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The Accursed Share 1: Consumption

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,021 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
The three volumes of The Accursed Share address what Georges Bataille sees as the paradox of utility: namely, if being useful means serving a further end, then the ultimate end of utility can only be uselessness. In the second and third volumes, The History of Eroticism and Sovereignty, Bataille explores the same paradox of utility from an anthropological and an ethical pe ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published March 26th 1991 by Zone Books (first published 1949)
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Being and Time by Martin HeideggerThe Republic by PlatoCritique of Pure Reason by Immanuel KantThus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich NietzschePhenomenology of Spirit by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Best Philosophy Book
92nd out of 680 books — 942 voters
The Society of the Spectacle by Guy DebordThe Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul VaneigemSimulacres et simulation by Jean BaudrillardBeing and Time by Martin HeideggerGender Trouble by Judith Butler
r/CriticalTheory Recommended Reading
53rd out of 83 books — 6 voters

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May 24, 2016 Lukáš rated it it was amazing
This book is generally acknowledged as an attempt at articulating a major theory of political economy out of Nietzsche's ideas with a lethal dose of clarity. First, however, this is a very "Heideggerian" Nietzsche (though, no surprise as Heidegger's work was the only major systematic apprehension of Nietzsche's philosophy at the time). Heidegger's claim that for Nietzsche, nihilism defines some kind of a-historical key to understanding all of Western history seems to me to be reproduced in its e ...more
Apr 06, 2008 Tosh rated it really liked it
A combination of the Erotic with the Economic. How does Georges Bataille combine the two. One of the most original thinkers in contemporary (20th Century) literature. Bataille not only sees economy as a means to exchange goods but also the the extras that are there and how one uses the 'extras'. The excess of power, exchange, and perhaps love itself. Difficult at times, but also incredibly rewarding.

A good introduction to Bataille's work is for sure his fiction (The Story of the Eye, etc.) but
Dec 01, 2010 MG rated it really liked it
I pulled this from my shelf as I was dusting, having read it some 15 years ago. 15 years ago! I liked it then, and I still like it. Bataille critiques traditional economy and examines what he calls the 'general economy', an economy not wholly based on production (as Marx would have it), but excess and expenditure, or non-productive surplus. On a philosophical level, it defines self-consciousness or a liberated subjectivity as 'prestige'--an economy of gift exchange that runs on endless consumpti ...more
Bir iktisat kitabı denilebilir. Bir hoca ile konuşmamda bana söylediği şuydu, "Sosyal bilimler ve iletişim aslında iktisattan beslenir." Ben bu beslenmeyi çok anlamlandıramamıştım. Bu kitap beni buna yordu denilebilir ama pek de (kendi adıma) başarılı olduğu söylenemez. Çok uzağında okumalar yaptığım için olsa gerek diyerek çekilebilirim aradan...
Dec 27, 2007 Nathan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in Anthropology, Economics, Religious Studies
Though Bataille continues to deal with religion and ritual in this book, his concerns are more classically Anthropological than in Theory of Religion (population growth, scarcity, social structure etc.). The project he sets out in the introductory chapters is the development of
a "general economy": a system that not only accounts for the
development and exchange of goods, but of all energy on the Earth. From the perspective of general economy, life is a terrific excess that cannot be fully utilize
Mar 30, 2015 Joe added it
Shelves: philosophy
Bataille is slipping in and out of my mind as I participate in making books. How to produce books that sumptuously consume themselves? / Retreat from the grasp of the reader--so the object cannot disappoint them, only their experience w/their own memory.
Jun 03, 2008 Darren rated it it was amazing
Bataille's philosophy of History. Totally cogent and elegant. More legible than his theories of erotics.
Mar 06, 2015 Christopherseelie rated it it was amazing
Volume 1 is a marvelous tease. Volume 2 & 3 are ordered and cannot arrive soon enough. The compelling argument that a postlapsarian focus on growth, usefulness, labor, profit, can only end in a squandering of those gains points to damning proof from the world around us. Contrasted with the Aztec society, where the cosmology of life assigns humanity to being food for the gods and thus privileges consumption over growth, modernity may face its anxieties, its poverty mentality, and the overwhel ...more
Mar 28, 2015 Daniel rated it really liked it
Bataille examines the economic systems throughout history, along with diverging cultures, in order to critique society using his theory of General Economy based off of the notion of non-productive expenditure (pure loss), which is the dissipation of excess wealth or resources that go against the Capitalist ideology of accumulation. This is expressed in sacrifice, the sacred, Potlatch, and sexual reproduction. The accursed share is the dialectical relationship between accumulation and expenditure ...more
Jean d'Arp

"L'organisme vivant, dans la situation que déterminent les jeux de l'énergie à la surface du globe, reçoit en principe plus d'énergie qu'il n'est nécessaire au maintient de la vie; l'énergie (la richesse) excédante peut être utilisée à la croissance d'un système (p.ex. d'un organisme); si le système ne peut plus croître, ou si l'excédent ne peut en entier être absorbé dans sa croissance, il faut nécessairement le perdre sans profit, le dépenser, volontiers ou non, glorieusement ou sinon
Samelu   Binumcole
Intellectually stimulating and amusing.
I feel like the last chapter which comes off
like some kind of excuse for Stalinism drags down
the entirety of the book and Batailles incisive mind,
nevertheless the theory of the solar economy remains a must
for people interested in this author. This should be one of the
first books to read if you ask me, it has an outrageously fresh
take on human life as a surplus of energy and the problems arising
from the human condition when this surplus needs to be ta
Left Sr
Sep 11, 2014 Left Sr rated it really liked it
A magnificent text on the destructive tendency of economy and Bataille's vision of a "headless society". The only bad part of it is when he defends Stalinist Russia, arguing against his own thesis to do so- he proposes that Russia needs to accumulate purposefully in order to achieve full capitalism so that it can reach communism, but this contradicts his own vision of societies of wasteful and extravagant use value, as well as accepting the excuses made for Bolshevik dictatorship, a bit shortsig ...more
Sep 09, 2009 M. rated it really liked it
Bataille-the-philosopher becomes Bataille-the-economist, and to do this becomes Bataille-the-historian. Economics is 50% a mystery to my humanities upbringing, but the fact that Bataille roots his theory of general economy in "historical examples" instead of, well, the impossible as he normally does brings this closer to lucid. I started this a while ago and couldn't "get into it," but managed to read the last 150 pages in 2 sittings today. I think the ideas here are important, and I'm excited t ...more
Simei Doblinski
"De todos os lados e de todas as formas um mundo em movimento quer ser mudado"
Asamatteroffact Glesmann
Apr 06, 2009 Asamatteroffact Glesmann rated it really liked it
Somewhat reminiscent to Weber's 'Capitalism & the Protestant Ethic', this book outlines the parallel processes of economic & religious historical developments. Somewhat difficult to get into & the final chapter focuses entirely on the Soviet Union, which is kind of an odd finish to read now that the Cold War is long over. But otherwise a pretty interesting read. Not as good as Bataille's Part 2: Theory of Religion.
Chris Nagel
Jun 17, 2013 Chris Nagel rated it really liked it
Intriguing opening salvo. I'm profoundly puzzled by the connection between the analyses of economies and self-consciousness. I gather that the limited economies discussed here, and the limited analyses of economies, are what make it unclear how self-consciousness depends on the general economic move of expenditure -- thus to have no object.
Aug 03, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing
After reading this, I now subscribe to Bataille's theory of "general economy." On this view, economies aren't about production but the dissipation of surplus energy. By extension, next time I meet someone who drives a Hummer, I'll shake their hand and smile. Of course I'm joking.
Nov 16, 2007 Tony rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
A revelation early on in my philosophical wanderings. Eroto-econo-socio-anthropology at its best.
Mar 19, 2008 Daniel rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Daniel by: philosopher extraordinaire tzuchien
various bataille pieces - essays on sacrifice and "potlatch" are winners.
Katie Muffett
Jan 30, 2008 Katie Muffett marked it as to-read
I've glimpsed into this and am excited. Unnaturallye excited.
Count No Count
Jan 30, 2008 Count No Count rated it liked it
Origins of the potluck, you greenbean casserole eating turkeys.
Feb 22, 2010 Trevor added it
As recommended by Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen...
May 20, 2009 Richard rated it it was amazing
This book explained current politics to me
Max Maslansky
Mar 26, 2008 Max Maslansky rated it really liked it
Pot-latching. Yum
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French essayist, philosophical theorist and novelist, often called the "metaphysician of evil." Bataille was interested in sex, death, degradation, and the power and potential of the obscene. He rejected traditional literature and considered that the ultimate aim of all intellectual, artistic, or religious activity should be the annihilation of the rational individual in a violent, transcendental ...more
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“Under the present conditions, everything conspires to obscure the basic movement that tends to restore wealth to its function, to gift-giving, to squandering without reciprocation.” 4 likes
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