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The Agony of Eros

Byung-Chul Han

Byung-Chul Han is one of the most widely read philosophers in Europe today, a member of the new generation of German thinkers that includes Markus Gabriel and Armen Avanessian. In The Agony of Eros, a bestseller in Germany, Han considers the threat to love and desire in today's society. For Han, love requires the courage to accept self-negation for the sake of discovering the Other. In a world of fetishized individualism and technologically mediated social interaction, it is the Other that is eradicated, not the self. In today's increasingly narcissistic society, we have come to look for love and desire within the "inferno of the same." Han offers a survey of the threats to Eros, drawing on a wide range of sources -- Lars von Trier's film Melancholia, Wagner's Tristan und Isolde,Fifty Shades of Grey, Michel Foucault (providing a scathing critique of Foucault's valorization of power), Martin Buber, Hegel, Baudrillard, Flaubert, Barthes, Plato, and others. Han considers the "pornographication" of society, and shows how pornography profanes eros; addresses capitalism's leveling of essential differences; and discusses the politics of eros in today's "burnout society." To be dead to love, Han argues, is to be dead to thought itself. Concise in its expression but unsparing in its insight, The Agony of Eros is an important and provocative entry in Han's ongoing analysis of contemporary society.This remarkable essay, an intellectual experience of the first order, affords one of the best ways to gain full awareness of and join in one of the most pressing struggles of the day: the defense, that is to say -- as Rimbaud desired it -- the "reinvention" of love. -- from the foreword by Alain Badiou

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Agreement and Head Movement

Clitics, Incorporation, and Defective Goals

Ian Roberts

An argument that, contrary to Chomsky, head-movement is part of the narrow syntax.

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Agreement and Its Failures

Omer Preminger

In this book, Omer Preminger investigates how the obligatory nature of predicate-argument agreement is enforced by the grammar. Preminger argues that an empirically adequate theory of predicate-argument agreement requires recourse to an operation, whose obligatoriness is a grammatical primitive not reducible to representational properties, but whose successful culmination is not enforced by the grammar. Preminger's argument counters contemporary approaches that find the obligatoriness of predicate-argument agreement enforced through representational means. The most prominent of these is Chomsky's "interpretability"-based proposal, in which the obligatoriness of predicate-argument agreement is enforced through derivational time bombs. Preminger presents an empirical argument against contemporary approaches that seek to derive the obligatory nature of predicate-argument agreement exclusively from derivational time bombs. He offers instead an alternative account based on the notion of obligatory operations better suited to the facts. The crucial data involves utterances that inescapably involve attempted-but-failed agreement and are nonetheless fully grammatical. Preminger combines a detailed empirical investigation of agreement phenomena in the Kichean (Mayan) languages, Zulu (Bantu), Basque, Icelandic, and French with an extensive and rigorous theoretical exploration of the far-reaching consequences of these data. The result is a novel proposal that has profound implications for the formalism that the theory of grammar uses to derive obligatory processes and properties.

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Alien Agency

Experimental Encounters with Art in the Making

Chris Salter

In Alien Agency, Chris Salter tells three stories of art in the making. Salter examines three works in which the materials of art -- the "stuff of the world" -- behave and perform in ways beyond the creator's intent, becoming unknown, surprising, alien. Studying these works -- all three deeply embroiled in and enabled by science and technology -- allows him to focus on practice through the experiential and affective elements of creation. Drawing on extensive ethnographic observation and on his own experience as an artist, Salter investigates how researcher-creators organize the conditions for these experimental, performative assemblages -- assemblages that sidestep dichotomies between subjects and objects, human and nonhuman, mind and body, knowing and experiencing.Salter reports on the sound artists Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger (O+A) and their efforts to capture and then project unnoticed urban sounds; tracks the multi-year project TEMA (Tissue Engineered Muscle Actuators) at the art research lab SymbioticA and its construction of a hybrid "semi-living" machine from specially grown mouse muscle cells; and describes a research-creation project (which he himself initiated) that uses light, vibration, sound, smell, and other sensory stimuli to enable audiences to experience other cultures' "ways of sensing." Combining theory, diary, history, and ethnography, Salter also explores a broader question: How do new things emerge into the world and what do they do?

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All and Nothing

A Digital Apocalypse

Martin Burckhardt

In the beginning was the Zero, and the Zero was with God, and God was the One. -- All and Nothing

In 1854, the British mathematician George Boole presented the idea of a universe the elements of which could be understood in terms of the logic of absence and presence: 0 and 1, all and nothing -- the foundation of binary code. The Boolean digits 0 and 1 do not designate a quantity. In the Boolean world, x times x always equals x; all and nothing meet in the formula x = xn. As everything becomes digitized, God the clockmaker is replaced by God the programmer. This book--described by its authors as "a theology for the digital world" -- explores meaning in a digital age of infinite replication, in a world that has dissolved into information and achieved immortality by turning into a pure sign.

All and Nothing compares information that spreads without restraint to a hydra -- the mythological monster that grew two heads for every one that was cut off. Information is thousand-headed and thousand-eyed because Hydra's tracks cannot be deleted. It shows that when we sit in front of a screen, we are actually on the other side, looking at the world as an uncanny reminder of the nondigitized. It compares our personal data to our shadows and our souls, envisioning the subconscious laid out on a digital bier like a corpse.

The digital world, the authors explain, summons forth fantasies of a chiliastic or apocalyptic nature. The goal of removing the representative from mathematics has now been achieved on a greater scale than Boole could have imagined.

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The American Journal of Bioethics

Vol. 1 (2001) - vol. 4, no. 2 (2004)

AJOB provides a rapid, peer-reviewed collection of scholarship about emerging issues in bioethics. The Journal is available in a unique print and internet format. Subscribers receive access to the ajobonline portal, which features on-line news updates, live bioethics events, rankings of bioethics graduate programs, and other materials.

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The Ancient Origins of Consciousness

How the Brain Created Experience

Todd E. Feinberg

How is consciousness created? When did it first appear on Earth, and how did it evolve? What constitutes consciousness, and which animals can be said to be sentient? In this book, Todd Feinberg and Jon Mallatt draw on recent scientific findings to answer these questions -- and to tackle the most fundamental question about the nature of consciousness: how does the material brain create subjective experience? After assembling a list of the biological and neurobiological features that seem responsible for consciousness, and considering the fossil record of evolution, Feinberg and Mallatt argue that consciousness appeared much earlier in evolutionary history than is commonly assumed. About 520 to 560 million years ago, they explain, the great "Cambrian explosion" of animal diversity produced the first complex brains, which were accompanied by the first appearance of consciousness; simple reflexive behaviors evolved into a unified inner world of subjective experiences. From this they deduce that all vertebrates are and have always been conscious -- not just humans and other mammals, but also every fish, reptile, amphibian, and bird. Considering invertebrates, they find that arthropods (including insects and probably crustaceans) and cephalopods (including the octopus) meet many of the criteria for consciousness. The obvious and conventional wisdom--shattering implication is that consciousness evolved simultaneously but independently in the first vertebrates and possibly arthropods more than half a billion years ago. Combining evolutionary, neurobiological, and philosophical approaches allows Feinberg and Mallatt to offer an original solution to the "hard problem" of consciousness.

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Animal Thinking

Contemporary Issues in Comparative Cognition

Edited by Randolf Menzel and Julia Fischer

Experts from psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, ecology, and evolutionary biology assess the field of animal cognition.

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The Anxious Mind

An Investigation into the Varieties and Virtues of Anxiety

Charlie Kurth

An empirically informed, philosophical account of the nature of anxiety and its value for agency, virtue, and decision making.

In The Anxious Mind, Charlie Kurth offers a philosophical account of anxiety in its various forms, investigating its nature and arguing for its value in agency, virtue, and decision making. Folk wisdom tells us that anxiety is unpleasant and painful, and scholarly research seems to provide empirical and philosophical confirmation of this. But Kurth points to anxiety's positive effects: enhancing performance, facilitating social interaction, and even contributing to moral thought and action.

Kurth argues that an empirically informed philosophical account of anxiety can help us understand the nature and value of emotions, and he offers just such an account. He develops a model of anxiety as a bio-cognitive emotion -- anxiety is an aversive emotional response to uncertainty about threats or challenges -- and shows that this model captures the diversity in the types of anxiety we experience. Building on this, he considers a range of issues in moral psychology and ethical theory. He explores the ways in which anxiety can be valuable, arguing that anxiety can be a fitting response and that it undergirds an important form of moral concern. He considers anxiety's role in deliberation and decision making, using the examples of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the abolitionist John Woolmanto show that anxiety can be a mechanism of moral progress. Drawing on insights from psychiatry and clinical psychology, Kurth argues that we can cultivate anxiety so that we are better able to experience it at the right time and in the right way.

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Architects' Gravesites

A Serendipitous Guide

Henry H Kuehn

All working architects leave behind a string of monuments to themselves in the form of buildings they have designed. But what about the final spaces that architects themselves will occupy? Are architects' gravesites more monumental -- more architectural -- than others? This unique book provides an illustrated guide to more than 200 gravesites of famous architects, almost all of them in the United States. Led by our intrepid author, Henry Kuehn, we find that most graves of architects are not monumental but rather modest, that many architects did not design their final resting places, and that a surprising number had their ashes scattered.Architects' Gravesites offers an alphabetical listing, from Alvar Aalto and Dankmar Adler (Louis Sullivan's partner) to Frank Lloyd Wright and Minoru Yamasaki (designer of the Word Trade Center's twin towers). Each entry includes a brief note on the architect's career and a color photograph of the site. For example, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is buried in Chicago under a simple granite slab designed by his architect grandson; Louise Bethune, the first American woman to become a professional architect, is buried under a headstone inscribed only with her husband's name (a plaque honoring her achievements was installed later); Philip Johnson's ashes were spread in his rose garden, with no marker, across the street from his famous Glass House; and the grave of Pierre L'Enfant in Arlington National Cemetery offers a breathtaking view of Washington, D.C., the city he designed. Architects' Gravesites is an architectural guide like no other, revealing as much about mortality as about monumentality.

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