A critique of new materialism: Ethics and Ontology

Subjectivity 9 (3):225-245 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This article seeks to offer a critical assessment of the conception of ethics underlying the growing constellation of ‘new materialist’ social theories. It argues that such theories offer little if any purchase in understanding the contemporary transformations of relations between mind and body or human and non-human natures. Taking as exemplary the work of Jane Bennett, Rosi Braidotti, and Karen Barad, this article asserts that a continuity between ethics and ontology is central to recent theories of ‘materiality’. These theories assert the primacy of matter by calling upon a spiritual or ascetic self-transformation so that one might be ‘attuned to’ or ‘register’ materiality and, conversely, portray critique as hubristic, conceited, or resentful, blinded by its anthropocentrism. It is argued that framing the grounds for ontological speculation in these ethical terms licences the omission of analysis of social forces mediating thought’s access to the world and so grants the theorist leave to sidestep any questions over the conditions of thought. In particular, the essay points to ongoing processes of the so-called primitive accumulation as constituting the relationship between mind and body, human and non-human natures.



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

A critique of materialism.John R. Baker - 1946 - Hibbert Journal 45:31-37.
James's empirical assumptions.Henry Jackman - 2004 - Streams of William James 6 (1):23-27.
Noam Chomsky’s Critique of Materialism: An Appraisal.James Hill - 2014 - Teorie Vědy / Theory of Science 36 (4):437-455.
History and Revolution: A Revolutionary Critique of Historical Materialism.Cornelius Castoriadis - 1971 - Bromley(C/o 53a Westmoreland Rd, Bromley, Kent), Solidarity.


Added to PP

2,339 (#2,156)

6 months
448 (#1,023)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Paul Rekret
Richmond American International University In London

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references