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Reflections on Time and Politics

Nathan Widder

Publication Year: 2008

Recent philosophical debates have moved beyond proclamations of the “death of philosophy” and the “death of the subject” to consider more positively how philosophy can be practiced and the human self can be conceptualized today. Inspired by the writings of Nietzsche, Bergson, and Deleuze, rapid changes related to globalization, and advances in evolutionary biology and neuroscience, these debates have generated a renewed focus on time as an active force of change and novelty. Rejecting simple linear models of time, these strands of thought have provided creative alternatives to a traditional reliance on fixed boundaries and stable identities that has proven unable to grapple with the intense speeds and complexities of contemporary life. In this book, Nathan Widder contributes to these debates, but also goes significantly beyond them. Holding that current writings remain too focused on time’s movement, he examines more fundamentally time’s structure and its structural ungrounding, releasing time completely from its traditional subordination to movement and space. Doing this enables him to reformulate entirely the terms through which time and change are understood, leading to a radical alteration of our understandings of power, resistance, language, and the unconscious, and taking post-identity political philosophy and ethics in a new direction. Eighteen independent but interlinked reflections engage with ancient philosophy, mathematical theory, dialectics, psychoanalysis, archaeology, and genealogy. The book’s broad coverage and novel rereadings of key figures—including Aristotle, Bergson, Nietzsche, Foucault, and Deleuze—make this a unique rethinking of the nature of pluralism, multiplicity, and politics.

Published by: Penn State University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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CONTENTS

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pp. vii-viii

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PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. ix-xii

I began this project in early 2004, shortly after a five-month visit by Professors William E. Connolly and Jane Bennett to my department at Exeter University. I benefited greatly from the papers they delivered and from our many lengthy discussions. Bill, who came to Exeter as a Leverhulme...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

Recent philosophical debates have moved beyond proclamations of the "death of philosophy" and the "death of the subject" to consider more affirmatively how philosophy can be practiced and how the human self or subject can be conceptualized today. Combined with the impact of profound...

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1. The "Vulgar" Aristotle

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pp. 13-21

Aristotle is often credited with the first rigorous formulation of the "vulgar" conception of time as an infinite series of "nows" stretching from future to past. For many, this ordinary, chronological conception---which reduces time to space,1 unfolds it in a linear succession,2 or subordinates it...

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2. Point, Line, Curve

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pp. 22-33

Modern set theory rejects the horror infiniti of earlier thought. An infinite like Aristotle's, linked to endless division of finite magnitudes, is a potentiality that cannot become actual; point and line are incompatible because infinity remains a never completed process of approximation. Conversely, an...

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3. Immanence and Sense

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pp. 34-39

In his 1954 review of Jean Hyppolite's Logic and Existence,1 Deleuze sets the direction for his subsequent work in relation to Hegelian dialectics. Affirming both Hyppolite's reading of Hegel and his criticisms of anthropological readings like Kojève's (1969), Deleuze praises Hegel for demanding...

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4. A Discontinuous Bergsonism

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pp. 40-49

From Aristotle to Bergson, time's continuity is consistently derived through analogy with local motion: the simple, undivided movement of an object tracing a line; the lifting of a hand.1 Conversely, the metaphor of music---with its varied layers of rhythm and tempo, melody and counterpoint...

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5. Disguised Platonisms

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pp. 50-62

Is Platonism defined more by the theory of Forms or by the account of reminiscence that enables access to them? Both might seem necessary to escape the aporias of definition most prominent in the early dialogues and attain a positive ground for becoming. Yet they have clearly experienced very...

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6. Syntheses of Difference and Contradiction

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pp. 63-75

In suggesting a route from Hegelian dialectics, Deleuze asks, "Is not contradiction itself only the phenomenal and anthropological aspect of difference?" (Deleuze 1997b, 195). This might suggest a simple inversion of the historical and logical that, as with Marx, would see our logic as the...

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7. Abstract and Concrete Differences: Lacan and Irigaray

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pp. 76-85

As kojève (1969, esp. "In Place of an Introduction") explains, Hegelian desire consists of two levels. Natural desire seeks to negate the otherness of an object in order to possess or consume it. Human desire, however, negates this negation, though it also preserves and sublates both natural desire...

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8. Repetition and the Three Syntheses of Time

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pp. 86-99

How does difference become the structure of time as such, rather than an event occurring in time? For Deleuze, it is a matter of repetition. Repetition must not be confused with generality, which belongs to the domain of law (Deleuze 1994, 2) and presents a "qualitative order of resemblances"...

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9. Incorporeal Surfaces

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pp. 100-107

An ontology of sense invokes a surface that brings together and coordinates divergent realms and becomings. It thereby opposes traditional appeals to transcendent Ideas or external telei, seeking immanent principles instead. As has been seen, however, apparently anti-Platonist philosophies...

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10. The Logic of (Non)Sense

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pp. 108-114

Contradiction---the notion that X is at once both itself and not-X---is the nonsense that creates dialectical sense. It provides the mediating surface that stitches together thought and thing, concept and object, what is said and that of which it is said. Deleuze counterpoises difference to opposition...

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11. Regularities of Dispersion

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pp. 115-120

The Archaeology of Knowledge aims to outline the discursive formations that enable the emergence of subjects and objects and that condition the production of knowledge domains. In other words, it seeks to analyze the structures and processes that establish a surface of sense. To achieve...

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12. The Genesis of the Surface I: The Theory of Drives

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pp. 121-129

Freud often laments that the understanding of instincts remains obscure, insufficiently established, and lagging in development compared to the rest of psychoanalytic theory (Freud 1953, 168n2; 1957a, 50; 1957b, 117-18; 1957c, 78; 1959, 56-57; 1965, 95; 1994, 45). Yet perhaps this is due...

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13. The Genesis of the Surface II: Negation and Disjunction

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pp. 130-142

For freud, negation is both a surface effect and what generates this surface. It is a correlate of the consciousness and intellect that make up the psyche's surface, but it is mapped more or less accurately onto the body's physical surface and the negative difference between inside and outside...

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14. Crisis Time: Nihilism and the Will to Truth

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pp. 143-156

For nietzsche, modern nihilism is a condition in which delegitimated values of the past remain embedded in an incompatible present. Morality is "a system of evaluations that partially coincides with the conditions of a creature's life" (Nietzsche 1968, §256) because "feelings about values are...

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15. Discipline and Normalization

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pp. 157-164

Foucault is often credited with the view that power fixes and imposes identities on its subjects, while resistance, which may be considered a form of power, opposes this first power and thereby dissolves or deconstructs power's identity formations.1 This use of identity as a central term around...

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16. Time, Guilt, and Overcoming

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pp. 165-176

one does not need freud to understand how trauma initiates a repetition operating beyond any reference to pleasure or the pleasure principle. The death of a loved one, the breakdown of a marriage, or even a minor public embarrassment---regardless of whether these occur quickly or develop gradually...

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17. Micropolitics "Beneath" Identity

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pp. 177-183

Despite their fictitiousness, identity and opposition do structure a certain level of political and social life, figuring most prominently in the standards of normality and deviancy that seem to give sense to various practices and institutions. Deviation from the norm is considered a failure to achieve...

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18. The Care of the Self and Politics

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pp. 184-188

The will to truth underpinning disciplinary and normalizing powers may seek to categorize differences according to standards of normality and deviance. But the operations of these power relations always produce something else. Moreover, the frictions and conflicts within disciplinary institutions...

REFERENCES

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pp. 189-198

INDEX

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pp. 199-208


E-ISBN-13: 9780271053233
E-ISBN-10: 0271053232
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271033952
Print-ISBN-10: 0271033959

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 1 chart/graph
Publication Year: 2008

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