Continental Philosophy Review 44 (4):383-400 (2011)

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This article discusses the way in which a group of contemporary cultural theorists in whose work we see a “new materialism” at work constitutes a philosophy of difference by traversing the dualisms that form the backbone of modernist thought. Continuing the ideas of Lyotard and Deleuze they have set themselves to a rewriting of all possible forms of emancipation that are to be found. This rewriting exercise involves a movement in thought that, in the words of Bergson, can be termed “pushing dualism to an extreme.” By this movement, Deleuze has stated, “difference is pushed to the limit,” that is, using Colebrook’s words, “difference is shown differing.” The article addresses the ways in which modernity’s dualisms are traversed, and how a new conceptualization, and ontology, of difference comes to be constituted along the way. New materialism leaves behind all prioritizations involved in modern dualist thinking since a difference structured by affirmation does not work with predetermined relations nor does it involve a hierarchy between terms. The article makes explicit the methodology of the current-day rise of non-dualist thought, both in terms of its non-classificatory mode of thinking and in terms of the theory of the time of thought thus effectuated. Throughout the article we will engage with an example in order to demonstrate the ontology that is being practiced following this methodology: How does a new materialism traverse the sexual dualisms that structure modernist thinking? This example also shows how a feminist post-modernism has remained dualist, and what makes new materialism “new.” Freed from a dualist methodology, the modernist emancipatory project comes to full fruition in new materialism.
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DOI 10.1007/s11007-011-9197-2
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