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Many recent commentators have noticed how Adorno, in his late works, borrows Kant’s definition of enlightenment to define key areas of his own critical practice. These discussions, however, have failed to notice how these late borrowings present an image of Kant’s enlightenment which is diametrically opposed to his previous discussions. By tracing the development of Adorno’s engagement with Kant’s essay, I discover Adorno deliberately sublating Kant’s definition as to enable its incorporation into his own works. Further, the article will examine some problems which appear to arise for Adorno when borrowing Kant’s definition of enlightenment in his late works, which coalesce around the topics of negativism and the prospects for societal change.
This short final chapter summarises the main arguments of the book with a particular emphasis on the law’s indeterminacy and its relation to structural bias. The author argues that apart from evidencing the law’s total openness, the constant oscillation of ‘civilisation’ between ‘improvement’ and ‘biology’ in fact evidences its links to the contradictions of global capitalism. As a consequence, the structured indeterminacy of ‘civilisation’ can be useful to actors who accept the basic desirability of capitalism, but it can be profoundly damaging to radical projects.
Chapter 7 analyzes the Appendix to the Transcendental Analytic entitled “On the Amphiboly of the Concepts of Reflection.” Using Leibniz’s monadology as a prism, Kant here seeks to account for the ultimate premises of his critique and intended reform of metaphysics. More specifically, the chapter conceives of this critique as a variety of transcendental reflection that is guided by four pairs of concepts, including sameness and difference. In order to contextualize this account, the chapter briefly discusses Wolff’s and Baumgarten’s treatment of these concepts. Commentators generally assume that the activity called transcendental reflection is carried out in the Critique of Pure Reason alone. The chapter argues, by contrast, that Kant distinguishes the version of transcendental reflection that informs the ontology of his predecessors from the critical version enacted in the Critique. On this basis, it outlines Kant’s understanding of the difference between a Leibnizian employment of the concepts of reflection and his own.
The second chapter seeks to clarify how Kant in the late 1760s and early 1770s came to conceive of the aim and main arguments of what was to become the Critique of Pure Reason. It focuses in particular on Kant’s evolving understanding of the act of critique. The heart of the chapter consists in an analysis of the Inaugural Dissertation. Challenging the prevailing view, the chapter highlights the critical impetus of the treatise by arguing that the specific criterion it employs to curb the ambitions of metaphysics – intellectual purity – is directed against an assumption common to Wolff, Crusius, and early post-Leibnizian philosophy in general. Moreover, it puts into perspective the alleged break between the Dissertation and the Critique by arguing that this early instance of critique is preserved in the Critique of Pure Reason. The chapter argues that Kant in this work introduces a new form of critique by arguing that any a priori cognition of objects necessarily rests on pure intuition.
Scholarly debates on the Critique of Pure Reason have largely been shaped by epistemological questions. Challenging this prevailing trend, Kant's Reform of Metaphysics is the first book-length study to interpret Kant's Critique in view of his efforts to turn Christian Wolff's highly influential metaphysics into a science. Karin de Boer situates Kant's pivotal work in the context of eighteenth-century German philosophy, traces the development of Kant's conception of critique, and offers fresh and in-depth analyses of key parts of the Critique of Pure Reason, including the Transcendental Deduction, the Schematism Chapter, the Appendix to the Transcendental Analytic, and the Architectonic. The book not only brings out the coherence of Kant's project, but also reconstructs the outline of the 'system of pure reason' for which the Critique was to pave the way, but that never saw the light.
After providing a brief overview of Marcus Willaschek's Kant on the Sources of Metaphysics, I critically reconstruct his account of ‘transcendental realism’ and the role that it plays in the dramatic narrative of the Critique of Pure Reason. I then lay out in detail how Willaschek generates and evaluates various versions of transcendental realism and raise some concerns about each. Next, I look at precisely how Willaschek's Kant thinks we can avoid applying the ‘supreme’ dialectical principle (for every conditioned there is a totality of conditions which is unconditioned) to the domain of appearances. Finally, I call into question Willaschek's efforts to appropriate the lessons of the Transcendental Dialectic without following Kant into transcendental idealism.
Most studies on violence in the Hebrew Bible focus on the question of how modern readers should approach the problem. But they fail to ask how the Hebrew Bible thinks about that problem in the first place. In this work, Matthew J. Lynch examines four key ways that writers of the Hebrew Bible conceptualize and critique acts of violence: violence as an ecological problem; violence as a moral problem; violence as a judicial problem; violence as a purity problem. These four 'grammars of violence' help us interpret crucial biblical texts where violence plays a lead role, like Genesis 4-9. Lynch's volume also offers readers ways to examine cultural continuity and the distinctiveness of biblical conceptions of violence.
In her response to the forum on Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary (Duke University Press, 2017), author Pooja Rangan takes up a range of issues that emerge in responses to her book by Rey Chow, Lucas Hilderbrand, Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan, and Naomi Waltham-Smith. Rangan’s response revolves around the question: Has reflexivity become untimely? What is the role of reflexive critique in a time of existential crisis? In answering this question, Rangan argues that alongside a “non-naive commitment to a notion of the truth” (a topic that emerges in several of the responses as well as in recent literature on documentary), documentary scholars must pursue a radically uncynical commitment to reflexivity. Redefining reflexivity as a form of “restoration work” (Eli Clare) or “wake work” (Christina Sharpe), Rangan traces the shared investments of documentary critique and contemporary analyses of disability and Black existence.
Shortly after emerging in the 1980s, critical gerontology became a recognised part of mainstream gerontology. Under the umbrella of ‘critical gerontology’ sits a number of orientations that draw attention to how ageing is socially located, while foregrounding the importance of values in ageing research. Nevertheless, as critical gerontology is not a clearly defined field or orientation, inconsistencies in the use of ‘critique’ among critical gerontologists has been fermenting internal tensions. In this paper we draw on recent debates on critique as a form of discourse that aims to criticise a deficient social order with the aim of helping to bring about a good society, to identify four discourses of critique. These include the discourses of immanent critique and of transcendent critique, critique that focuses on tensions between these two, and critique that builds on constructive combinations of immanence and transcendence. We add to these an extra level of depth by distinguishing how critical discourse is applied in each case. We use this framework to identify the discourses of critique deployed in variants of critical gerontology. Here, we distinguish political economic, lifecourse, humanistic and culturalist approaches within critical gerontology and assess how each of these applies a discourse of critique. We find that these gerontological perspectives draw on a variety of discourses of critique and make use of varying degrees of engagement with critical discourse. The paper concludes by discussing how critical gerontology may develop as a reflective forum commenting on and integrating insights offered by its own varieties of critique and connecting these with macro-social analyses.
Post-truth politics poses a specific problem for critical theories. The problem is that the relativisation of facts – the claim that knowledge is merely a product of power, history, and perspective – is a core aspect of present-day ideological thinking. Critical theories have been unable to respond to this challenge, because their critique has been directed against the opposite claim, namely the naturalisation of facts. While acknowledging this problem, this article argues that post-truth discourse actually combines relativisation and naturalisation. It does not simply relativise truth, but also naturalises the belief in specific ‘facts’ – notably the belief that ‘conspiracies are behind it all’. Once we recognise the twin character of post-truth, we must reject the view of Bruno Latour and others who have made critique responsible for the crisis. Instead, it then becomes apparent that there are deep and disconcerting similarities between post-truth politics and the totalitarian and authoritarian ideologies of the twentieth century. The task of critique is to confront and counter this resurgent ideology, thereby providing direction and orientation in the struggle for emancipation.
Max Weber’s famous caution about religion can also be said of one of its major traditions, Christianity. Given its symbiotic relationship to secularism and the difficulty of stating definitively what practices and ethics are essentially “Christian” versus non-Christian in the modern west, how and why should we investigate tensions in Christian ethics about violence, alterity, and justice?
The period since 1980, one of intense social change in Ireland, has witnessed manifold scholarly and intellectual breakthroughs, a weighty library of historiography, and a fluorescence of cultural criticism that has greatly enriched our understanding of Ireland and the Irish story. Yet despite its scholarly and intellectual achievements, there are besetting contradictions and conflicts in the field that we call ‘Irish studies’. Irish studies has a national focus, but an inextricably international institutional ecology. This essay charts the story of Irish studies alert to these contradictions. It examines how and where it developed as a scholarly field, how it responded to internal and external pressures, including the Troubles. It considers how Irish studies negotiated academic frames such as postcolonialism, feminism, and cultural theory and, relatedly, the lasting impact of revisionist-nationalist debates. It analyses how consensus and debate formed what Irish studies covered and, as importantly, what it did not. It concludes by considering the impact of the transnational turn on Irish studies in the twenty-first century.
The conclusion of the book is used by Yadgar to retrace three main themes, some of which are more prominent in the text itself than others, but which all flow throughout the text: First, a coherent, flowing summation of his argument regarding Israel’s Jewish identity crisis, its origins in Zionism and its hold over the very soul of the Israeli polity. Here, Yadgar utilizes an utterly amazing report to the Israeli government, where a “Judaising” initiative by the state, driven by the same racial logic of Jewish identity defined by “blood,” would reshape world Jewry as a whole. Second, Yadgar goes again “beyond the Israeli case” to consider how this case reflects upon the larger questions of modern nation-states, liberalism, and democracy. He argues that the Israeli case should in effect be counted as but one instance of a series of histories (some contemporary) of the tensions lying at the very basis of liberalism and nation-statism. And thirdly, Yadgar offers what I take to be a promulgation, or introduction, to what must be a separate project emanating from this book: the idea of a Jewish critique of the politics of the state of Israel, and a comprehensive, systematic formulation of the meaning of Jewish politics that is not forced into the framework of the modern European nation-state.
Taking its cue from Raymond Federman’s programmatically titled essay “The Last Stand of Literature,” the chapter briefly reviews the critical debate about the increasing convergence of literary and television culture. Rather than seeing the influx of TV aesthetics into American literature as causing a demise of literary culture, the chapter argues that the texts by Coover, Wallace, and DeLillo imaginatively reframe TV culture and turn the reflection on visual media into a source of literary innovation. They acknowledge TV as a central force in postmodern culture, rework televisual immediacy effects, and describe TV images and their reception, but they do so in self-reflexive narratives that probe the contributions literature can make to a culture shaped by TV and the commodification of art and experience.
In recent years, much scholarship has revealed how archives and archival artefacts mediate processes of knowledge extraction, production, and representation. Yet, there remains a certain assumption of the archive's transparent availability as a given location for disciplinary work. This essay asks how less visible forms of mediation organize the critical conceptualization and experience of archival inquiry. It examines these conceptual questions through a focus on the 1971 JVP (Janata Vimukti Peramuna—People's Liberation Front) insurgency, a pivotal but now neglected event in Sri Lanka's political history. I explore how an authoritative monograph on the insurrection and its archive have mediated its problematization and enabled its nationalist recuperation. I ascertain the political stakes of returning to the event by locating the supervening context for my own interest in the insurgency, a discursive archive of the disciplinary conceptualization of Sri Lankan political modernity, its characteristic preoccupations, and their effects. I suggest that the event of 1971 offers a locus from which to examine a normative narrative that this archive yields. Recounting how these stakes animated my experience of the liberal archive, the paper's final section asks how different forms of archive implicate distinctive ethical practices and subjects of reading. I pursue this question through the representation and reading of 1971 within what I term the JVP's own pedagogical “archive.” I conclude by reviving a postcolonial concern with the critical stakes of disciplinary investigation and suggest a different approach to the problem of “ethnicized” postcolonial modernities.
Jonathan Z. Smith's essay “Religion, Religions, Religious” discovers the invention of religion as a generic term in colonial adventure. The move is notable: religion is born in violence, but it can be repurposed as a term without determinate content by which to compare cases. Smith's origin story is to empower scholars to pick up “religion” as they do the terms “language” and “culture.” There are reasons, however, not only to revisit the story but also to ask whether it is not missing a move—whether the reclamation of a violent term requires more from the scholar than Smith's structuralist reversal, his reinvention of colonialist invention. I compare Smith's resourcefulness with the conquistadors to Edward Said's critique of Orientalism. Both thinkers are asking questions of violence, invention, and use. Said more squarely addresses problems of thinking with and beyond guilty concepts. Yet Smith's story is an important counterpoint. Together, these thinkers help the humanities lay ground for a more expansive and self-conscious theoretical future.
This chapter argues that my account of hope offers an alternative to indeterminacy and dogma. Commentators such as John Caputo and Jean-Luc Marion claim that deconstruction and negative theology are incompatible; as they observe, Dionysius affirms Christian commitment while Derrida does not. In my reading, however, deconstruction and negative theology affirm a hope that is identical in kind, though not in content. Although Derrida and Dionysius express different hopes, they both construe hope as a discipline that incorporates self-critique. Through hope, it is possible to affirm particular beliefs and practices while acknowledging that every commitment is radically uncertain.
This chapter argues that, despite its reputation, deconstruction constitutes an ethical practice that preserves the possibility of unpredictable transformation. Theorists such as Rita Felski and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick claim that critique corrodes the capacity to make affirmative judgments in particular contexts. They echo early critics who associate deconstruction with a pure play that precludes responsible rationality. I argue instead that deconstruction constitutes a discipline of openness to the unexpected. On Derrida’s diagnosis, metaphysical certainty aims to assuage the anxiety that arises in an unstable world; his concern is that this buys some comfort while closing the individual to others. In contrast, deconstructive negativity enables another kind of affirmation – uncertain, subject to revision, and sustained by hope.
This chapter undertakes to explore a particular seismic shift in the fields of both thought and perception unfolding during the early part of the Cold War, as governments and publics grappled uneasily with the threat of nuclear war. I focus on the exploration of a particular cinematic event: the global release in late 1959 of the anti-nuclear war dystopian film On the Beach. Directed by the American Stanley Kramer and based on a 1957 novel by the British-Australian Nevil Shute, the film offers an opportunity to revisit and reflect on the tangled intersections between the cultural, legal and geopolitical orientations of this ‘hot’ Cold War moment from a new angle. While in 1959 an international legal architecture governing nuclear testing and nuclear non-proliferation had yet to emerge, the approach taken in this chapter suggests that a re-examination of this kind – that is attentive to the modes of perception (as well as discourse) that are emergent in this moment may be of interest to contemporary legal scholars seeking to make sense of a world in which nuclear threats have not abated, and international law’s role in managing that threat remains in question.