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The Illusion of History

time and the radical political imagination

Andrew R. Russ

Publication Year: 2013

Andrew Russ argues in this book that a closer look at their philosophical underpinnings finds that Rousseau, Marx, and Foucault are much less "historical" in their methodology than is widely believed. Instead, they share a more "timeless" view, one indebted to principles ordinarily seen as timeless or transcendent

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4


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p. 5-5


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pp. v-7

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pp. 1-32

Radicalism in politics is a perennial presence. A niggling awareness that societal relations must change, that existing affairs are onerous, incompetent, or evidently soul-destroying, has stalked human...

Part 1: Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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pp. 33-104

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1. Rousseau’s Convoluted Personal Relation to Time

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pp. 35-51

In studying the timelessness of Rousseau’s political scheme, perhaps the most fertile starting point is Rousseau’s vast autobiographical project. Not only does it furnish the investigator with many illuminating...

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2. The First Attack and First History

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pp. 52-64

How radical was Rousseau’s breach with his contemporaries? Exactly how divergent was the prize essay on the Arts and Sciences from the general tenor of eighteenth-century society? To gauge this it is necessary...

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3. The Second Attack and Second History

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pp. 65-82

Rousseau gave intimations of the world of nature he was to open up in the “First Discourse” when he mused, “We cannot reflect on the morality of mankind without contemplating with pleasure...

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4. The Social Contract

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pp. 83-104

The Social Contract is Rousseau’s crowning work of political influence. Its preeminence comes not only from its influence in the realm of political theory, but also its moment of influential grace during one...

Part 2: Karl Marx

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pp. 105-190

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5. Eternity and Constant Transformation: Marx’s Redirection of the Problem of Time

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pp. 107-116

What must first be acknowledged when turning to Karl Marx and his project’s relation to time and history is that he was a thinker avowedly committed to temporality, and that his corpus is built directly...

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6. Marx’s Early Years

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pp. 117-136

My discussion of Rousseau began with the works of his later life in order to strip back a philosophy that attempts to push society into a regained childhood. Contrarily, Marx’s youthful life can give us the direction...

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7. The Mode of Production

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pp. 137-163

In a speech delivered at the anniversary of the “People’s Paper,” Marx outlined the rupture of history, which had produced such a lamentable state of wealth and inequality, progress and deepening...

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8. Science, Capital, Proles

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pp. 164-190

Despite Marx’s supposed position on the radical temporality of all individuals and ideas, Marx himself and the type of science he was forging were not subjected to such a limitation. In typical...

Part 3: Michel Foucault

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pp. 191-286

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9. The Timeless Will Attacks Itself

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pp. 193-197

Kant’s timeless will, the foundation of all modern emancipatory political projects, was such a powerfully endowed conception of human thought and judgment that it was inevitable that that activity would...

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10. Archaeology

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pp. 198-221

By way of introduction, it is helpful to observe the grander historical elements of Foucault’s early archaeological project before delving into its more nuanced architecture. This will provide a framework for a later discussion...

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11. Genealogy: The Menippean Character of History

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pp. 222-252

Let us approach the problem of history more from Foucault’s direction. Perhaps his spatial history is no random illusion of it, but instead a kind of perverse heightening and intensification of history in order...

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12. Ethos and Attitude: The Return of the Phantom Self

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pp. 253-286

In this concluding chapter on Foucault, I wish to examine the thinker’s readmission of the free activity of the self into his imaginative rationale, where before it had been conspicuously absent. The term...

Part 4: Kant and Kafka

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pp. 287-295

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13. The Unstable Temporal Landscape of Critique

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pp. 289-315

The argument of this book has from the outset viewed Kant as a thinker whose critical philosophy has opened a wide and complex space for political thought and endeavor. It takes seriously the claim that practical...

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pp. 317-323

In this conclusion I wish to look back on what may be called the positive and negative poles to which the radical political imagination is attracted. As the philosophies of Rousseau, Marx, and Foucault are all in some...

Appendixes: Rousseau’s Narrative of History and Marx’s Engine of History

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pp. 325-333


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pp. 327-333


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pp. 335-338

E-ISBN-13: 9780813220062
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813220055

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2013

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