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Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction
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Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  156 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
This book pushes nihilism to its ultimate conclusion by linking revisionary naturalism in Anglo-American philosophy with anti-phenomenological realism in French philosophy. Contrary to the 'post-analytic' consensus uniting Heidegger and Wittgenstein against scientism and scepticism, this book links eliminative materialism and speculative realism.
Paperback, 275 pages
Published March 15th 2010 by Palgrave Macmillan (first published November 2nd 2007)
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Really a dense book. The only criticism I have of this brilliant text is that he relies almost completely on the "Heavy Hitters" of Continental Philosophy (Adorno and Horkheimer, Heidegger, Deleuze, Nietzsche, Lyotard, etc.). While I greatly appreciate the Lit. Review that this book provides, I'm not necessarily sure if it says anything new.

Brassier begins with an amazing rehashing of an ongoing debate between Folk Psychologists and Cognitive Psycholgists (namely Wilfrid Sellars and Paul Church
Jonathan Norton
Jun 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
An argumentative survey of a very narrow range of contemporary philosophy. We hear about the Churchlands, as token representatives of Anglo-American writing, and then after that we're firmly in the "continental" world, where a great big statue of Heidegger looms over the landscape, blotting out the sun.

The discussion of Churchlandian elminitivism is fairly handled, but in the end Brassier endorses a slightly more sophisticated version of the "self-refutation" objection, coached in terms of repre
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don't read all that much in the way of philosophy, so perhaps it's not surprising that probably 90% of this book went completely over my head. I was able to follow the first 3 chapters pretty well, and the final chapter also, but all of part two (and the first chapter of part 3) are a blur to me. My main interest in this book are mainly its connections to the theme of horror: such as the Ligotti quote that serves as an epigraph to the book, a footnote that references Cronenberg's "The Fly," a ...more
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First of all, I agree with Bradley that this book is largely a literature review. Brassier looks at and criticizes the materialisms of the Churchlands, Adorno, Meillassoux, Badiou, Laruelle, Heidegger, and Deleuze. Throughout, his main contention is with the vitalist claim "that physical and chemical principles cannot explain biological functions and processes" (168) though, as is clear from his chapter on the Churchlands, he is not quick to say precisely how physical processes can account for l ...more
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the middle of this thing right now. The first chapter was so damn hard but the ideas were, in my opinion, kind of a restatement of certain philosophical maxims for which I myself have great sympathy, except it was explained through examples from neurosphilosophy. Second chapter, which I just finished, is a MONSTER. Devastates Adorno and Horkheimer's Dialectic of Enlightenment. This guy is in the category of "scary smart." I'm afraid, however, like many other people in the "scary smart" catego ...more
David Peak
Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Something of a review of post-Kantian philosophies, centered around the concept of nihilism, or as Brassier refers to it "...a vector of intellectual discovery which philosophy should try to push to its ultimate conclusion." The sections on Meillassoux ("The Enigma of Realism"), Heidegger ("The Pure and Empty Form of Death"), and Nietzsche ("The Truth of Extinction") proved to be the most compelling. Fairly difficult reading but nonetheless a valuable resource.
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
I think one of the reasons that causes this book to read somewhat like an extensive book review, is also one of the factors which determines why it is an interesting read; namely, its intellectual honesty. Often, scholars will half-heartedly explicate theories that they do not believe in, which makes it so much more effortless to subsequently put forth what reads like an impressive thesis. However, Ray Brassier doesn't cut any corners when reviewing the literature that he uses (at least not inte ...more
Eric Phetteplace
Oct 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Brassier is doing important and interesting work, but his style tends to work against the stunning conclusions which animate his thought. This book functions better as an overview of the unique theories of the day rather than an original work in itself. Brassier gives trenchant summaries and critiques of Badiou, Meillassoux, Deleuze, Laruelle, and Eliminative Materialism (i.e. Paul & Patricia Churchland). But after spending a whole chapter describing a theory, he takes about one or two sente ...more
R Montague
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ray Brassier’s very compelling addition to the growing body of “speculative realist” thought. Working from the basic premise that long-term extinction is inevitable, Brassier walks us through and expounds upon a number of thinkers, all with the intent of undermining the Kantian conceit of a world that is centered around us. Readers need at least a passing familiarity with European philosophical discourse, and the general trends within the “Continental” schools of philosophy.
Well..that was a challenge. There are many good things in here. Brassier's breadth of knowledge is impressive and i find myself generally in agreement with his sentiment. This is a no-joke survey of contemporary trends in continental philosophy along with a study of aspects of Nietzsche and Heidegger.
Nov 28, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I just don't know about these new folks. I enjoyed parts of this book but when it came down to the topic of Speculative Realism where Brassier camps I still find myself struggling to know whether I'm lost or that S.R. is just incoherent by nature. I get the general gist of it, but where they (Brassier, Meillassoux, Harman) take it just eludes me. I find Heidegger or Derrida easier to follow.
Chapter 4, “Unbinding the Void”, is a solid secondary source on the set-theoretical roots of Badiou’s ontology. The thematization of "unbinding" - or as I would say, of the non-being of relation - is helpful and rare among receptions of Being and Event. There's no better hinge concept to focus on for understanding the relation between Badiou's ontology and his ethics.
Carrie Lorig
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i resist a lot of this particularly the writing style which is very MANSPLAINER COMING THROUGH but this also gave me so much to think about and vibrate on. particularly the phrase, "stellar corpses." also READ THIS WITH MELANCHOLIA you dark pony you.
Dilshad Murad
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
That is how a philosophy book should be written! Dense in prose and style, and conceptually uber-challenging. Ray generously uses the works of philosophical giants, from Sellars to Meillassoux, Heidegger to Deleuze to defend a version of nihilism.
Jul 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A refreshing book to read when the climate of Philosophy has been over-saturated with social criticism, postmodern takes on language, identity politics and obsessions with the "Other". In other words, it works to remove the deadlocks brought on by Postmodernism and its preoccupation with social critiques in the guise of "overcoming metaphysics". It is also a good challenge to someone like me, firmly in the phenomenological camp inaugurated by Husserl. Brassier's task is to think the reality of e ...more
Jazz Salo
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
The kind of book that radically challenges everything you thought what considered philosophy. Brassier does a great job expositing those he is both indebted to and trying to move beyond. His conclusions are of such radical nature that they are can hardly be accepted. Yet, they are argued with such precision and fortitude that they can hardly be ignored.
Cary Aurand
Sep 07, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I have a printout of chapter 7, and I'm really digging it. Unfortunately, the almost $100 pricetag has made it a little difficult to snag a full copy. Though I've heard that it's coming out in paperback soon.
Rowan Tepper
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An essential text in the drive toward the development of a philosophy adequate to the reality disclosed by contemporary science, particularly physics and cosmology.
Clarisse Monahan
Apr 15, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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