The best secondary text on badiou's work I've read. Ok, I've read three but this one actually makes sense to people who don't have a background in matThe best secondary text on badiou's work I've read. Ok, I've read three but this one actually makes sense to people who don't have a background in maths or all the of the areas you'd need to. Not for laypersons but not a struggle either. ...more
One of those books I've been meaning to read for years but never got round to it. I am now utterly glad I did after my previous two reads being incredOne of those books I've been meaning to read for years but never got round to it. I am now utterly glad I did after my previous two reads being incredibly intense.
MacIntyre takes us through a history of ethics and morality that shows us where it all went wrong and why we're now in a sort of deadlock over the whole sorry mess. The modern trend for "emotivism" (a word he detaches from it's link with Ayer and Stevenson, et al) emerges from the failure of the enlightenment project to find a final system of normative rules, all because of various changes in conceptual framework from Ancient Greece, through medieval Europe, to today. The book leaves no stone unturned and provides a compelling case for leaving the very talk of morality as it exists behind and trying to find a brand new approach. My rating doesn't reflect the level to which I agree with it, but the level to which I enjoyed it. ...more
I give 5 star reviews to anything I've read that made me seriously reflect on an issue rather than just being an interesting read. Good or bad, rightI give 5 star reviews to anything I've read that made me seriously reflect on an issue rather than just being an interesting read. Good or bad, right or wrong, Rorty made me do that with this book.
Part-analytic, part-continental, and attempting to dismiss those unhelpful titles in the process, Rorty dismantles the history of epistemology as the perceived backbone of modern thought. He not only tries to show how the particular concerns of our day have emerged from some specific moves in philosophical outlook from Plato through Locke and Descartes and off into Kant, but also that we don't need any of the resulting effects they have had. An attempt to create a final theory of justification, knowledge or metaphysics isn't just unnecessary, it's also insufficient in its practical application.
Rorty, like many others, is one of those great writers who are worth dipping into for the vast library of philosophy they own inside their minds, the clarity of their thought, and their daring to not just dismiss other theories but to show that they weren't even asking the right questions. Engaging and brilliant; a must for any fan of epistemology and metaphysics....more
I know describing any Zizek book as "his most coherent" is like congratulating a Bob Dylan performance on being his "least nasal" but if one book canI know describing any Zizek book as "his most coherent" is like congratulating a Bob Dylan performance on being his "least nasal" but if one book can be said to finally put lazy criticism of Zizek to rest then this should be it.
It's not perfect (even though I gave it 5 stars), but what book of philosophy is? Generally speaking, Zizek is trying to "do Hegel again" whilst filtering in Lacan and Marx, reinterpreting Meilassoux, Butler, Heidegger, Jameson and Freud, as well as exploring the Hegelian sides of speculative realism and quantum physics. In fact, this latter chapter is one of his strongest, showing a direct engagement with ideas above and beyond philosophy and psychoanalysis and refusing to descend into self-parody. This is perhaps the book's key strength: Zizek is less willing to simply repeat a bunch of now tired movie references and jokes from the old country. Instead he directly engages with a range of topics over a series of lengthy chapters with heavy theory and minimal nonsense (although fans of his meandering and tangents will not be disappointed in a few places).
The book is by no means "entry level". Many of the early chapters baffled me as I have no background or even the remotest hint of knowledge in German Idealism (I hoped this would teach me a bit about Hegel). While I know more about Hegel in his Zizekian form after reading this, I can certainly say that it was a hard slog. If you've read Zizek before then the sections on Lacan and Marx are not too taxing, and a little knowledge of Deleuze wouldn't go amiss either. However, if you're willing to pile through the stuff that's incredibly difficult, there are some absolute gems in there (like the previously mentioned chapter on quantum mechanics, his engagement with Badiou's theory of the event and his criticism of speculative realism). As a whole it is not perfectly formed, still having "interludes" that don't often stand out as obvious links between sections, but it reads as a lot more of a consistent piece than his other works. For this, it should be read as his masterpiece- the "go to" for those who wish to read Zizek at his best, his clearest and his most honest....more
Possibly my biggest problem with reading Badiou is the fact that once he hits the formal proofs of his concepts and principles I always get lost in aPossibly my biggest problem with reading Badiou is the fact that once he hits the formal proofs of his concepts and principles I always get lost in a mire of set theory and logic that my tiny mind can't handle. In which case, it was with great trepidation that I set about reading "Logics of Worlds", the follow-up to his intriguing/baffling "Being and Event". I changed my approach and didn't resign to my lack of understanding and painstakingly pursued each proof in laborious detail to make sure that every sentence was understood. In honesty this worked well until Book 6 when I put the book down and didn't come back to it for a fortnight. I was pretty much lost and had to rely upon my understanding of the phenomenological analyses and applications to thinkers to get me through.
That's just my personal experience of the book. My feelings on it are different. Far from being an impenetrable trawl, it was an enlightening, engaging and exciting work that makes you feel like you're really having a whole world opened up to you. It's exciting to read books that you may not agree with, but you feel pushing against you and challenging you to rethink everything. As usual, the writing sways from dense formalism to sheer lyricism with ease, both captivating and taxing at once.
Not recommended if you haven't read "Being and Event". If it's been a while since reading it, it's also worth revisiting "Theoretical Writings" or "Infinite Thought" as a refresher, then get stuck in. It's going to be a long journey, but worth it....more
Less theoretical than the first volume, but it's up to other readers to decide whether that's a good or a bad thing. Foucault presents a history of thLess theoretical than the first volume, but it's up to other readers to decide whether that's a good or a bad thing. Foucault presents a history of the "problematizations" of sexuality in ancient times, from marriage to health, homosexuality and love. Foucault doesn't promise a complete analysis but a survey of the key issues that had arisen in ancient Greece. As with his look at Victorian values, the question is not how sexuality was viewed in these eras, but how such a thing as "sexuality" was not truly present in the sense we understand today. This view is perhaps more palatable for some readers in this book as his analysis rests more in history than in post-structualist analysis (in fact, there is little of no talk of discourse, articulation and so on, if any). Whether you love or loathe postmodern theory, this is still a tour de force and well worth a read.
Weirdest thing I read underneath this review is the amount of people that seem to think it is a book primarily and solely about homosexuality, which it isn't. If you're going to discuss sexuality and show how it has changed so much over time, one of the things that would have to be mentioned would be the relationships between the same sex. The other reviews seem to miss the masses of work on extra-marital affairs, the economics of power in the home, and the health aspects of sex. While same sex partnerships are mentioned within this analysis, they don't dominate. Thus it's a lazy (and homophobic) criticism to seem to think that because a gay man writes about homosexuality as part of a wider work then somehow he's just trying to justify his own desires or forcing his sexuality onto us (even if he was, so what?)...more
This is the second Judith Butler book I've read (the other being Gender Trouble), and I found it as interesting and enlightening as the first. As a ciThis is the second Judith Butler book I've read (the other being Gender Trouble), and I found it as interesting and enlightening as the first. As a cis male, I would originally be thought of as an outsider. However, once you enter into the text you realise that this has repercussions for every individual regardless of sex, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or any other form of identity you can think of. Discussing gender may focus on those who are oppressed (as in feminism or gay and lesbian studies) or marginalised/excluded (as in queer theory) but it nonetheless allows one to reflect back upon one's own situation.
It's true that Butler isn't the easiest read you could hope for. She's the winner of the Bad Writer of the Year award, which says a lot. Rather than defending the quality of her writing, I'd prefer to defend the content. I don't think there's a great philosophical reason to defend her style, so I won't. Some sentences amble on forever and I did actually need to go back and break them down in a way I haven't done since I was in primary school. However, I disagree thoroughly with critics like Nussbaum who argue that there is no substance behind the lengthy sentences and it's just another Derridean attempt to be obfuscatory. Let's face it: that's the general criticism of anyone who falls under the unhelpfully broad monikers of "postmodern" or "continental" philosophy, even those that I've always found clear like Foucault or Laclau.
Stylistic problems aside (something we have to accept in Butler's work), there is still plenty to get you thinking especially the chapters on "Paris is Burning", her re-reading of Zizek and Laclau (and, dare I say, improvement upon them), as well as the closing chapter on being "Critically Queer".
A superb read, especially for an impulse buy....more
One of the masterpieces of post-modern philosophy and way more than the wishy-washy relativism that now seems to go by that name. Foucault excavates tOne of the masterpieces of post-modern philosophy and way more than the wishy-washy relativism that now seems to go by that name. Foucault excavates the move from the classical era's interest in representation to new forms of thought in economics, biology and language. This shift in thoughts provides the basis for the analysis provided in the second half of the book where Foucault develops a more abstract and general account of episteme and the unspoken practices that shape the way we think....more
Badiou has a great knack of turning the mind-bogglingly complex ideas behind his masterworks into a compact, concise and readable short pieces. This bBadiou has a great knack of turning the mind-bogglingly complex ideas behind his masterworks into a compact, concise and readable short pieces. This book condenses the ideas in "Logics of Worlds" into something more digestale. I always think that these reductions and collections of essays (Theoretical Writings and Infinite Thought in particular) manage to show how he isn't full of the empty bluster that many critics of continental thought aim at him directly or indirectly. A great introduction to the most recent period of his work and well worth a read. Not for the beginner in philosophy, but definitely a good start for those wanting to explore Badiou's work in detail....more
First review written from my iPhone so sorry if it's complete babble. After being impressed by the first volume of these essays I thought I'd try theFirst review written from my iPhone so sorry if it's complete babble. After being impressed by the first volume of these essays I thought I'd try the second. Rorty respectfully delves into the nemeses of analytic philosophy- the unhelpfully and vaguely named continental or postmodern traditions- with the same ironic and incisive gaze as his work on Davidson and Quine. One can't help but be drawn in by his depth and breadth of references and his poetic yet pragmatic approach. A great voice in philosophy, a genuine open mind and anti-dogmatist. Sadly missed. ...more
The format is typical Zizek. 6 essays with some sort of thread between them, split into parts by theme and all quixotically hinged upon some sort of pThe format is typical Zizek. 6 essays with some sort of thread between them, split into parts by theme and all quixotically hinged upon some sort of premise which is explained in the introduction. However, this one actually does what Zizek says it does. He does actually look at the topic he outlines. In this book Zizek explores the Lacanian concept of jouissance that he feels lies at the heart of ideology (nothing new there) but following through the notion of the cause as a political factor. This brings him onto the second division on women which draws us back to jouissance again.
This manages to be both old hat (if you've read him before) but refreshingly new. There's fewer meaningless delves into pop culture and some actual explanations of what Lacan means rather than expectations that we already know. Some of his chapters on women seem to be attempting to move beyond categories of phallocetric psychoanalysis without really managing it. There are better writers on female sexuality out there. However, his writing on Lynch is impeccable and there are some great reflections on desire which are worth reading.
There's also a self-interview in the appendix which is best read before you begin. Much of it seems to be a repetition of what is already discussed earlier but in less depth. It almost serves as a Rough Guide to Zizek which might make entry into his work easier (if you get some of the references already, as it really just irons out the idiosyncrasies in his readings rather than explaining the concepts he starts with). If you read it after the main body of the book then it is a little tedious. ...more
A deep rich work of pessimism, managing to fuse a Nietzschean style of writing with a Schopenhauerian line of thought. Unrelentingly bleak, only showiA deep rich work of pessimism, managing to fuse a Nietzschean style of writing with a Schopenhauerian line of thought. Unrelentingly bleak, only showing promise when the optimism of suicide is raised, Cioran's pathos can depress and amuse in equal measure. There are some deliberately humourous moments ("the world is a receptacle for sobs") but largely this is the meandering of an insomniac and depressive realising that- when it comes down to it- the things that make life manageable are the things that make it unbearable. ...more