Critical Resistance: From Poststructuralism to Post-Critique

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Doubtlessly, this cogent exposition of post-critique warrants a full-scale examination and response from a neo-Kantian perspective that lie far beyond the scope of a review.

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Nevertheless, let me close with a couple of remarks formulated from such a point of view. What deserves attention, first of all, is what strikes me as a surprising congruency between many aspects of post-critique and, for example, Habermasian discourse theory. Habermasian discourses are in part designed to be devices of continual self-examination values we hold to be appropriate for us and norms thought to be right for everyone through exposure to the view of others, and their findings are, strictly speaking, tentative and open to re-evaluation.

Thus, the self-reflexivity Hoy calls for is deeply entrenched in this approach.

Fellows | David C. Hoy (‘‘82) | Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University

These correspondences notwithstanding, there remain, of course, important tensions. The issue of normativity is one of them. Why is reversibility power preferable to irreversible asymmetry domination? Because the latter denies freedom, but that just begs the question on what account one ought to take the side of freedom and whether a purely formal definition of it will suffice. Book Reviews they perceive to be excessive immigration? Or, to be more blunt, is the pedophile who engages in sexual acts with minors critically resisting a form of domination, i.

It seems to me that a purely formal response to the question of normativity suggesting that resistance against whatever crystallized form of asymmetry domination is ipso facto critical remains unsatisfactory. However, phronesis that is not informed by weak universalist principles or norms might easily add up to a judgment that simply reproduces contextual biases and prejudices.

At the same time, the notion of a self-conscious phronesis that Hoy derives from Derrida might serve as just one of many examples where neo-Kantians may find post-critique instructive.


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Here, embracing a Derridean phronesis as an alternative starting point, as Hoy suggests, may be more productive. He is the author of Selbstkritik der Moderne. Foucault und Habermas im Vergleich By Janet Afary and Kevin B. When the Shah of Iran was deposed on January 16, , many Western and in particular French intellectuals greeted the event with cautious optimism.

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The massive urban uprising of several million people galvanized by a coalition of secular Marxists, Islamic clerics and leftist nationalists seemed to represent, to onlookers in the West, a significant new type of spontaneous and inclusive collective political movement. However, any enthusiasm for the revolution quickly waned as the coalition of secular and religious forces fell apart rapidly, turning into a form of clerical authoritarianism that was increasingly brutal in its suppression of political and religious opponents, women and other minorities.

Some intellectuals were of course suspicious of the movement even prior to the toppling of the Shah. In the period leading up to the revolution, Foucault visited Iran and met frequently with French and Iranian anti-Shah activists as well as with Khomeini himself during his exile in Paris. The anti-modernist sentiments catalyzed by the curious confluence of religion and leftist thought contravened Marxist stipulations on the necessarily progressive and class nature of revolutionary movement.

The Heideggerian- Orientalist subtext to his own anti-Enlightenment sentiments leads him to set up a simplistic distinction between the modernity and its others where traditional societies — Iran, Tunisia, ancient Greece, pre-capitalist Europe — are reified and held up as some kind of antidote to the problems of the West. Their account of the events leading up to the uprising and its immediate aftermath is lucid and enthralling. This means that, at points, some of their arguments are asserted rather than demonstrated, for example, the rather startling claim that, for Foucault, Khomeini personified a Nietzschean will to power.

This is not the only overstatement that occasionally undermines an otherwise excellent book. There might be an element of truth to this but it is a rather reductive reading of his work that fails to consider his reworking of the critical ethos of the Enlightenment in conjunction with his contemporaneous analysis of neo-liberal techniques of government and his attempt to formulate some notion of resistant agency in the idea of an aesthetics of existence. The Cambridge Companion to Critical Theory. Edited by Fred Rush. It is no easy task to provide a representative picture of a complex intellectual tradition like Critical Theory, but this is exactly what Fred Rush and his team of collaborators set out to do.

Part of the problem is that it is not easy to provide a clear definition of Critical Theory. Narrowly, it refers to several generations of philosophers and social theorists associated with the Frankfurt School, the focus of the present work.

One of the defining moments here is the distinction between critical theory and traditional theory, where the former has the specific practical purpose of seeking human emancipation. In its classical version, Horkheimer sketched emancipation as the attempt to liberate human beings from circumstances of enslavement. Since its inception in the s, Critical Theory in the narrower sense has undergone many changes, both within and between generations. It has become common to divide Critical Theory roughly into three generations. Against this background, Critical Theory could be characterized by a certain diversity and plurality that contribute to its richness, but also pose barriers for understanding and orientation.

The challenge is then, according to Rush, to respect the richness the diverse intellectual influences on Critical Theory as well as the technical vocabulary of each thinker , but also to focus on the core philosophical concerns that are shared by Critical Theory as an intellectual tradition 1—2.

Rush organizes the book in three parts. The first part chapters 1—8 is more historical. Chapters 9—11 are more systematic, dealing with issues such as mass culture, politics, and the relation between Critical Theory and poststructuralism. Finally, there are two chapters 12 and 13 that are also systematic, but with the explicit aim of showing the continued relevance and future prospects of Critical Theory.

Rush opens the more historical part of the compilation with his own contribution on the conceptual grounding of early Critical Theory. Although this is a fine introductory chapter, it tends to be a bit technical and based on well-known material. It is a fine scholarly essay, but does not bring forward anything substantially new about their disagreements In a final sec- tion, Roberts correctly indicates that Dialectic is not merely a pessimistic text, but provides three possible strategies to escape false enlightenment, namely healthy sexuality, justice in the form of the particular, and art 69— In his systematic-historical reconstruction of the concepts of revolution and dialectic in Critical Theory, Raymond Geuss indicates how these concepts especially the former had a hold on European imagination for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries With regard to revolution, Geuss refers to aspects such as radical change, necessity and prediction, directionality, and the role of Marx and Lenin.

Structuralism vs. Post-Structuralism

He first defends philo- sophical aesthetics as a theory of reason, then moves on to explore the complex relationship between Marxism and aesthetics — He then sketches accounts of the double char- acter, nature, and the truth content of art. These classical themes in Adorno indicate for Bernstein a modernist art that fosters conceptions of knowing, reasoning, and acting that go against their rationalized versions.

Moishe Postone focuses on the relation between Critical Theory and political economy, a theme neglected in most of the secondary literature. The issue here is the epochal trans- formation of capitalism in the first part of the twentieth century, which comes down to a supersession of a liberal capitalism by a new bureaucratized or state capitalism — Postone reconstructs the important debates between Pollock, Neumann, and Kirchheimer on state capitalism, law, and the Marxian concept of labor.

Foucault Studies

He ends his contribution with a brief sketch on the transformation of political economy in Critical Theory after — In the last of the historical chapters, Habermas finally makes his entrance. Kenneth Baynes does not use the opportunity to situate Habermas with regard to his forerunners. In the more systematic part of the collection, Simone Chambers provides a fine overview of the issue of politics in Critical Theory.

She begins by stating that it has become common- place to point out that Horkheimer and Adorno have no politics. Hauke Brunkhorst, for his part, discusses the differences between Horkheimer and Adorno, on the one hand, and Habermas, on the other, with regard to contemporary mass culture. With Habermas, the analysis move closer to its Marxist point of departure, toward political democracy and the democratic public sphere 5. Beatrice Hanssen interprets the tension-filled relation between Critical Theory and post- structuralism by considering Habermas and Foucault.

While analyzing concepts such as "power" and "political resistance," David Hoy presents the admiration of both Deleuze and Jacques Derrida for No, rather, he speaks of their admiration of "Herman Melville's character Bartleby" 9. Now, this sort of movement from philosophic text to classic of fiction and back again during, what is ostensibly an attempt to generate insights of application to concrete social and political realities in David Hoy's words, a "current need" is of course simply what contemporary publications of academic philosophers are , so there is hardly any point in quarreling with Hoy about why he forgot the French resistance and spoke instead of Bartlby the Scrivener.

However, to record that one was motivated to write a book on resistance because of contemporary global political events places a burden on even an academic philosopher to venture beyond the customary horizon, and that , unfortunately, David Hoy does not manage to do. Despite this quibble over what may simply have been the author's effort to convince MIT that the book was timely and thus merited publication, it is necessary to conclude with a few remarks about the work as a work of academic philosophy. In this respect, there can be no doubt that Critical Resistance is an excellent book.

For those readers with an interest in the thinkers he treats, from Nietzsche through Foucault, Bourdieu, Levinas, Derrida to Zizek and beyond, the book captures ones interest in the first few pages and keeps ones attention right to the end. The author is uncommonly masterful at presenting difficult theories in clear terms, teasing out the heart of complex debates, and tracing the history and development of the concept of his primary concern, resistance.


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