Book Review: Ripstein’s Force and Freedom

A review of Ripstein’s book on Kant’s political philosophy by Stefan Bird-Pollan:

Though Kant has been enjoying significant critical attention in moral and political philosophy since Rawls published A Theory of Justice almost 40 years ago, Kant’s ideas have only rarely been defended as a whole. The chief problem with Kant’s view, one which Rawls shared with Kant’s immediate successor Hegel, is that the notion of the categorical imperative is essentially too abstract and must be given a more concrete grounding. Constructivism was to be the way of doing this. Rawls thus rejected Kant’s metaphysical argument for morality and replaced it with an intuitive account of our own deep intuitions about justice, to be brought out by the procedure of the original position, later to be refined by the reflective equilibrium. Thus Kantian autonomy was to be cashed out in terms of respect for persons.

Trauma and Philosophy [blog]

I just stumbled across a blog, Trauma and Philosophy, maintained by Frank Seeburger, a philosopher at the U of Denver. It’s quite excellent and includes close readings and brief reactions to a wide range of literature related to trama including Lifton’s book on Nazi doctors, Felman and Laub’s book on trauma, musings on Heidegger, Henry and Nancy, and this is not even close to being exhaustive. Do check it out. Here’s Seeburger’s rationale:

Recently, my thinking and research has come to focus on the intersection of a number of concepts or figures/tropes of diverse provenance but sometimes surprising convergence: (1) ‘trauma,’ in the sense at issue–to cite a definitive example–in Freud and psychoanalysis; (2) ‘event,’ as that term comes to be deployed in the works of such continental European thinkers as Heidegger, Derrida, Badiou, and Žižek; (3) ‘truth,’ as used (some might say abused) within that same European philosophical tradition; (4) ’sovereignty,’ primarily in the political sense at issue in contemporary discussions centering around the recovery of the thought of Carl Schmitt–for example, and especially, in the works of Giorgio Agamben; (5) ‘representation,’ in both the political and the philosophical-literary senses—the ‘image’ of my title; and (6) ‘the political,’ in the sense of that term in which such recent continental European thinkers as Jean-Luc Nancy and Phillipe Lacoue-Labarthe would distinguish between ‘politics’ and ‘the political’.”That nexus of concepts first began to come into focus in my thought in connection with a class I taught at the University of Denver in fall term of 2005. My work on those themes in conjunction with that class soon resulted in an article which has since been published online in The Electronic Book Review (“9/11 Never Happened, President Bush Wouldn’t Let It: Bob Dylan Replies to Henri Bergson”). Since that time, I have continued to work with the interconnections of the concepts involved. Then, in December of last year, I resumed, after a long gap, the practice of keeping a regular “philosophical journal,” more or less restricting my entries to recording my responses to what I was reading at the time in the relevant literature on trauma, a literature which I have been continuing to explore to the present. Continue reading

Asceticism without end: Stiegler’s call to Philosophy

I just picked up Acting Out by Bernard Stiegler.  In the first of two essays, Stiegler recalls how he was “called” to philosophy while serving a five year prison sentence.  However, while Stiegler continually mentions and discusses an “act” that led to his incarceration and then eventually, his philosophical “acting out,” he never really spends any time discussing his crime.   Though, the blurb on the back of the book tells us that Stiegler was serving a five year sentence for armed robbery (I wonder if that helped sell some copies).   The essay is a wonderfully written account of how he became a philosopher.  Stiegler details his incarceration: when deprived of exteriority (and I suppose one might argue that this means one is possibly deprived of interiority as well), he put together a rigorous schedule of reading (slowly reading Mallarme every morning, working through Plato, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger and Derrida) and writing in order to produce “signifying practices” that would allow him to (continue to) individuate  while in prison.  Continue reading

some new releases from, an open access publishing house in Australia recently published an interesting looking new book by Toula Nicolacopoulos, The Radical Critique of Liberalism: In Memory of a Vision.  Here’s the blurb:

Despite political theorists’ repeated attempts to demonstrate their incoherence liberal values appear to have withstood the test of time. Indeed, engagement with them has become the meeting point of the different political philosophical traditions. But should radical critique justifiably become a thing of the past? Should political philosophy now be conducted in the light of the triumph of liberalism? These are the wider questions that the book takes up in an attempt to demonstrate the intellectual power of systemic critique in the tradition of Hegel. The author argues that the most ambitious of the communitarian critiques of liberal thought failed due to a fundamental weakness of their philosophical methodology. Moreover, the re-workings of these critiques by feminists, discourse ethicists, postmodern and postcolonial theorists have been equally unsuccessful because they have not traced the individualist commitment of liberal theory back to its source in liberal inquiring practices. Working through the theories of prominent liberal theorists, including John Rawls, Jeremy Waldron, Charles Larmore and Will Kymlicka, the book demonstrates that an adequate appreciation of the deep structural flaws of liberal theory presupposes the application of a critical philosophical methodology that has the power to reveal the systemic interconnections within and between the varieties of liberal inquiring practices.

You can buy it for 25US dollars (which would certainly help them continue to make the good work they publish available) or download a pdf for free here.  In addition, I’m particularly interested in another soon to be released book from by Reza Negarestani called CyclonopediaContinue reading