Issue 7.4 opens with three essays which engage in different ways with the early modern thought of Thomas Hobbes:
Samantha Frost outlines a Hobbesian defence of lying in public life that runs directly counter to the Kantian tradition of honesty at all costs. She shows how Hobbes’s commitment to creating and sustaining the conditions for peace, in conjunction with his materialist theory of the will, leads him to defend lying as a necessary condition of political life. Finally, she draws surprisingly radical consequences from this view.
James R. Martel rereads Hobbes’s reading of Scripture in Leviathan in order to show how he opens up the question of reading to the play of rhetoric and interpretation. In the process, he argues, Hobbes subverts his own apparent defence of sovereign authority and shows us how Scripture speaks against all forms of absolute truth in the world.
Rick Parrish reads Hobbes in the light of Derrida in order to focus on the interpretative violence that is a condition of all communication. He argues that the social contract is at once both an escape from the unavoidable violence of the state of nature but also unavoidably caught up in this economy of interpretative violence.
Michael J. Shapiro surveys some of the ways in which architectural design in America expresses a social imaginary. From Thomas Jefferson’s designs for Monticello and The University of Virginia to Daniel Libeskind’s design for the new World Trade Center, via the architecture of urban spaces and the alternative spaces of African-American University campuses and Native American buildings, architectural design embodies a struggle between the expression of a unitary and hierarchical social order and the expression of a more open and pluralistic vision of America.
Miguel Vatter’s article provides the core of a symposium on the theorisation of politics in the late work of the influential French Marxist Louis Althusser. He retraces Althusser’s final abandonment of his earlier structuralist Marxism in favour of a ‘perspective of the eventual’ shared with other French thinkers such as Foucault, Deleuze and Derrida. He argues that, by adopting a conception of the autonomy of politics heavily influenced by Machiavelli, Althusser opened up new perspectives for our understanding of Machiavelli as well as for contemporary post-Marxist political thought.
Warren Montag responds by outlining an alternative reading of Althusser’s late work and calling for a reconsideration of what is at stake in such debate over the limits of Marxism.
In the Reviews section:
David Campbell reviews two books dealing with Architecture and Politics in Israel/Palestine: Daniel Bertrand Monk, An Aesthetic Occupation: The Immediacy of Architecture and the Palestine Conflict (Duke, 2002), and Rafi Segal and Eyal Weizman, eds., A Civilian Occupation: The Politics of Israeli Architecture (Verso, 2003).
Lasse Thomassen reviews Giovanna Borradori’s interviews with Habermas and Derrida in the aftermath of 9/11: Philosophy In a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida (University of Chicago Press, 2003).
Jason Frank reviews Dana R. Villa, Socratic Citizenship (Princeton University Press, 2001).
Barbara Cruikshank reviews Michael Shapiro, For Moral Ambiguity: National Culture and the Politics of the Family (University of Minnesota Press, 2001).