Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought


Abstract
Long considered "the noblest of the senses," vision has increasingly come under critical scrutiny by a wide range of thinkers who question its dominance in Western culture. These critics of vision, especially prominent in twentieth-century France, have challenged its allegedly superior capacity to provide access to the world. They have also criticized its supposed complicity with political and social oppression through the promulgation of spectacle and surveillance. Martin Jay turns to this discourse surrounding vision and explores its often contradictory implications in the work of such influential figures as Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, Guy Debord, Luce Irigaray, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jacques Derrida. Jay begins with a discussion of the theory of vision from Plato to Descartes, then considers its role in the French Enlightenment before turning to its status in the culture of modernity. From consideration of French Impressionism to analysis of Georges Bataille and the Surrealists, Roland Barthes's writings on photography, and the film theory of Christian Metz, Jay provides lucid and fair-minded accounts of thinkers and ideas widely known for their difficulty. His book examines the myriad links between the interrogation of vision and the pervasive antihumanist, antimodernist, and counter-enlightenment tenor of much recent French thought. Refusing, however, to defend the dominant visual order, he calls instead for a plurality of "scopic regimes." Certain to generate controversy and discussion throughout the humanities and social sciences, _Downcast Eyes_ will consolidate Jay's reputation as one of today's premier cultural and intellectual historians
Keywords Vision   Cognition and culture   Philosophy, French
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0520081544 (alk. paper)   9780520088856  
DOI 10.2307/431091
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 43,728
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Michel Serres.S. D. Brown - 2002 - Theory, Culture and Society 19 (3):1-27.
Introduction to ‘Secrecy and Transparency’.Clare Birchall - 2011 - Theory, Culture and Society 28 (7-8):7-25.

View all 35 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Columbia History of Twentieth-Century French Thought.Elizabeth Butterfield - 2007 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (2):340-341.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2015-02-02

Total views
17 ( #496,642 of 2,264,661 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #610,433 of 2,264,661 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature