Saturday, October 27, 2007

Patrone, Tatiana. "Review of Joakin Garff's Soren Kierkegaard: a Biography." METAPSYCHOLOGY ONLINE REVIEWS October 23, 2007.

Kierkegaard's corpus is vast and yet, as Garff says, "we have no idea what he was really like." Indeed, Kierkegaard himself wrote: "after my death, this is my consolation: no one will be able to find in my papers one single bit of information about what has really filled my life" (101). Garff argues that from the moment Kierkegaard started to write he was very careful to come up and to maintain a myth of himself, an interpretation of his own life story (philosophical and social, romantic and familial), a story that he presents to his future biographers and readers, a story in which every thought and every word is masterfully expressed and documented 'just right.' In fact, Garff claims, Kierkegaard was not manipulating his reader; on the contrary -- he himself saw his life as a narrative to be uncovered and told in such a way that it would make certain sense to him as the one who was living this life. That is, looking back at his own past, Kierkegaard was always in the business of recollecting it rather than merely remembering it (97). Garff goes as far as to remark that in this, "deception and self-deception walk faithfully hand in hand" (202). However, the picture of Kierkegaard that Garff paints is quite moving -- Kierkegaard's seriousness with respect to his life projects and to how they were to be taken by his contemporaries and by his successors both inspires and humbles. In this picture, Kierkegaard does not appear to be writing in bad faith; on the contrary -- he comes off as a philosopher who treats philosophizing and reflection upon one's life and work with utmost earnestness. . . . Read the rest here:

Singh, A., and M. Singamsetty. "Review of Judith Butler's Gender Trouble." METAPSYCHOLOGY ONLINE REVIEWS October 23, 2007.

Judith Butler's Gender Trouble, simply put, traces the multivalent discourses around sex/gender and shows the trouble with them. First published back in 1990, the uniqueness, rigor, and finesse of Butler's analysis promptly served to propel the book and its author into the center of numerous academic debates: Was Butler a feminist or an anti-feminist? Does the text serve to privilege Gender Studies or undermined it? Whose side is she on, anyway -- or is she saying that there are no sides anymore? . . . Read the rest here:

Mras, Gabreiele M. "Review of Kenneth Winkler, ed. CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO BERKELEY." METAPSYCHOLOGY ONLINE REVIEWS October 9, 2007.

The Cambridge Companion to Berkeley, edited by Kenneth Winkler, is an impressive collection of twelve articles about a philosopher whose work has all too often been regarded as resting on some basic confusions or even being plainly unintelligible. The peculiarity of Berkeley's "subjective idealism" makes it indeed hard to understand how this way of overcoming skepticism could leave us with anything as object of knowledge. That, in addition to Berkeley's conviction that that realism had to be given up, and so that all we ever perceive are ideas, that matter is mind dependent, and that there are no causal relations, represents a challenge to anybody seeking to expound Berkeley's views. One of the aims of this Cambridge Companion therefore, is to make understandable how common sense and the doctrine "esse est (aut) percipi" could be thought to go together. A further aim is to place Berkeley in the philosophical as well as the scientific contexts of the times in which he developed his philosophical theories. . . . The complete review is:

Haslanger, Sally. "Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone)." HYPATIA (2008)

Why there aren’t more women of my cohort in philosophy? Because there were very few of us and there was a lot of outright discrimination. I think a lot of philosophers aren’t aware of what women in the profession deal with, so let me give some examples. In my year at Berkeley and in the two years ahead of me and two years behind me, there was only one woman each year in a class of 8-10. The women in the two years ahead of me and the two years behind me dropped out, so I was the only woman left in five consecutive classes. In graduate school I was told by one of my teachers that he had “never seen a first rate woman philosophy and never expected to because women were incapable of having seminal ideas.” I was the butt of jokes when I received a distinction on my prelims, since it seemed funny to everyone to suggest I should get a blood test to determine if I was really a woman. In a seminar in philosophical logic, I was asked to give a presentation on a historical figure when none of the other (male) students were, later to learn that this was because the professor assumed I’d be writing a thesis on the history of philosophy. When I was at Penn as a junior faculty member and told a senior colleague that I was going to be married (to another philosopher, Stephen Yablo, then at UM), his response was, “Oh, I’m so sorry we’ll be losing you.” This was in 1989. . . . Read the rest of this essay, which seems to be causing a bit of a stir within staid philosophical circles, here:

Subrahmanyam, Sanjay. "Where Does He Come From [review of Naipaul's latest]?" LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS November 1, 2007

Many people have strong opinions about this Trinidadian expatriate, including the reviewers and interviewers he regularly deals with. The dividing line is essentially political, a fact that might be disquieting for a creative writer. In this respect Naipaul is more like Solzhenitsyn than, say, Joyce, whose appeal can transcend (or confound) traditional political divides. In the case of Naipaul, those on the left, especially defenders of the ‘Third World’ and its hopes, from C.L.R. James and Edward Said to Michael Gilsenan, more or less uniformly find him and his attitudes troubling and sometimes bigoted. He is portrayed as a self-hater and Uncle Tom, a product of the sorts of complex that Frantz Fanon diagnosed. On the other side are the conservative writers – those who might see Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a major intellectual figure – who celebrate Naipaul as an original voice, a writer who provides a searing, politically incorrect indictment of all that is wrong in the modern world: Islam in its various manifestations, the grotesque dictatorships of Africa, the squalor and self-inflicted misery of much of the Third World, the failure everywhere of projects of métissage between the West and non-West. A few fence-sitters meanwhile play down the significance of his non-fiction and praise his fiction, his pared-down style and capacity to write precise, economical, somewhat repetitive English. Naipaul is a prototype that has now been cloned many times over in the Indian subcontinent: the fiction writer who is also a travel writer. One can see why Pankaj Mishra may read and review Naipaul with an Oedipal frisson. Vatermord or ancestor worship? It can be a hard choice. Read the rest here:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Anderson, Kevin B. "Thinking about Fromm and Marxism." LOGOS 6.3 (2007)

Erich Fromm’s work is unfortunately neglected in academia today, in no small part because his expansive humanism is out of joint with many forms of radical thought popular in those quarters. In addition, university psychology and psychiatry departments have almost completely excluded Freudians or psychoanalysts of any kind, which leaves no room for Fromm there either. Among the larger educated public in the U.S. and Germany, however, Fromm continues to be read widely, as can be seen in sales of his work. Many assign his writings in college and even high school courses. I have used his Escape from Freedom (1941) for years as a main text in an introduction to sociology course. Students, whose response has been very favorable, encounter therein a clear and engaging introduction to social theory (Marx, Weber, and Freud), to the transition from feudalism to capitalism in Europe, to the anatomy of fascism and authoritarianism, and to a critique of the atomization of modern capitalist civilization and its culture industry. . . . Read the rest here:

Funk, Rainer. "Life and Work of Erich Fromm." LOGOS 6.3 (2007)

Fromm's main interest is in the libidinal structure of the human being as a socialized being. Thus it is mainly a question of those passionate strivings and the unconscious of the socialized individual, as these factors make themselves evident when the unconscious of society is itself the object of study. Then there is a libidinous structure of society, which can be recognized as independent from the socioeconomic situation, since the life experience of the group is determined by the economic, social and political conditions. This means that society has not only a certain economic, social, political and intellectual-cultural structure, but also a libidinal one specific to it. When Fromm embraced the idea of a socially molded unconscious or an unconscious of society by which each individual is to a large extent predetermined, he defined the correlation of individual and society anew. It was no longer valid to say "here I am and there is society;" but rather, "I am primarily a reflection of society, in that my unconscious is socially determined and I therefore reflect and realize the secret expectations, requirements, wishes, fears, and strivings of society in my own passionate strivings." In reality, none of the following—not the apparent separation of society and individual, not the apparent separation of conscious and unconscious, not the apparent separation of society and unconscious--actually exist. All of these dimensions are in the social unconscious of every single human being. . . . Read the rest here:

Paparella, Emanuel L. "Edward Said on Cultural Imperialism." OVI September 24, 2007

While writing a Ph.D. dissertation on Vico at Yale University, some thirty three years ago, a book appeared which attracted my attention. But it was not its author, still relatively obscure at the time, rather it was its title which urged me to buy Beginnings by Edward Said. To my mind, that title echoed immediately Vico’s notion of 'origins.' And in fact, as expected, Said not only acknowledges Vico as the book’s inspiration and methodology, but dedicates a whole section to him. It turned out to be a kind of epiphany for me, in the same way that Ignazio Silone had previously been, not so much for what the book revealed about the problematic in the New Science that I was then grappling with (i.e., that of transcendence and immanence in Vico’s notion of Providence), but for what it said on the crucial role of the intellectual vis-à-vis the culture he lives and works in. One of the most pregnant passages in that book is this: “The writer’s life, his career, and his text, form a system of relationships whose configuration "in real human time" becomes progressively stronger (i.e., more distinct, more individualized and exacerbated). In fact, these relationships gradually become the writer’s all-encompassing subject” (p. 227). . . . Part 1:; Part 2:

Parker, Ian. "Review of THE PARALLAX REVIEW." EPHEMERA 7.3 (2007)

In the course of the book, as Žižek guides us through domains of philosophy and social theory holding to the red thread of ‘parallax’ to undermine all claims to unity of perspective, we are still left with one key parallax that haunts his own writing. The term ‘parallax’, which Žižek borrows from Kōjin Karatani (a revolutionary Japanese theorist of the specific necessary antinomy between the economic and the political in Kant and Marx), is deployed time and again to account for disparities between different theoretical accounts. The spatial, temporal and erotic modes of parallax (outlined on page 10) are intriguing and productive ways of extrapolating from Karatani’s original conception, but we are very quickly drawn into exorbitant claims that the ‘act’ operates in a ‘parallax gap’ between the aesthetic and the religious and then that Christ occupies the parallax gap between God and man (on page 105). . . . The rest is here:

Bateman, R. Benjamin. "The Future of Queer Theory: on Lee Edelman's No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive." MINNESOTA DRIVE 65-66 (2007)

Gaining credibility as a queer theorist, it appears, necessitates the assumption of increasingly radical, and at times counterintuitive, political positions. Such extremity finds full expression in Lee Edelman's polemic, No Future. Subtitled Queer Theory and the Death Drive, the book argues that politics as we know it relies upon a future-oriented logic that is indissociably intertwined with heterosexuality and with what Edelman terms "reproductive futurism." On Edelman's reading, the face of the child, epitomized by Dickens's Tiny Tim, coerces us—through conjuring our compassion—into subordinating our present wants and enjoyments to the always-deferred, future needs of 'innocent' children. Tim's vulnerability turns vindictive, Edelman proceeds, when conservatives use 'protecting children' as a pretext for discriminating against gays and lesbians. Nowhere is this disguised homophobia more apparent than in recent 'arguments' against gay marriage. . . . Read the rest here:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Abaunza, George. "Review of AN INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION by Robin Barrow and Ronald Woods." METAPSYCHOLOGY September 25, 2007

It is likely that there are just as many definitions or explanations of the nature of philosophy as there are philosophers. As a philosophy of education instructor I confess that this is just as likely when it comes to the myriad ways we might approach the study of education with our students. For instance, one might take an historical approach, rather than the thematic-analytic one offered here by Barrow and Woods. Yet, there is one thing anyone who has a stake in education, regardless of philosophical bent, ought to share in common; an unabashed concern for analytical rigor in the ways we conceptualize 'education' or what it means to 'be educated'. Without such clarity we cannot be said to be truly 'thinking' about education, let alone drawing consistent conclusions from empirical studies that first take their shape from these very conceptions. . . . Read the rest here:

Rehmann, Jan. "Deleuze and Foucault: Towards a Deconstruction of Postmodernist Neo-Nietzscheanism." SITUATIONS 2.1 (2007)

THE FACT THAT postmodernist theories emerged from left-wing interpretations of Nietzsche is, in itself, hardly disputed, nor the position that Deleuze and Foucault played a crucial role in this process. Although what is lacking in the debates is the question of how, in the 1960s and 1970s, Deleuze and Foucault managed to make Nietzsche into a compelling reference point for leftist and alternative milieus. I will offer here some reflections on this contemporary moment. Initially, I will take a historical look at how certain kinds of 'leftist Nietzscheanism' came into being and how they succeeded to 'superannuate'a Marxist critique of capitalism. Taking Gilles Deleuze as a chief example, I will demonstrate that his reading of Nietzsche is itself a highly ideological construction that needs therefore to be 'deconstructed' — thus turning a key postmodernist concept on postmodernism itself. Secondly, I will show with the example of Foucault’s concept of power that the neo-Nietzschean superannuation of Marxism meant a significant theoretical loss, a step back in several respects. My assumption is, in a nutshell, that postmodernist theories, in so far as they found themselves on a watered-down Nietzscheanism, have generated various kinds of hyper-radical rhetoric while diluting the analytical foundations of a serious critique of class and gender domination. Finally, I try to demonstrate postmodernism’s tendency to de-materialize social life with the examples of the body, gender relations, and the concept of 'immaterial labor,' and draw some tentative conclusions for a deconstructive and reconstructive critique. . . . Read the whole essay here:

Aronowitz, Stanley. "The Ignored Philosopher and Social Theorist: the Work of Henri Lefebvre." SITUATIONS 2.1 (2007)

THE ANGLO-AMERICAN reception of Henri Lefebvre (1901-1991) is a classic case of mis-recognition. Although he has been called a sociologist, an urbanist, and a social theorist, he has rarely been understood as a philosopher. The recently translated third volume of the Critique of Everyday Life should correct past impressions, not only because Lefebvre himself subtitles the book 'Toward a meta-philosophy of everyday life,' but the work makes original contributions to philosophy. It is not excessive to claim that he is the ecophilosopher of the 21st century, for he made the connection between the massive despoiling of the global ecosystems, the new shape of social time and social space and the struggle for the transformation of everyday life which, he claims, is the key to the project of changing life and repairing our collective relationship to nature. Lefebvre’s creative work spanned most of the 20th century and after World War II, he was a leading French intellectual who wrote on a wide array of subjects that transgressed the disciplines, especially the relation of philosophy to the social sciences and art. He also argued against the confinement of knowledge by disciplinary conventions. For decades marxists, sociologists and others in the social sciences and philosophy ignored him, not mainly because most of his writing remained un-translated but because he could not be easily classified within the existing disciplinary predispositions. And he suffered a paradoxical fate: during the Cold War era as a Marxist he was excluded from mainstream commentary in the US by an academic establishment that was incapable of distinguishing between dogma and creativity. When his writing was appropriated at all it had to fit narrowly into the conventions of the disciplines and as a result he was classified most comfortably as a sociologist, a designation that inevitably distorted the substance of his work. . . . Read the rest here:

Cevasco, Maria Elisa. "Review of Frederic Jameson's ARCHAEOLOGIES OF THE FUTURE." SITUATIONS 2.1 (2007)

THE LATEST BOOK by Fredric Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: the Desire Called Utopia, is more than a powerful intervention on the studies of a somewhat ignored literary genre. It is a statement on the function of Utopia in the present; and as such, it acquires great political significance for those of us on the Left who are in search for, to quote the name of this journal, a project for the radical imagination in our dire times. . . . The rest is here:

Szekely, Michael. "Rethinking Benjamin: the Function of the Utopian Ideal." CULTURAL LOGIC (2006)

Sustaining a general engagement with Walter Benjamin has proven to be an endless discovery of philosophical, as well as poetical, perspectives. However, adding the theme of utopia to the discourse presents yet another dimension -- one that, paradoxically, combines philosophy and poetics explicitly, and yet with great complexity. Exemplary of this are Benjamin's views regarding "utopia," a theme that figures somewhat multi-directionally in his overall philosophical montage (this latter being Benjamin's preferred method of theoretical exploration and discovery). On the one hand, utopia is an underlying aspect of his project, one crucial aspect among many. On the other hand, utopia might be said to be the over-arching aspect of his project, the ultimate goal to which all of his work adhered. Moreover, the possibility of utopia is seen as potentially both at hand -- i.e., existing immanently in the stories and products of material culture -- and latent, until activated within something of a collective unconscious laden with scattered dreams and wishes unfulfilled. . . . Read the rest here:

Levinson, Sanford. "Slavery and the Phenomenology of Torture." SOCIAL RESEARCH (2007)

For many, torture is at least as evil as slavery. Yet we have learned, over the past five years especially, that for many Americans the presumed overarching good of maintaining our national security takes precedence over the plight of those subjected to highly coercive, even tortuous, means of interrogation. As with slavery, exceedingly problematic modes of interrogation are being integrated into the warp and woof of our present legal order. And, as with slavery, the possibility of terminating the practice is viewed by many Americans, when all is said and done, as potentially more harmful than maintaining it, with all of its acknowledged costs. I believe, though, that the most direct reason to look at torture through the prism provided by a 150-year-old case involving chattel slavery is that the most fundamental legal and moral issues raised by slavery and torture are astonishingly similar. Both ultimately raise issues of "sovereignty"--that is, the possession of absolute and unconstrained power--and, therefore, the challenge to "sovereignty" that is implicit in any liberal notion of limited government. Both Dred Scott and those who defend torture today ask us if we believe that there are indeed categories of persons who quite literally have "no rights" that the rest of us are "bound to respect."

Read the rest here:

Van Nyhuis, Alison. "Review of Mimi Sheller's CONSUMING THE CARIBBEAN." ANTHURIUM 4.1 (2006)

The Caribbean has become one of the most discussed locations in the burgeoning field of postcolonial studies. But as Mimi Sheller notes in her introduction to Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies, even though prominent postcolonial theorists such as Edward Said have used the writings and lives of people like Franz Fanon to reconsider the Caribbean’s exclusion from historical and sociological narratives of Western modernity, many Europeans and North Americans still do not know how their own lives, nations, and histories are related to the Caribbean. With Consuming the Caribbean, Sheller complements recent Caribbean research that focuses on colonial resistance and Caribbean agency by analyzing Europeans’ and North Americans’ consumption of the Caribbean. . . . Read the rest here:

Cahill, Lara. "Review of Alison Donnell's TWENTIETH CENTURY CARIBBEAN LITERATURE." ANTHURIUM 5.1 (2007)

Alison Donnell’s Twentieth-Century Caribbean Literature: Critical Moments in Anglophone Literary History, published by Routledge in 2006, constructs a critical historiography of what she coins as Anglocreole Caribbean literature and criticism in order to fully engage with the pivotal challenges that the twenty-first century presents. Donnell, a reader in Postcolonial and English Literatures at Nottingham Trent University and the Joint Editor of Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, organizes her study into four chapters, three of which explore the most influential critical trends of the second half of the twentieth century and a fourth that anticipates the goals of twenty-first century Caribbean literary criticism. Donnell delicately manages her critique of each of these important moments by thoroughly assessing their value and their relationship to previous debates. She not only interrogates and examines critical approaches to Caribbean literature, but she also conducts close readings of undervalued texts to illuminate new directions within and beyond these established schematics. Her point is ultimately to encourage new thinking on old subjects. . . . More here:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Vallely, Paul. "Terry Eagleton: Class Warrior." INDEPENDENT October 13, 2007

The solutions of Marxism may not long find favour. There would be few in the modern world who would buy Eagleton's political prescription "Get out of Nato. Get rid of capitalism. Put the economy back into public ownership". But the follow-the-money analytical template at the heart of Marxian analysis remains as apt now as it ever was. Eagleton may not have the right answers but he still asks the right questions. . . . Read the rest here:

Brown, Jonathan. "Amis Launches Scathing Response to Accusations of Islamophobia." THE INDEPENDENT October 12, 2007

When you write that I am 'with the beasts' on Islamic questions, it is because you've been listening, rather dreamily perhaps, to Professor Terry Eagleton. Now Eagleton, Yasmin, has a chair at Manchester University, where I have recently taken up an enjoyable post, and he is a man of a redundant but familiar type: an ideological relict, unable to get out of bed in the morning without the dual guidance of God and Karl Marx. More remarkably, he combines a cruising hostility with an almost neurotic indifference to truth; on the matter of checking his facts, he is, to be frank, an embarrassment to the academic profession. But his human need is simple enough: he wants attention to be paid to his self-righteousness – righteousness being his particular brand of vanity. It is a dull business, correcting Eagleton's distortions, but this is the work he is obliging me to do. The anti-Muslim measures he says I 'advocated' I merely adumbrated, not 'in an essay' ('he wrote', 'wrote Amis' – each of these is an untruth), but in a long interview with the press. . . . The rest is here: (Thanks to Rob Leyshon for the link.)

"Moved by the Past," Centre for Metahistory, University of Groningen, September 27-28, 2007.

The point of departure for the colloquium will be Hayden White’s remark that it is important ‘to understand what is fictive in all putatively realistic representations of the world, and what is realistic in all manifestly fictive ones.’ In the past decades only the first half of this project has been taken up: Whitean representationalism can be regarded as a research strategy to understand the fictionality of texts that claim to offer realistic representations of the world. The representationalism of the past decades thus is an elaboration of the Kantian project of understanding how the subject ‘prefigures’ its object. It has, in fact, become o ne of the idées reçus of postmodern times: in our reaching out to the world we prefigure what eventually we come to know of it. In our colloquium we will, however, address the second part of White’s exhortation – how reality can be said to be ‘present’ in fictive, or, better: ‘authored’ representations of the world. Our focus will be on the past, on, more specifically, the question how an unacknowledged past can be said to be present in ‘history’ – in history as historia rerum gestarum as well as in history as it is being made in real life. One of the characters in W.G. Sebald’s novel Austerlitz says: ‘Our concern with history is a concern with pre-formed images already imprinted on our brains, images at which we keep staring while the truth lies elsewhere, away from it all, somewhere as yet undiscovered.’ In our colloquium we will address the questions where this ‘elsewhere, away from it all’ might be situated, how it may be said to contain the ‘truth’ of the past, and how the unacknowledged past that hides in this ‘elsewhere’ may ‘move’ us into experiencing, yes doing things that are at odds with the identities we celebrate in how we represent our world. More information may be found here:

Brink, David. "Mill's Moral and Political Philosophy." STANFORD ENCYLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was the most famous and influential British moral philosopher of the nineteenth century. He was one of the last systematic philosophers, making significant contributions in logic, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and social theory. He was also an important public figure, articulating the liberal platform, pressing for various liberal reforms, and serving in Parliament. Mill's greatest philosophical influence was in moral and political philosophy, especially his articulation and defense of utilitarian moral theory and liberal political philosophy. This entry will examine Mill's moral and political philosophy selectively, reconstructing the central elements of his contributions to the utilitarian and liberal traditions. We will concentrate on his two most popular and best known works — Utilitarianism (1861) and On Liberty (1859) — though we will draw on other texts when this sheds light on our interpretation of his utilitarian and liberal principles. We will conclude by looking at how Mill applies these principles to issues of political and sexual equality in Considerations on Representative Government (1859), Principles of Political Economy (1848), and The Subjection of Women (1869). . . . More here:

Tearse, Graham. "Love Letter that Sealed a Death Pact [Another Existentialist Lovestory]." GUARDIAN October 7, 2007.

"Sometimes, at night, I see the silhouette of a man walking behind a hearse along an empty road in a deserted landscape,' wrote Gorz. 'I am that man. I don't want to attend your cremation, I don't want to receive your ashes in a bowl." . . . The rest is here:,,2185461,00.html.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

CONF: "Bergson's CREATIVE EVOLUTION, 100 Years On: Biology, Ecology, Complexity," Department of Philosophy, University of Warwick, November 10, 2007.

Our conference on Henri Bergson's Creative Evolution will take place on Saturday the 10th of November at the University of Warwick. Although the work of a philosopher, its reaches are far wider. Bergson not only pleaded for evolution as a field of interdisciplinary study, in fact this work is itself part of it. The book is deeply infused with what were then the latest developments in evolution, Lamarckism, neo-Darwinism and cytology. Published one hundred years ago in 1907, Creative Evolution presented a sophisticated alternative to mechanistic evolutionary theory, greatly expanding the field of biological research beyond the neo-Darwinian emphasis on genetics. This pioneering yet neglected text opened the way for the development of both ecology and complexity theory during the twentieth century. It emphasized the importance of studying the evolution of ecosystems as well as individual species and it developed a general model of the emergence and self-organization of living systems. Speaking at the conference are all people with both a strong interest in Bergson and the natural sciences. The conference is grouped around the three central themes of Biology, Ecology and Complexity. Rather than having a number of quite separate presentations the speakers have been actively encouraged to discuss each other's texts. Speaking at the conference: Keith Ansell Pearson (University of Warwick) Paul-Antoine Miquel (University of Nice) Miguel De Bestegui (University of Warwick) Pete Gunter (University of North Texas) John Pickering (University of Warwick) Brian Goodwin (Schumacher College) Robin Durie (University of Exeter) For more information and to register please follow the link below:

Friday, October 12, 2007

"Telling the Past Now: Historiographies for the 21st Century," University of Aarhus, November 22-24, 2007.

This conference will bring together leading historians from a number of different fields in an interdisciplinary effort to discuss the challenges, possibilities and ways of writing history now and for the future. Participants will engage state of the art debates and problematics concerning the conceptualization and execution of historical writing on a wide range of topics including politics, theory, culture, things, images, narrative, cognition, public perceptions, biographies, gender, place and forgetting. The conference will combine two days of invited keynote lectures with a day of workshops for PhD students. The conference is now open for registration. Sponsors:
  • Danish Research School for Philosophy, History of Ideas and History of Science;
  • Danish Research School for History, Faculty of Humanities, University of Aarhus;
  • Department of History and International Studies and the Department of Languages and Culture, Aalborg University.
Registration is open until November 1. Conference homepage and registration: .

Strange Maps: John Bull Bombarding France with Bum-Boats

Unusual, to say the least. See the map here:

Heartfield, James. "New Left, Old Pessimism." MUTE October 10, 2007

In Duncan Thompson’s book, Pessimism of the Intellect: A History of the New Left Review, he painstakingly reconstructs the journal’s long-term engagement with the British left from its reconstitution after the Prague Spring right up until today. Despite the intra-left skirmishes and role reversals it relates the bigger picture that emerges, writes James Heartfield, is of the British left’s historical inability to act. . . . Read the review here:

Eagleton, Terry. "Rebuking Obnoxious Views is not just a Personality Kink." GUARDIAN October 10, 2007

If they cannot find a flaw in your reasoning, the great radical William Hazlitt wrote, they will certainly find one in your reputation. In his usual intellectually slovenly style, Rod Liddle accuses Marxists such as myself of supporting 'Islamism,' despite the fact that blowing the heads off little children in the name of Allah was not exactly what Marx had in mind. Amis's panic-stricken reaction to 9/11 is part of a wider hysteria that has swept over sections of the liberal left, one to which creative writers seem particularly prone. . . . Read the rest here:,,2187361,00.html.

"The Ageing Punk of Lit Crit still Knows how to Spit: a Profile of Terry Eagleton." TIMES October 7, 2007

Eagleton used to be known as the closest thing to the Sex Pistols in British scholarship. With his attack on Amis he proves he can still spit with the best of them. . . . More here:

Sutherland, John. "Eagleton v Amis: an Academic Storm." GUARDIAN October 4, 2007

If the most authoritative political voice on campus labels a colleague (albeit on the rhetorical rebound) a bigot and a racist, is that colleague's position tenable? Can Amis, with Eagleton's taunts bouncing off the classroom wall, competently teach classes in which there will be Muslims, Jews, gays and women? What should his response be: dignified silence? Eloquent refutation? Beautiful indifference? Disgusted resignation? Protest to the Senate? Is Eagleton too big a beast on campus to be reprimanded for uncollegial conduct - if that is felt necessary by the university authorities? Or perhaps they agree with their professor of cultural theory. . . . Read more here:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Butler, Nick. "The Management of Population: Review of Foucault's Security, Territory, Population." EPHEMERA 7.3 (2007)

The ongoing publication of the entire set of lecture courses which Foucault gave between 1971 and 1984 at the Collège de France have so far proved to be essential companions to his better known works. Security, Territory, Population – the fifth installment in a total series of thirteen, covering the period from January to April 1978 – is no exception. It provides a compelling glimpse into Foucault’s research at a time when his intellectual interests were shifting in dramatic ways. . . . Read the rest here:

Zuidervaart, Lambert. "Introduction." SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY AFTER ADORNO. Cambridge: CUP, 2007.

I remember well the month when I began to read Theodor W. Adorno’s Ästhetische Theorie. It was May 1977, during a lovely spring in Toronto. Joyce and I were house-sitting for a professor of political philosophy. In the quiet of someone else’s study, surrounded by books that were not my own, I began to read Adorno’s impenetrable, compelling, evocative German prose. Some days I made little headway. Other days I found myself swept along by the drama of the text, yet unable to tell anyone else where I had been or what I had learned. Gradually, however, I began to glimpse the submerged dialectical structures that sustain Adorno’s thought. . . . Read the rest of the introduction:

Reviews of BERLIN CHILDHOOD AROUND 1900 by Walter Benjamin

Reviews of Berlin Childhood around 1900 by Walter Benjamin may be found:

Worrell, Mark P. "The Other Frankfurt School." FAST CAPITALISM 2.1 (2006)

During the 1960s and 1970s the work of the ISR was rediscovered by the New Left and campus radicals. But what was recovered as the 'Frankfurt School' was but a one-sided caricature of the Institute. . . . More here:

Strathausen, Carsten. "Moving On: Review of Philip Goldstein's Post-Marxist Theory." MINNESOTA REVIEW 65-66 (2007)

Phil Goldstein's book Post-Marxist Theory not only introduces the work of many leading theorists today, but also outlines the major philosophical and political faultlines that separate them. Moreover, Goldstein does not limit himself to the realm of political philosophy, but also considers aesthetics and the current status of cultural studies. In short, Post-Marxist Theory is a comprehensive attempt to delineate the contours of contemporary leftist thought in philosophy, politics, and culture. This ambitious scope poses two major methodological challenges. For one, there is the danger of folding the complexity and internal tensions that exist within the work of a particular author into to a single, overall thesis or a series of unambiguous statements to make the ideas more manageable. Goldstein's book doesn't succumb to this danger. He is always careful to distinguish between the different phases and contexts of Foucault's materialism, Althusser's distinction between science and ideology, or Laclau's and Mouffe's notion of hegemony. Goldstein's own writing demonstrates the degree to which post-Marxist theory still holds fast to a materialist approach of reading that emphasizes the historical dimension of abstract thought. Goldstein also steers clear of the opposite problem that haunts many comprehensive overviews of contemporary theory, namely the lack of a clear perspective. He advocates a Foucaultian inspired, institutional form of post-Marxism as the most promising avenue for leftist politics today. . . . More here:

Roberts, Moss. "A Brief Review of the Work of Professor Noam Chomsky." ZNET CHINA September 14, 2007

As a scholar of linguistics, Professor Chomsky is one of the founders of a school called generative transformational grammar. This school of linguistic research and analysis develops the theory that the power to acquire and utilize language is inborn and found only in humans. This theory rejects the idea that the capacity to learn and produce language develops only mechanically through external conditioning. A child's speech does not simply imitate what has been heard. Rather, external conditioning is actively received and worked upon as the mind (renxin) grows and develops the ability to generate new ideas and new sentences. The mind is the principal agent, the creative factor. By the age of five or six the result of this process is the basic mastery of a language, the ability to transform "finite words and rules" into, as Barsky says, "an infinite number of sentences." The process unfolds throughout life. . . . More here:

Cohen, Mitchell. "The New Atheism: an Interview." DISSENT Fall 2007 Issue

But left-wing illiberalism has also been a catastrophe—both in economic and cultural matters—and it betrays what has always been best in left-wing thinking. I say this as a person of the left. We shouldn’t forget that parts of the left have acted just like religious fanatics. Think of Leninists (and, of course, Stalinists) with an infallible doctrine (“the science of society”), organized like a church, purging now and then, persecuting non-believers (whether social democratic or Christian or whatever). I don’t see a whole lot of difference between the mind-set of left-wing sects who believe that the whole world would be set aright if everyone could just grasp properly the entirety of their theories, just put them exactly in place, and the statement in early July by the Pope that Orthodox and Protestant Christianity are not “true” forms of Christianity. Years ago I wrote a book on Lucien Goldmann, the remarkable Romanian-French Marxist humanist who advocated a liberal – rather than an orthodox -- socialism back in the 1950s and 1960s, arguing also that the left should be heir to the best ideas of liberalism like tolerance, respect for the individual and equality before the law. His chef d’oeuvre, a book entitled The Hidden God, examined the world-views of Pascal and Racine in the context of religious, economic and political change. When I read his description of the sects within Jansenism, the Augustinian movement in seventeenth century France, I remember being struck by the comparison with Bolshevik sects of the 1920s (but also some left-wing groupuscules—Maoist, Trotskyist, etc.—that I came across in the U.S. in the late 1960s and early 1970s). Left-wing illiberalism is not just a matter of some left-over believers of old style Marxist orthodoxies. It also animates important segments of the post-modern left. A prime example of this is Antonio Negri who tells us (together with Michael Hardt, his co-author of Empire) that there is a liberating global “multitude” whose “body” can “configure itself as a telos.” This quasi-religious language—please, save us from it!—is really a post-modern reinvention of tiers-mondisme, a failed left-wing doctrine that provided illusions but not much help for the difficult, painful problems of the Third World. It is no wonder that Negri describes Khomeini’s victory in Iran as “the first postmodernist revolution.” Negri’s works have been best sellers on US campuses. Notably, this has been after some two decades in which right-wing religiosity inserted itself so forcefully into the American scene—and at a time when secular, liberal, and social democratic intellectuals were relatively weak (actually, they still are). Negri also needs to be demystified. The American left needs stronger unions that are appropriate to today’s social and economic life—not imaginary multitudes substituting for older Marxist notions of the working class. The same goes globally.If someone tells you that Islamic extremists are part of a “liberating” multitude because they are against imperialism, remind them that some folks in an earlier generation of leftists were quite able to be anti-imperialist and also to be against the Stalin-Hitler pact. They didn’t need hundreds of pages of theoretical delirium to figure it out. And remember that there were leftists whose theoretical hallucinations led them to imagine that the Second World War was little more than a reprise of conflicts among imperialists. I say that despite the fact that I think it is a mistake to make today’s Islamic extremists simply a function of totalitarianism, as if they are the same sort of phenomenon as Hitler or Stalin. They certainly are totalitarian in many ways, but I question the use of 'totalitarianism' as a master-category. It’s too easy. Nonetheless, I am struck at how parts of the extreme left apologize for Islamic extremism in ways reminiscent of how an earlier generation found ways to apologize for Stalinism. The objects excused are different but the patterns of apologetics are sadly similar. . . . More here:

Nobel Prize in Literature Awarded to Doris Lessing

For further details, go here:

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Paglia, Camille. "Crisis in the American Universities." MIT September 19, 1991.

Thank you, Professor Manning, for that most gracious introduction. And may I say what a pleasure it is to be here, a mere stone's throw from Harvard. I address you tonight after several sex changes and a great deal of ambiguity over sexual orientation over twenty-five years. I am the Sixties come back to haunt the present. Now, speaking here at M.I.T. confronted me with a dilemma. I asked myself, should I try to act like a lady? I can do it. It's hard, it takes a lot out of me, I can do it for a few hours. But then I thought, Naw. These people, both my friends and my enemies who are here, aren't coming to see me act like a lady. So I thought I'd just be myself--which is, you know, abrasive, strident, and obnoxious. So then you can all go outside and say, "What a bitch!" Now, the reason I'm getting so much attention: I think it's pretty obvious that we're in a time where there's a kind of impasse in contemporary thinking. And what I represent is independent thought. What I represent is the essence of the Sixties, which is free thought and free speech. And a lot of people don't like it. A lot of people who are well-meaning on both sides of the political spectrum want to shut down free speech. And my mission is to be absolutely as painful as possible in every situation. . . . Read the rest here: (Thanks to Rob Leyson.)

Asma, Stephen T. "Looking Up From the Gutter: Philosophy and Popular Culture." CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION October 12, 2007

In 2001, Open Court published The Simpsons and Philosophy. I think I received six or seven copies for Christmas that year. Other philosophy professors I know (and there aren't many, since we're all loners) received a similar glut of "the Simpsons book." Friends and relatives, who had long struggled to have any way of relating to my field of expertise, finally had some gesture of bonding. . . .

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Williams, Ian. "An Ex-Maoist Looks at an Ex-Troskyist: on Irving Howe's LEON TROTSKY." LOGOS 6.3 (2007)

A quarter of a century after Howe's biography, six decades after Trotsky's death, and ten years after the curtain came down finally on the Bolshevik experiment, things can be seen in a different light. Trotsky's role "on the stage of modern history" has shrunk into perspective. He lost the arguments in the Soviet Union: capitalism did not collapse catastrophically, the industrial proletariat in the world did not move to revolution. The reformers and social democrats he despised built societies that, even after Thatcherism and the Third Way, still offer workers and other citizens more in the way of prosperity, freedom, civil, political and social rights, than any other societies that have existed on the face of the earth. . . . Read the rest here:

Appleyard, Brian. "A Response to Atheists, Materialists." PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER Spetember 30, 2007

Neuroscience is a combat zone. It is here, in the human brain, that the final conflict between materialism and, to invent a word, soulism is being fought. For materialists, the outcome is not in doubt. Our minds, our selves, our awareness are merely the outcome of the electrical activity of the few pounds of hyperconnected matter between our ears. All claims to the contrary are wishful thinking or superstitious remnants. But the materialists have two problems. . . . Read more here:

Jack, Ian. "A Way in the World." PROSPECT 139 October 2007

As Diana Athill, Naipaul's first editor, has written elsewhere, Naipaul was "a man raised in, and frightened by, a somewhat disorderly, inefficient and self-deceiving society, who therefore longed for order, clarity and competence." And so, according to Athill, he "overvalued a sense of history and respect for tradition, choosing to romanticise their results rather than to see the complex and far from admirable scenes with which they often coexist.'" . . . More here:

Friday, October 05, 2007

McCall, Corey. "Foucault among the Humanists: Review of Eric Paras' Foucault 2.0." OTHER VOICES 3.1 (2007)

Readers of Foucault’s texts have long been perplexed by the apparent shift his writings underwent in the late 1970s. Following the appearance of the first volume of The History of Sexuality (Le volunté de savoir, translated as The History of Sexuality: An Introduction) in 1976, Foucault's investigations inexplicably change focus: from an investigation of the prison and the mechanisms of power that produce the modern individual in Discipline and Punish, the second and third volumes of the History of Sexuality focus on practices of the self in ancient Greece and Rome. Indeed, at the time of his death, Foucault was at work on a fourth volume examining the practices of the self in the Christian era. How does one account for the fact that the thinker who had written in 1966 that the one could "certainly wager that man would be erased, like a face drawn in sand and at the edge of the sea" was suddenly writing about the various practices of the self prevalent in the ancient world, practices that were meant to ensure individual freedom and autonomy? This, after all, was the thinker that had famously feuded with Jean-Paul Sartre and labeled him an outmoded thinker of systems, better suited for the nineteenth century than the twentieth, who was now writing about themes seemingly much more at home in Existentialist writings than his own anti-humanist ones. . . . More here:

CFP: "Philosophy and Foucault," First Annual Conference, Foucault Circle of Canada, Brock University, March 14, 2008

The Foucault Circle of Canada invites papers for its 1st annual conference to be held at Brock University on March 14, 2008. The theme for the inaugural conference is “Foucault and Philosophy.” Papers which examine any philosophical aspect of Foucault’s thought or oeuvre will be considered. Presenters should be prepared to speak for 20-25 minutes (roughly, 3000-4000 words). A 15 minute discussion period will follow each speaker’s presentation. It is expected that the selection process will be competitive. Only the very best, complete papers will be considered. Papers will be double-blind refereed to ensure scholarly quality. Complete papers, along with a 100 word abstract, may be emailed to either Dr. Brian Lightbody or Dr. Rohit Dalvi of Brock University. Alternatively, papers may be mailed to Dr. Brian Lightbody, Philosophy Department, Brock University, 500 Glenridge Avenue, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2S 3A1. Please prepare papers for blind review (no identifying information of any kind should be mentioned in the submission). Deadline for papers is December 15th 2007. The conference programme will be made up shortly thereafter.

Aviv, Rachel. "Hobson’s Choice: Can Freud's Theory of Dreams Hold Up against Modern Neuroscience?" THE BELIEVER October 2007

For many years, there were often just two scientists represented in Intro to Psychology textbooks: Hobson and Freud. Hobson cultivates his reputation as the “Anti-Freud”—he’s even published an essay in which he pretends to be Freud congratulating Hobson on his work. Only recently have scientists begun challenging Hobson’s sweeping dismissal of psychoanalysis with actual neuroscience. His success (people called his lab the “Dream Team”) is due in part to his charisma and PR skills. He speaks with sanguine authority, announcing that he will save psychiatry, that we must objectify the subjective, that psychoanalytic theory makes us lazy babies: “It’s too comforting, like the Bible. It makes you brain-dead.” . . . More found here:

Roth, Michael S. "Review of THE DEATH OF SIGMUND FREUD by Mark Edmundson." LOS ANGELES TIMES September 23, 2007.

More than 150 years after his birth, Sigmund Freud still haunts us. His ideas creep into our language like a symptom, or like an unconscious desire. Sometimes it's all in fun, as when Brian, the thoughtful canine on Fox's Family Guy, wondered with the therapist if his wetting the floor was an act of aggression. Sometimes it's to deepen our engagement with a narrative, as happened to Tony Soprano, in HBO's The Sopranos, when he tried, with the help of his therapist, Dr. Melfi, to understand what it meant to be abandoned by your sister and to inherit the burdens left by your mother. Freud was declared dead in a 2005 cover story in Newsweek; the following year, the magazine ran another piece on the "debunked doctor," declaring him an "inescapable force." Freud just won't disappear, and Mark Edmundson's The Death of Sigmund Freud offers a compelling redescription of why the founder of psychoanalysis retains his relevance today. . . . Read the rest here:,0,4392115.story?coll=la-books-center

Acampora, Christa Davis. "The End of Nietzsche Studies." DANSK NIETZSCHE FORUM 1 (2006)

The purpose of this polemic is to trace the trajectory of Nietzsche studies in the postwar United States. I shall give a pseudo-Hegelian account of this history, since I shall describe the development in terms of monumental shifts in opposing directions, ultimately ending when these differences are aufgehoben—synthesized, canceled, overcome. I see this end to Nietzsche studies as inevitable, and only hope to hasten its arrival, since I shall argue that the forces accounting for this development have been exhausted. Nietzsche studies will churn on, no doubt, but the core concerns that have been driving its growth have reached their logical conclusion. The end of Nietzsche studies has far-reaching consequences. The synthesis I anticipate promises to bridge an increasingly growing gap in the Nietzsche literature and philosophical studies generally between those who consider philosophy to consist in the analysis of very specific problems or puzzles (and either solving or dissolving them) and those who consider philosophy to consist in identifying and vivifying the grandest, most intractable, but most significant problems that human beings can ask. The end of this history suggests some ways of combining the approaches of those driven to naturalize philosophy in every way possible with those who are inclined to see philosophy as in some respects like literature or art. . . . The rest may be found here:

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Kachra, Karen. "Review of Vicki Kirby's Judith Butler: Live Theory." NDPR October 3, 2007

Whatever their shortcomings, Butler's texts have proven powerfully evocative. Fecund enough to spawn whole sub-disciplines of theory, they have impelled scholars to scrutinize the politics inherent in their theoretical commitments and incited activists to grapple with obstruse French texts. Hers are words to come back to. It is a treat to have Kirby as a guide in this recent contribution to Continuum's Live Theory series. . . . The full review may be found here:

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Deckard, Michael Funk. "Review of Costica Bradatan's THE OTHER BISHOP BERKELEY." METAPSYCHOLOGY ONLINE REVIEWS September 11, 2007

Costica Bradatan . . . avoids . . . contemporary readings of Berkeley. He scarcely mentions Locke or Hume and does not even go so far as to enter any of the contemporary analytical debates regarding Berkeley's thought. In fact, the Berkeley one reads of in Bradatan's book is so other that one scarcely recognizes him: Berkeley the Platonist, Berkeley the modest, Berkeley the alchemist, Berkeley the Utopian. Yet this is certainly a fascinating if not obscure Berkeley. Bradatan claims that, in his book, he wishes "to do justice to the historical truth, as far as this is possible, by pointing to the existence of another Berkeley, as it were, one in general unaccounted for in the mainstream analytic scholarship" (3). The question then that really comes to the fore here is whether Bradatan's way of seeing Berkeley is the real Berkeley. . . . Read more here:

CFP: "Transcendence by Perspective," Seventh Triennial Conference, Kenneth Burke Society, June 29-July 1, 2008

One of the hallmarks of Kenneth Burke’s work is a deep-rooted suspicion of entrenched antagonism, of the bitterly contested either/or. Confronting a Western tradition mired in dualisms, and a social world fractured along binaristic lines, Burke traced these all-too-common symptoms to their source in the human symbolic condition and, not content simply with this diagnosis, he also sought a cure: the disciplined cultivation of transcendence via "ultimate" terms (A Rhetoric of Motives 186-89). As Burke writes in Attitudes Toward History, "When approached from a certain point of view, A and B are ‘opposites.’ We mean by ‘transcendence’ the adoption of another point of view from which they cease to be opposites" (336). Although inspired in part by his reading of Plato, Burke’s vision of transcendence avoids the pitfalls of the transcendental, but instead is grounded solidly in the necessity of our embodied symbolicity. In Burke’s skilled hands, transcendence becomes not the elimination of perspective, of partisanship, but the embrace of transcendence by perspective—because only by rigorously acknowledging the symbolic nature of perspective can we move beyond the stagnant stalemate of reified social, political, and philosophical binaries. . . . Further details on the conference are available here:

CFP: "One or Several Deleuzes?", First International Deleuze Studies Conference, Cardiff University, August 11-13, 2008.

The incredible body of research on Deleuze’s work that has emerged inthe past two decades - well over 130 books and literally thousands of articles - has created asituation in which it is no longer possible for a lone scholar to keep pace with new developmentsin the field. As scholars in disciplines as far flung from each other as musicology, organisational studies, philosophy and cultural studies embrace Deleuze this problem grows ever moreintractable. Compounding matters further, Deleuze scholarship spans most languages. In the process there has appeared a highlycontested variety of Deleuzes - there is the political Deleuze, the apolitical Deleuze, the philosophical Deleuze (who is a Kantian, a Nietzschean, a Spinozist, a Stoic, etc.), the phenomenological Deleuze, the activist Deleuze, and so on. Sponsored bythe journal Deleuze Studies, the aim of this conference is to bring all these Deleuzes into communication. Participants include: Hanjo Berressem, Ronald Bogue, Claire Colebrook, Gary Genosko, Eugene Holland, Dorothea Olkowski, John Protevi, James Williams. The conference is convened by Ian Buchanan, Tim Matts and Aidan Tynan. Send panel proposals and abstracts to Registration, accommodation options and program updates will be posted on the web Graduate Students may also be interested in attending Deleuze Camp 2 -‘When far too much Deleuzeis barely enough!’. Further information is available here: