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Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance
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Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  188 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Infinitely Demanding is the clearest, boldest and most systematic of Simon Critchley’s influential views on philosophy, ethics and politics. Part diagnosis of the times, part theoretical analysis of the impasses and possibilities of ethics and politics, part manifesto Infinitely Demandind identifies a massive political disappointment at the heart of liberal democracy and a ...more
Hardcover, 168 pages
Published May 17th 2007 by Verso (first published 2007)
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Great first half, where Critchley builds a theory of ethics and the ethical subject by synthesizing Kant, Badiou, Levinas, Freud, and others. The notion of humor as a tool for sublimation is a good and interesting idea, and the book is sure to be revisited in the future for this articulation, as well as the entirety of its philosophy of ethics. The "turn to ethics" is a relevant and well-timed move as well at the dawn of postmodernism.

This is followed by a terri
Mar 25, 2010 Adam rated it really liked it
Shelves: lefty
What do I like about this book? Well, for one, it's probably one of the few philosophical contributions to the global justice movement, or the “movement of movements” of my generation. I also think that it fits nicely alongside the work of Rebecca Solnit and David Graeber in reflecting on the “new anarchism” (as it's been called). Indeed, Critchley uses Graeber's definition of anarchism (in distinction from Marxism) as a building block in his own theory, by emphasizing the the ethics of politica ...more
Jan 03, 2014 Lukáš rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clear, accessible and quite formal for continental thought, Critchley gives a nice outline of his approach to politics and ethics. While I don't feel it's that much new for those who know his work, I enjoyed the way how the ideas were outlined and some of the intuitions were brought into a more explicit sense. I think the weakest is the latter part of the book formulating a more explicit stand on neo-anarchist politics through an interesting, though not sure if that-well situated (in a topologic ...more
Jan 30, 2016 Benjamin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: resistance
First, he sketches out a philosophy of ethics that borrows great hunks from Lacan and Levinas, two dudes who did not see eye to eye. This ethics of infinite duty is only bearable, according to Critchley, if you can laugh at yourself. That bit is probably the most interesting, actually. Because this ethics demands political action, he seeks a form of political action that would fit with it, settles on anarchism, but thinks contemporary movements place to much emphasis on consensus .... instead we ...more
Mar 28, 2011 Liza rated it it was ok
Shelves: school
Kind of interesting and problematic. Žižek wrote this interesting and problematic response: "The lesson here is that the truly subversive thing is not to insist on ‘infinite’ demands we know those in power cannot fulfil. Since they know that we know it, such an ‘infinitely demanding’ attitude presents no problem for those in power: ‘So wonderful that, with your critical demands, you remind us what kind of world we would all like to live in. Unfortunately, we live in the real world, where we hav ...more
Jan 02, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Despite Nietzschean claims about conscience culminating in self-hatred or Freudian claims about the cruelty of the super-ego, I am proposing an ethics of discomfort, a hyperbolic ethics based on the internalization of an unfulfillable ethical demand." pg. 11

"care of the self as a practice of freedom." pg.41

"Responsibility for the other person never consists in our assuming the responsibility which is his or hers. Responsibility does not here imply reciprocity. On the contrary, the other person
Nov 06, 2013 Jonathan rated it really liked it
I read it. I don't think I understood it. I enjoyed it.
I shall read it again.
Peter N.
I enjoyed reading most parts of this book, especially the section on humour, and it's clear and pleasantly written. But to be honest the "neo-anarchism" section felt a bit tacked-on and not very well thought-out and definitely not well-researched. He kinda just took Graeber to be representative of contemporary anarchism and then wildly simplified his work to a description of modern protest (he only cites Fragments and one essay from the New Left Review) and then tried to paint him as a classic A ...more
Feb 11, 2012 Will rated it did not like it
I could barely bring myself to finish this book. It's not that Critchley is a bad writer, nor even a 'bad' philosopher. It's just that this whole book, which is supposedly a statement of his major philosophical framework, is hopelessly narrow and tied down in the niceties of Continental tradition and to the fleeting particularities of the early 2000s.

The image I couldn't shake while reading this book is that Critchley is a perfectly competent baker using extremely inappropriate ingredients. He'
May 29, 2015 Nate rated it it was amazing
Love this guy. Deftly handles a string of complicated theory to formulate an insightful perspective on ethics in modern societies. If you are a Shakespeare nerd and you like thinking about morality and money, check out his essay "Universal Shylockery: Money and Morality in the Merchant of Venice." I believe it was co-authorered with Tom McCarthy.
Cattle Class
May 02, 2015 Cattle Class rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was with this book until the final section on anarchic action. Critchley didn't make clear how individuals coming together for group action differs from the development of party-based liberal democracy. Anarchic utopianism often forgets that people argue frequently, sometimes violently. Aside from that grumble I enjoyed this book deeply.
Apr 05, 2014 Aron rated it it was amazing
Neatly sums up and streamlines a lot of Critchley's thinking.
Mar 02, 2013 Diego rated it really liked it
En este libro Simon Critchley presenta su interpretación del horizonte ético dentro de la política contemporánea, presenta su visión del nihilismo pasivo y activo y como ambos se encuentran presentes en el panorama político.

Explora las ideas de Nietzsche, Levinas, Badiou, Marcuse, Habermas, Mouffe y Marx haciendo una fuerte critica al neo-liberalismo con algunos casos interesantes como el de México en el gobierno de Carlos Salinas, el de Australia en los años setenta y en Estados Unidos durante
Nov 06, 2008 Betsy rated it it was amazing
I don't generally seek philosophy for reading, but I read this for my conflict management class and LOVED it. Critchley offers a timely discussion of the future of the state and political organization, urging a shift from the tragic hero frame to a comic frame. Sounds goofy, but his treatise explaining humor's function, constructs and value are spot on. If you want to really consider the future of change, this book is a great thought generator.
Jul 25, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: moral-philosophy
Critchley is known for his critical appropriation of Emmanuel Levinas's philosophy. Critchley articulates and defends a kind of levinasian anarchism in Infinitely Demanding. Those more familiar with analytic moral theory should approach Critchley's views as offering an ethics of self-formation based on the encounter with "the Other." It's about cultivating a particular ethical attitude or form of life.
May 12, 2009 Marcus rated it really liked it
Interesting, but not without its problems.
E.g. See one of Badiou's criticisms (‘poison in the flower’) that suggests Critchley's ‘dividual’ (a divided subject) is founded on ‘the good’, that ‘the good’ is somehow an ontological prerequisite for Critchley's demand.
Jun 21, 2008 David rated it really liked it
I need to re-read this in conjunction with Lacan's seminar on the ethics of psychoanalysis. This is good stuff--I really like how he addresses the problem of anarchism's tradition of ignoring/failing to consider the"infinite demand" of the other rather than the importance of the autonomous self.
May 24, 2015 Gabriel rated it it was amazing
I wish i coul give it a 4,5 stars. It's actually quite good, nice to read and well written. After reading his conferences about tragedy, I really hope the autor could write a book about that topic.
Steven Wright
Sep 08, 2012 Steven Wright rated it it was amazing
An anarchist framework with ethical demands , cannot be beat! Although,,, it ultimately takes an act of faith to buy into the ethical demand of the face to face encounter
Feb 25, 2009 Matthew rated it liked it
I liked his earlier book with the guy on the cover with the bloody nose (?)

This book was annoying, and I dropped it.
Matthew Bellamy
Sep 08, 2009 Matthew Bellamy rated it it was amazing
Great meditation on what it means to be a member of society coupled with a stirring call to action for our generation.
Mar 02, 2010 Damon rated it it was ok
Not qualified to speak -- I never made it past the first chapter I'm sorry to say.
Francis Barton
Feb 22, 2012 Francis Barton marked it as to-read
Shelves: philosophy
Philosophy is born of disappointment. Just started reading it [Feb 2011].
Oct 20, 2012 walter rated it really liked it
I was in a rut and, while not perfect, this shook me up.
Oct 27, 2008 Kittie rated it did not like it
critchley's understanding of anarchism is infinitely lacking. this book is the worst of what i like to call--the politics of limitation.
Cheryl Amandine
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Apr 26, 2016
Nathaniel O'Coin
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Apr 25, 2016
Tracy Bassett
Tracy Bassett marked it as to-read
Apr 24, 2016
Aris is currently reading it
Apr 24, 2016
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Simon Critchley (born 27 February 1960 in Hertfordshire) is an English philosopher currently teaching at The New School. He works in continental philosophy. Critchley argues that philosophy commences in disappointment, either religious or political. These two axes may be said largely to inform his published work: religious disappointment raises the question of meaning and has to, as he sees it, de ...more
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