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Improper Life Cover

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Improper Life

Technology and Biopolitics from Heidegger to Agamben

Timothy C. Campbell

Has biopolitics actually become thanatopolitics, a field of study obsessed with death? Is there something about the nature of biopolitical thought today that makes it impossible to deploy affirmatively? If this is true, what can life-minded thinkers put forward as the merits of biopolitical reflection? These questions drive Improper Life, Timothy C. Campbell’s dexterous inquiry-as-intervention.

Campbell argues that a “crypto-thanatopolitics” can be teased out of Heidegger’s critique of technology and that some of the leading scholars of biopolitics—including Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, and Peter Sloterdijk—have been substantively influenced by Heidegger’s thought, particularly his reading of proper and improper writing. In fact, Campbell shows how all of these philosophers have pointed toward a tragic, thanatopolitical destination as somehow an inevitable result of technology. But in Improper Life he articulates a corrective biopolitics that can begin with rereadings of Foucault (especially his late work regarding the care and technologies of the self), Freud (notably his writings on the drives and negation), and Gilles Deleuze (particularly in the relation of attention to aesthetics).

Throughout Improper Life, Campbell insists that biopolitics can become more positive and productively asserts an affirmative technē not thought through thanatos but rather practiced through bíos.

In Search of Schopenhauer's Cat Cover

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In Search of Schopenhauer's Cat

Arthur Schopenhauer's Quantum-Mystical Theory of Justice

Raymond B. Marcin

In this book Raymond B. Marcin offers several reasons why a review and a reevaluation of Schopenhauer's theory of justice are worthwhile now, almost two hundred years after it was first formulated.

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In the Spirit of Critique

Thinking Politically in the Dialectical Tradition

Offers a new perspective on the political significance of the Hegelian dialectical legacy.

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Infinite Autonomy

The Divided Individual in the Political Thought of G. W. F. Hegel and Friedrich Nietzsche

Jeffrey Church

G. W. F. Hegel and Friedrich Nietzsche are often considered the philosophical antipodes of the nineteenth century. In Infinite Autonomy, Jeffrey Church draws on the thinking of both Hegel and Nietzsche to assess the modern Western defense of individuality—to consider whether we were right to reject the ancient model of community above the individual. The theoretical and practical implications of this project are important, because the proper defense of the individual allows for the survival of modern liberal institutions in the face of non-Western critics who value communal goals at the expense of individual rights. By drawing from Hegelian and Nietzschean ideas of autonomy, Church finds a third way for the individual—what he calls the “historical individual,” which goes beyond the disagreements of the ancients and the moderns while nonetheless incorporating their distinctive contributions.

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The Intellectual Origins of the Global Financial Crisis

Roger Berkowitz

Commentary on the financial crisis has offered technical analysis, political finger pointing, and myriad economic and political solutions. But rarely do these investigations reach beyond the economic and political causes of the crisis toexplore their underlying intellectual grounds. The essays in this volume delve deeper into the cultural and intellectual foundations, philosophical ideas, political traditions, and economic movements that underlie the greatest financial crisis in nearly a century. Moving beyond traditional economic and political science approaches, these essays engage thinkers from Hannah Arendt to Max Weber and Adam Smith to Michel Foucault.With Arendt as a catalyst, the authors probe the philosophical as well as the cultural origins of the great recession. Orienting the volume is Arendt's argument that past financial crises and also totalitarianism are rooted, at least in part, in the tendency for capital to expand its reach globally without regard to political and moral borders or limits. That politics is made subservient to economics names a cultural transformation that, in the spirit of Arendt, guides these essays in making sense of our present world.Including articles, interviews, and commentary from leading scholars and business executives, this volume offers views that are as diverse as they are timely. By reaching beyond "how" the crisis happened to "why" the crisis happened, the authors re-imagine the recent financial crisis and thus provide fresh thinking about how to respond.

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Irony in the Age of Empire

Comic Perspectives on Democracy and Freedom

Cynthia Willett

Comedy, from social ridicule to the unruly laughter of the carnival, provides effective tools for reinforcing social patterns of domination as well as weapons for emancipation. In Irony in the Age of Empire, Cynthia Willett asks: What could embody liberation better than laughter? Why do the oppressed laugh? What vision does the comic world prescribe? For Willett, the comic trumps standard liberal accounts of freedom by drawing attention to bodies, affects, and intimate relationships, topics which are usually neglected by political philosophy. Willett's philosophical reflection on comedy issues a powerful challenge to standard conceptions of freedom by proposing a new kind of freedom that is unapologetically feminist, queer, and multiracial. This book provides a wide-ranging, original, thoughtful, and expansive discussion of citizenship, social manners, and political freedom in our world today.

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Irving Howe and the Critics

Celebrations and Attacks

John Rodden

Irving Howe and the Critics is a selection of essays and reviews about the work of Irving Howe (1920–93), a vocal radical humanist and the most influential American socialist intellectual of his generation. Howe authored eighteen books, edited twenty-five more, wrote dozens of articles and reviews, and edited the magazine Dissent for forty years after founding it. His writings cover subjects ranging from U.S. labor to the vicissitudes of American communism and socialism to Yiddishkeit and contemporary politics. His book World of Our Fathers: The Journey of the East European Jews to America and the Life They Found and Made received the National Book Award for Nonfiction.
 
John Rodden has chosen essays and reviews that focus on Howe’s major works and on the disputes they generated. He features both Dissent contributors and those who have dissented from the Dissenters—on the Right as well as the Left. Rodden includes a few stern assessments of Howe from his less sympathetic critics, testifying not only to the range of response—from admiration to hostility—that his work received but also to his stature on the Left as a prime intellectual target of neoconservative fire.

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Is There a Canadian Philosophy?

Reflections on the Canadian Identity

G.B. Madison, Paul Fairfield and Ingrid Harris

Is There a Canadian Philosophy? addresses the themes of community, culture, national identity, and universal human rights, taking the Canadian example as its focus. The authors argue that nations compelled to cope with increasing demands for group recognition may do so in a broadly liberal spirit and without succumbing to the dangers associated with an illiberal, adversarial multiculturalism. They identify and describe a Canadian civic philosophy and attempt to show how this modus operandi of Canadian public life is capable of reconciling questions of collective identity and recognition with a commitment to individual rights and related principles of liberal democracy. They further argue that this philosophy can serve as a model for nations around the world faced with internal complexities and growing demands for recognition from populations more diverse than at any previous time in their histories.

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Jewishness and the Human Dimension

Jonathan Boyarin

Jewishness and the Human Dimension is a leading scholar's progress report on an effort to bring Jewishness broadly construed into dialogue with a wide range of thought in contemporary criticism, while linking those themes in turn to the question of planetary crisis.Each chapter emerges from and addresses the circumstances of its composition; a talk to New Jersey undergraduates inviting them to contemplate their lifespans vis--vis the life history of the species; a meeting to contemplate Jewish memory outside Europe and after 1945; an inaugural address as the author sought to make sense of leaving his home on the Lower East Side and making a new one in Kansas. Two chapters on research and teaching in Jewish cultural studies as academic practice develop the notion of Jewish studies as a human science and examine how Jewish historiography, once a deeply conservative discipline, has integrated insights from anthropology and literary cultural studies. Boyarin also shares a dialogue withthe Jerusalem-based physicist Martin Land on physical and cultural ideas of futurity and redemption. The book ends with a stark challenge to those who work in the contemporary humanities and social sciences: in order to be able to contribute to the possibility of sustained human life on Earth, we need to interrogate rigorously now the status of human differences. Neither ethnography (though it relishes the particular), memoir (though a personal voice is readily audible), nor criticism (though the work and figures of Jacques Derrida and especially Walter Benjamin are indispensable to its project), this book attempts to put in place words of the late Moishe Fogel, vice president of the Eighth Street Shul, that have long stood as a watchword for the author's writing: Everything what you know you gotta use!

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