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Alphonso Lingis’s singular works of philosophy are not so much written as performed, and in The First Person Singular the performance is characteristically brilliant, a consummate act of philosophical reckoning. Lingis’s subject here, aptly enough, is the subject itself, understood not as consciousness but as embodied, impassioned, active being. His book is, at the same time, an elegant cultural analysis of how subjectivity is differently and collectively understood, invested, and situated.
Eastern Europe, Literature, Postimperial Difference
How are we to read the world after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Form and Instability brings notions of figuration and translation to bear on the post-1989 condition. "Eastern Europe" in this book is more than a territory. Marked by belatedness and untimely remainders, it is an unstable object that is continually misapprehended. From the intersection of comparative literature, area studies, and literary theory, Anita Starosta considers the epistemological and aesthetic consequences of the disappearance of the Second World. Literature here becomes a critical lens in its own right—both object and method, it confronts us with the rhetorical dimension of language and undermines the ideological and hermeneutic coherence of established categories. In original readings of Joseph Conrad and Witold Gombrowicz, among other twentieth-century writers, Form and Instability unsettles cultural boundaries as we know them.
Child Murder and Atonement in Modern American Fiction
The Forsaken Son engages the provocative coincidence of the vocabularies of infanticide and Christianity, specifically atonement theology, in six modern American novels: Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away, the first two installments of John Updike’s Rabbit tetralogy, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Joyce Carol Oates’s My Sister, My Love, and Cormac McCarthy’s Outer Dark.
Christian atonement theology explains why God lets His son be crucified. Yet in recent years, as an increasing number of scholars have come to reject that explanation, the cross reverts from saving grace to trauma—or even crime. More bluntly, without atonement, the cross may be a filicide, in which God forces his son to die for no apparent reason. Pederson argues that the novels about child murder mentioned above likewise give voice to modern skepticism about traditional atonement theology.
In her book, Oksala shows that the arguments for the ineliminability of violence from the political are often based on excessively broad, ontological conceptions of violence distinct from its concrete and physical meaning and, on the other hand, on a restrictively narrow and empirical understanding of politics as the realm of conventional political institutions.
An Introduction to the Philosophical Life
In his renowned courses at the Collège de France from 1982 to 1984, Michel Foucault devoted his lectures to meticulous readings and interpretations of the works of Plato, Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, among others. In this his aim was not, Edward F. McGushin contends, to develop a new knowledge of the history of philosophy; rather, it was to let himself be transformed by the very activity of thinking. Thus, this work shows us Foucault in the last phase of his life in the act of becoming a philosopher. Here we see how his encounter with ancient philosophy allowed him to experience the practice of philosophy as, to paraphrase Nietzsche, a way of becoming who one is: the work of self formation that the Greeks called askésis.
Reading the Late Heidegger
Heidegger’s later thought is a thinking of things, so argues Andrew J. Mitchell in The Fourfold. Heidegger understands these things in terms of what he names “the fourfold”—a convergence of relationships bringing together the earth, the sky, divinities, and mortals—and Mitchell’s book is the first detailed exegesis of this neglected aspect of Heidegger’s later thought. As such it provides entrée to the full landscape of Heidegger’s postwar thinking, offering striking new interpretations of the atomic bomb, technology, plants, animals, weather, time, language, the holy, mortality, dwelling, and more. What results is a conception of things as ecstatic, relational, singular, and, most provocatively, as intrinsically tied to their own technological commodification. A major new work that resonates beyond the confines of Heidegger scholarship, The Fourfold proposes nothing less than a new phenomenological thinking of relationality and mediation for understanding the things around us.
Brett Foster is Associate Professor of English at Wheaton College. He is currently completing Elemental Rebel: The Rime of Cecco Angiolieri. A past Wallace Stegner and Elizabethan Club fellow, his poetry and criticism has appeared in Raritan, The Kenyon Review, Best New Poets 2007, and Books & Culture, among other publications.
Scheler, Bakhtin, and Dostoevsky