valid? How can we combat and control diverse threats of multiple origin? Who should be responsible for countering terrorism and in what circumstances? In this incisive new book, Ronald Crelinsten seeks to provide answers to these pressing questions, challenging readers to think beyond disciplinary and jurisdictional boundaries. He presents an up-to-date and comprehensive introduction to the difficulties and obstacles related to countering terrorism in democratic societies. The counterterrorism framework that he develops in this book reflects the complex world in which we live. The different approaches to counterterrorism provide the organizing theme of the book and help the reader to understand and to appreciate the full range of options available. The book:
includes a host of contemporary examples and further readings;
compares and contrasts pre- and post-9/11 approaches;
critically evaluates the post-9/11 `war on terror';
moves beyond a purely state-centric focus to include non-state actors and institutions;
combines hard and soft power approaches;
considers prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. Counterterrorism will be an indispensible guide for students, researchers, practitioners and general readers wanting to broaden their knowledge of the possibilities and limitations of counterterrorism today.
We make decisions every day. Yet we are sometimes perplexed by these decisions and the decisions of others. To complicate things further, we live in an age where there are more things to choose from than ever before - the Internet is transforming our choices and making us more accountable for them: what we choose is recorded, modelled and used to predict our future behaviour. So are we in a position to make better choices today than we were a decade ago? Certainly there are some who believe so. Psychologists claim we are subject to hidden mental processes that lead us to one thing rather than another; economists offer predictions about what people will buy; and some philosophers claim that our choices echo our evolutionary past. Are these claims merited? Do they reflect the beginnings of a new science of choice? This book offers a critical overview of these and other claims, showing where they are justified and where they are exaggerated. It will be an essential reference for anyone interested in whether science can help us to understand both the ways people make choices in their everyday lives and how these may be changing.
Jerusalem has for centuries been known as the spiritual center for the three largest monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Yet Jerusalem's other-worldly transcendence is far from the daily reality of Jerusalem, a city bombarded by conflict. The battle over who owns and controls Jerusalem is intensely disputed on a global basis. Few cities rival Jerusalem in how its divisions are expressed in the political sphere and in ordinary everyday life.
Jerusalem: The Spatial Politics of a Divided Metropolis is about this constellation of competing on-the-ground interests: the endless set of claims, struggles, and debates over the land, neighborhoods, and communities that make up Jerusalem. Spatial politics explain the motivations and organizing around the battle for Jerusalem and illustrate how space is a weapon in the Jerusalem struggle. These are the windows to the world of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Based on ninety interviews, years of fieldwork, and numerous Jerusalem experiences, this book depicts the groups living in Jerusalem, their roles in the conflict, and their connections to Jerusalem's development. Written for students, scholars, and those seeking to demystify the Jerusalem labyrinth, this book shows how religion, ideology, nationalism, and power underlie patterns of urban development, inequality, and conflict.