In the Spirit of Critique
Thinking Politically in the Dialectical Tradition
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: State University of New York Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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I have worked on this book off and on for the better part of a decade, and over the years I have managed to incur quite a few debts. I certainly owe special thanks to the friends and colleagues who have read and commented on drafts of various portions of the project, including Paul Apostolidis, Banu Bargu, Michael Bray, Lewis Hinchman...
Chapter One: Introduction
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Any effort today to revisit the modern dialectical tradition is to set out upon a beleaguered intellectual terrain. To put an ironic twist on the famed words of one of our conversation partners, we might say that the dialectical has become a tradition of dead generations, and one that really only weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.1 Nowadays mention of the dialectical legacy seems...
Chapter Two: Restaging the Dialectic
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“How do we now stand as regards the Hegelian dialectic?” This, Marx said, is “the really vital question.”1 For our purposes, we might amend Marx’s stylistic emphasis somewhat. Ultimately our purpose in this chapter is to show that “the Hegelian dialectic” is not as singular or as monolithic as it is sometimes presumed to be. Taking issue with what has become a rather unduly caricatured...
Chapter Three: In a Milieu of Scarcity
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In an interview in 1975, when Jean-Paul Sartre was seventy years old and nearly incapacitated by blindness, after he had disavowed Marxism but at a time when he still thought of himself as a kind of dialectician, he was asked to reflect on the notion of scarcity. “I consider that scarcity is the phenomenon in which we live,” he replied. “It is impossible to suppress...
Chapter Four: Between Despair and Redemption
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It has become a frequently invoked image, that of Walter Benjamin approaching the Franco-Spanish border in 1940, in the wake of the Hitler- Stalin pact and in possession of his famous “Theses on the Philosophy of History.” It is an image of a deeply despondent and ultimately suicidal Benjamin, a man yearning desperately for some sort of salvation...
Chapter Five: The Instinctive Dialectic
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In his early work Marx speaks forthrightly of a “fully developed humanism,” which entails, he says, a “reintegration or return of man to himself” and a “complete return of man to himself as a social (i.e., human) being.”1 Marx counsels here a certain redemptive or reconciliatory vision, one that emerges in his work alongside growing suspicions of disembodied rationalism and the Cartesian...
Chapter Six: Conclusion
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“This is a time,” Fredric Jameson says, “when people no longer understand what dialectical thinking is or why the dialectic came into being in the first place, when they have abandoned the dialectical for less rewarding Nietzschean positions.” There is, he says, “a need today for a revitalized vision of the dialectic,” a vision that “would certainly not abandon Marx,” but that...
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Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2013