There are two quotations in this book that summarize its content really well: (1) "We do not want to find a theory of color (neither a physiological nThere are two quotations in this book that summarize its content really well: (1) "We do not want to find a theory of color (neither a physiological nor a psychological one), but rather the logic of color concepts. And this accomplishes what people have unjustly expected from a theory." (2) "That which I am writing about so tediously, may be obvious to someone whose mind is less decrepit."
Wittgenstein not only reflects on difficulties in our perception of color concepts (like imagining a grey flame that does not appear only weakly luminiscent or transparent white glass that does not make objects appear cloudy through it), but also on the difficulties in finding a logic within color theory ("If there were a theory of color harmony, perhaps it would begin by dividing the colors into different groups and forbidding certain mixtures or combinations and allowing others; and, as in harmony, its rules would be given no justification."). He has some pretty neat insights on the "-ish" language-game used to distinguish a yellowish brown from a brownish yellow that I have found useful when describing things outside of color.
Favorite remarks: (1) "In a [black and white] film, as in a photograph, face and hair do not look grey, they make a very natural impression; on the other hand, food on a plate often looks grey and therefore unappetizing in a film." (2) "A shine, a 'high-light' cannot be black. If I were to substitute blackness for the lightness of high-lights in a picture, I wouldn't get black lights. And that is not simply because this is the one and only form in which a high-light occurs in nature, but also because we react to a light in this spot in a certain way. A flag may be yellow and black, another yellow and white." What a weird way to end that thought! ...more
Just as Marx founds a seminal materialist science of history demarcated from a subject in Reading Capital, so too does Machiavelli invent a philosophyJust as Marx founds a seminal materialist science of history demarcated from a subject in Reading Capital, so too does Machiavelli invent a philosophy of politics from "the aleatory void" in Machiavelli and Us. Not only does the publication of The Prince mark the first time political practice appears in a theoretical text, but more importantly, it introduces the reader to his totally original "experimental method" in which a composite thesis is made up of contradictory theses that are positively determined by negating one another.
In addition to highlighting Machiavelli's epistemological break, Althusser rigorously argues that Machiavelli is neither a monarchist nor a crypto-republican (as Rousseau conceives him), and that therefore The Prince and the Discourses on Livy are not conflicting texts. This is because (A) Machiavelli subscribes to a cyclical theory of history, and thus chooses a principality not because it is the best form of government, but because it is the first. (B) Machiavelli is not a traditional political theorist concerned with ideologies of governing; instead, he is concerned with the issue of national unity by way of a state that will endure (medieval Italy was a crappy place in dire straits). (C) Machiavelli does not endorse a hiearchical power dynamic (3 > 2 > 1) with his principality, but one where the "form" of the New Prince protects the people from the nobles (1x = 3 > 2). This situates The Prince more closely to The Communist Manifesto [whose expression might look something like this: x ≤ 1 < 2 < x + 1x with "x" being the princely variable].
Familiarize yourself with the words "dispositive" and "conjuncture" before starting and be prepared for the experimental method that Althusser himself will employ throughout. For instance, Althusser follows Gramsci's example by championing The Prince as a "revolutionary utopian manifesto" until he has exhausted its framework and must negate it, finally treating it as a pragmatic treatise so his theoretical destination may be reached. ...more
It seemed like this book was written primarily to illustrate marxist geographers shortcomings and to outline Soja's socio-spatial dialectic, which isIt seemed like this book was written primarily to illustrate marxist geographers shortcomings and to outline Soja's socio-spatial dialectic, which is something I didn't expect when I started it. From what I understood, marxist geographers are too hung up on Marx, who happened to be explicitly critical of Hegel's alleged spatialist ontology. Soja advocates a marxist-beyond-Marx geography inclusive of the idea that "social relations of production are both space-forming and space-contingent." While I thought this book was really informative, a lot of the ideas were developed non-successively and were sometimes contradictory, which made it hard to muscle through at times. Often Soja would talk about how Lefebvre's spatiality did not mature enough to realize the socio-spatial dialectic, yet its definition is derived from something said by Lefebvre in The Urban Revolution. I was really pumped to see his socio-spatial dialectic and the anti-historicist historico-geographical materialism he had been theorizing practically applied to L.A. and its "constellation of Foucauldian heterotopias", but in the end I was disappointed. Overall I thought this was a pretty cool book, especially with the exciting and challenging language that Soja employed. I would cite this sentence as a good example: "The dymystification of spatiality will reveal the potentialities of a revolutionary spatial consciousness, the material and theoretical foundations of a radical spatial praxis aimed at expropriating control over the production of space." Rad!...more