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This chapter moves through three clear stages. First, the initial sections highlight some of the ways that Wittgenstein has been misread by thinkers working in the tradition of continental philosophy and critical theory (including Badiou, Deleuze, and Marcuse); and, exposing some of these misreadings, it makes the case for grasping Wittgenstein not simply a modernist philosopher, but, more specifically, as an exponent of (what the chapter terms) philosophical modernism. Second, the chapter tarries with a number of Wittgenstein’s controversial remarks on the atomic bomb and (what he calls) the “apocalyptic view of the world,” and it brings these remarks into dialogue with the work of a number of other literary and philosophical figures, including Gertrude Stein, Günther Anders, and Theodor Adorno. Third, and finally, although Wittgenstein’s remarks on apocalypse appear in his private, postwar notebooks, they nevertheless provide us with a crucial link to his later philosophy, specifically Philosophical Investigations and this is what I turn to in the last sections of the chapter. In the Investigations, it is not simply the language of the book that we might describe as apocalyptic, but also, and more importantly, the fundamental conception of philosophy that we find therein. This returns us to the view of philosophical modernism previously outlined.
The Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School was a child of total war. In the aftermath of World War I, its founding members sought to understand the new phenomenon of total mobilization, the integration of all aspects of state, society, and economy into a war effort that effectively erased traditional distinctions between war and peace. Their conception of Marxism, and the development of their critiques of mass culture and fascism, were shaped by the outcome of this effort at understanding total warfare. This chapter reconstructs the trajectory of the critical responses to total warfare in the Weimar period by the founders of Critical Theory and their counterparts on the German Right. It reviews core texts by Horkheimer and Adorno to see how their critique of mass culture in the United States and fascist mobilization in Germany are informed by their encounter with total mobilization. In its concluding section, the chapter argues that the power of this critical project came at a steep price: convinced of totalizing nature of modern warfare, critical theorists had few resources to respond to new, lower-intensity armed conflicts characteristic of decolonization struggles.
Looking for orientation, it is worthwhile to reconstruct the intellectual trajectory of Rudolf Wiethölter, a radical legal scholar from the Frankfurt school of critical theory. Wiethölter reacts to the disaster of both current liberal and Marxist legal theories. He has the courage to lay out the blueprint for a constitutional utopia. Two distinct phases are discernible. In the first phase, he develops the program of a material constitution – the economic constitution as the constitution of society. In the second phase, after his long march through the three most advanced social theories of modernity, he develops a ’critical systems theory of law’, which, however, he sharply positions against Niklas Luhmann’s functionalist systems theory. Selbstgerechtes Rechtsverfassungsrecht (self-justifying law of constitutional law) – in this condensed formula Wiethölter enigmatises his vision of a future material constitution. No less enigmatic are its two main elements of a novel ’reciprocity’ and an ’impartial partiality’. How can these enigmatic concepts be deciphered? And what prospects do they open up to an ambitious constitutional program?
There is increasing recognition of the importance of the humanities and arts in medical and psychiatric training. We explore the poetry of Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) and its evocations of depression through themes of mood, time and self-consciousness and discuss their relation to images of ‘spleen’, the ‘snuffling clock’ and the ‘sinister mirror’. Following the literary critical commentaries of Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) and Jean Starobinski (1920–2019) we identify some of their roots in the poet's experience of the rapid and alienating urbanisation of 19th-century Paris. Appreciation of the rich vocabulary of poetry and the images it generates adds depth to clinical practice by painting vivid pictures of subjective experience, including subjective experience of the ‘social’ as part of the biopsychosocial constellation.
This chapter sets out to unpack a number of assumptions and principles on which the mainstream transitional justice approach (normal model) is based. It gives particular attention to Pablo de Greiff’s ‘normative conception of transitional justice’, which provides an important backdrop against which my pluralist reading unfolds in the subsequent chapters. Moreover, this chapter places the book’s argument in relation to larger ongoing critical debates within the field.
Fertility counselors see an array of clients who may be diverse in terms of countries of origin, ethnicity, race and/or cultural background. This chapter identifies principles to guide this conversation. These principles include understanding how we consider race, ethnicity and culture, and emphasize the importance of not essentializing race, ethnicity and culture. The chapter continues with a brief overview of the meaning and consequences of infertility in various places worldwide and among migrant and racial minorities in particular, how this can affect access to, use of and experiences with fertility treatments and assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). Finally, we offer considerations for racially and culturally sensitive clinical approaches in fertility counseling.
This chapter engages various philosophical attempts to define and delimit the essay, and to use the form to do a kind of philosophy that became increasingly urgent in the shadow of twentieth-century atrocities. The author considers theories of the essay by Georg Lukács, Theodor Adorno, Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Walter Pater, and others.
For those troubled by environmental harm on a global scale and its deeply unequal effects, this book explains how international law structures ecological degradation and environmental injustice while claiming to protect the environment. It identifies how central legal concepts such as sovereignty, jurisdiction, territory, development, environment, labour and human rights make inaccurate and unsustainable assumptions about the natural world and systemically reproduce environmental degradation and injustice. To avert socioecological crises, we must not only unpack but radically rework our understandings of nature and its relationship with law. We propose more sustainable and equitable ways to remake law's relationship with nature by drawing on diverse disciplines and sociocultural traditions that have been marginalized within international law. Influenced by Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL), postcolonialism and decoloniality, and inspired by Indigenous knowledges, cosmology, mythology and storytelling, this book lays the groundwork for an epistemological shift in the way humans conceptualize the relationship between law and nature.
Origin stories of the economics discipline give considerable credit not only to philosophy, but also to poetry. And many canonical economists have reputations for polymathy. But interdisciplinary economic inquiry, like that which has become increasingly common since 2008, is often treated as both novel and ill-fated, in part because contemporary orthodox economists lack the commitment to pluralism necessary for fruitful interdisciplinary collaboration. This chapter looks to a 2020 Climate Fiction (“CliFi”) novel, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Ministry For The Future, for models of interdisciplinary collaboration between economists, critical theorists, and climate scientists. In particular, Robinson centers an unlikely pair of Utopian thinkers – British economist John Maynard Keynes and American theorist Fredric Jameson – who at crucial junctures in their careers took seriously what is also the project of Robinson’s titular Ministry: treating future generations as a political constituency deserving of political representation in the present.
Nature and Literary Studies supplies a broad and accessible overview of one of the most important and contested keywords in modern literary studies. Drawing together the work of leading scholars of a variety of critical approaches, historical periods, and cultural traditions, the book examines nature's philosophical, theological, and scientific origins in literature, as well as how literary representations of this concept evolved in response to colonialism, industrialization, and new forms of scientific knowledge. Surveying nature's diverse applications in twenty-first-century literary studies and critical theory, the volume seeks to reconcile nature's ideological baggage with its fundamental role in fostering appreciation of nonhuman being and agency. Including chapters on wilderness, pastoral, gender studies, critical race theory, and digital literature, the book is a key resource for students and professors seeking to understand nature's role in the environmental humanities.
After Hegel the Philosophy of Freedom becomes increasingly illiberal. Whereas for Hegel the nation-state was a middle ground between the extreme Left and Right, Marx, Nietzsche and Heidegger embraced revolutionary visions of a future transformation of mankind in which the state vanishes. Hegel extolled classical Greece for its balance between democracy, Platonic philosophy and high culture. Nietzsche and Heidegger instead embraced the pre-Socratic view of existence as war – more suited to their revolutionary stances. They still agreed that historicism could provide a unified account of life rivaling Plato in scope. That belief was shattered by the Fact/Value distinction, which restored Rousseau’s dualism between nature and freedom and made it a permanent chasm. Belief in a comprehensive theory of history was further discredited by totalitarian movements like Marxism-Leninism and National Socialism which used it to deify tyranny. Academically, the Philosophy of Freedom fragmented into Critical Theory, Postmodernism and Hermeneutics. Politically, radicals like Lenin, Fanon, Shariati and Dugin adapted it to their extremist purposes. Given its arguably dangerous political implications, I conclude by asking: Was the Philosophy of Freedom a mistaken path that should never have been taken? Or might it still contribute to liberal education today?
Critical theory represents the dominant theoretical framework currently deployed in the humanities, yet it is a framework that many theologians have been slow to engage. The recent ‘postcritical’ turn in critical theory, however, has striking affinities with several key concerns of Christian theology, as is becoming increasingly recognised. This article suggests that dialogue between critical theory and theology can be mutually beneficial, particularly in relation to hamartiology. It argues that there is a strong parallel between Martin Luther's theology of the law and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's account of critical theory's ‘paranoid’ hermeneutics. It then draws on this parallel to diagnose a weakness in Sedgwick's ‘postcritical’ response to such paranoia, and suggests that this weakness can be repaired by a specifically theological approach to hermeneutics.
This article detects a persistent imbalance between the zest for critical research and the thinness of critical methodology in the study of European Union (EU) law. The question that drives this investigation is: What can critique contribute to EU legal studies? The article draws on the methodological wealth of critical social theory to explicate how the critique of EU law could further evolve and why it matters. This analysis posits that the lack of adequate methodological engagement leaves EU law scholarship to drift between the problematic idea of unmasking critique, on the one hand, and that of supposedly non-normative critique, on the other hand. The article makes a case for a more dialectical method of critique to clarify how the critique of EU law is always preceded by a choice between competing rationalisations of society. These findings highlight that social theory should be of continuous interest to EU law scholars and that a socio-legal critique of EU law is not reducible to empirical research alone.
After Marx:Literature, Theory and Value demonstrates the importance of Marxist literary and cultural criticism for an era of intersectional politics and economic decline. The volume includes fresh approaches to reading poetry, fiction, film and drama, from Shakespeare to contemporary literature, and shows how Marxist literary criticism improves our understanding of racial capitalism, feminist politics, colonialism, deindustrialization, high-tech labor, ecological crisis, and other issues. A key innovation of the volume's essays is how they attend to Marx's theory of value. For Marx, capitalist value demands a range of different kinds of labor as well as unemployment. This book shows the importance of Marxist approaches to literature that reach beyond simply demonstrating the revolutionary potential or the political consciousness of a 19th-century-style industrial working class. After Marx makes an argument for the twenty-first century interconnectedness of widely different literary genres, and far-flung political struggles.
In this concluding chapter, I discuss my overall findings and their implications. I draw three paired comparisons. Contrasting the first two cases, I find technology was especially important in determining the robustness of normative transformation. Contrasting the first two and third cases, I find normative transformation can occur even without a dedicated set of elite actors acting as ‘entrepreneurs’. Contrasting my approach with that of others, I find a focus on situated creativity, situational rather than personal agency, and a pragmatist view of action clarifies dynamics that are confusing in conventional constructivist theories. I also discuss how my approach may support investigations into other kinds of normative transformations, such as those involving diaspora communities and global governance. I finish by discussing how my findings and my approach support the projects of critical war and security studies and can inform activists and NGOs seeking to limit aggressive or militarised counterterrorism.
In this essay I scrutinize the non-anthropocentric discourses used by the social sciences and humanities narratives and critiques of the Anthropocene. Although not always predominant within the academic Anthropocene debate, such discursive strands remain politically and ethically inspiring and influential in that debate and for the public discourse concerning the epoch. I stress that these discourses inherit the hope for human progress that characterizes critical theory of the Frankfurt school, i.e. ‘critical hope’, a type of hope that renders the non-anthropocentric discourses self-contradictory. Even when they manage to escape the hold of critical hope, these discourses, I argue, suffer from ethical and political failings due to their inherent lack of focus on human–human relations and largely ahistorical nature. I conclude the essay by advocating an Anthropocene archaeology that remains critical of and learns from the ethical and political shortcomings of non-anthropocentric perspectives and making a related call for a slow archaeology of the Anthropocene.
The field of comparative law prioritizes the ascertainment of universals or commonalities across laws, two chimerical pursuits. In the process, comparative research abides significant distortion of information, not always in good faith, and a correlative loss of intellectual warrant. This article urges acknowledgment of such serious epistemic deficit, of its detrimental impact on comparative law, and of the need to restore intellectual integrity to comparative research in law through a radically different approach to foreignness.
This chapter looks at the enduring influence of Hegel on the philosophy of the nineteenth century, especially his ideas of alienation and recognition. Variations of these ideas can be found explicitly or implicitly in all of the thinkers examined in this study and appear in a number of different contexts in addition to philosophy: religion, history, politics, literature, poetry, etc. This shows that the seed that Hegel planted in The Phenomenology of Spirit and later in his Berlin lectures in the 1820s continued to grow through the subsequent decades. This chapter shows that, starting with him, all the thinkers discussed in this study believed there to be an important crisis in their time. An overview is given of their different diagnoses of the nature of this crisis and its causes. A key feature in all of these is the role of alienation in modern life in various spheres: religion, politics, economics, art, etc. Likewise, an account is provided of the various solutions they proposed. Finally, an attempt is made to demonstrate that these issues carry over into the twentieth century, where they are taken up and further expanded upon by philosophers and social scientists.
Hermeneutics, critical theory, and deconstruction designate three intellectual orientations that have dominated debates in continental philosophy. All three exhibit the “linguistic turn.” The debate between Habermas and Gadamer brought Gadamer to prominence. Important for both is the Aristotelian distinction between the practical and the technical. Gadamer is more negatively critical of the Enlightenment than is Habermas. Both are concerned with the instrumentalization of reason in modernity. Yet Gadamer sees Habermas as too utopian. Habermas sees Gadamer as insensitive to the way dialogue is distorted by social forces and political power. This chapter concludes with a consideration of Gadamer in relation to Derrida and deconstruction. Both were profoundly influenced by Heidegger. Yet Gadamer emphasizes continuity, while Derrida emphasizes rupture and break. Gadamer shows us the achievement of understanding, while Derrida is preoccupied with the ways we misunderstand. Derrida and Gadamer serve as correctives of the other, just as Habermas and Gadamer serve as correctives of the other.