An exploration of the broad parameters of the post-nation-state sociology which is called for by a powerful and inter-related set of political, economic and cultural factors which are extending globalisation. In this context, theoretical and methodological innovation is to be preferred to the problematic application of older models such as those provided by Hegelian Marxism or Weberianism. Some arguments against the cosmopolitan thesis and risk society thinking are explored, as is the relation between risk society and cosmopolitanism.
Over the past three years or so, Telos and New German Critique have opened a debate in which Habermas's theory of communicative rationality has been counterposed to the ‘aesthetic-sensual forms of subjectivity’ advocated by certain French theorists, who have come to be known as the ‘post-structuralists’. Among the latter, the most significant figures are Michel Foucault, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. This confrontation between theories of desire and theories of communicative rationality is perhaps only just beginning, but already (...) it has made a creative contribution to the development of social theory, and more importantly, it has helped — in conjunction with the new social movements (feminism, the peace movement, the ecology movement) — to clarify some practical issues involved in the task of building a new political culture. (shrink)
The text introduces the special issue on Georges Bataille and his idea of heterology. The editors, Marina Galletti and Roy Boyne, immediately point out the novelty of Bataille’s heterology, both in the academic and political contexts of the 1920s and the present day. It is suggested that Bataille’s heterology is neither a technical-philosophical notion nor a definitive concept. Rather, heterology represents the challenge of the illicit parts of our human existence to any constituted power that proclaims itself as hierarchical, authoritarian, (...) absolute order. Heterology is the revolt of the excluded part – which Bataille sees mainly in the hidden parts of our human body – against a world made up by idealised abstractions. The different sections of the introduction illustrate how Bataille makes heterology operate as a critical and disruptive dispositive in all fields of our knowledge: art, politics, philosophy, economy. This emphasis is also to be found in the various contributions to the special issue, which are briefly discussed in the introduction. Finally, the reader is introduced to the dimension of the ‘completely other’ that Bataille’s heterology opens up and leaves incomplete, as if it were an excluded part that constantly escapes from all human efforts to grasp it firmly. (shrink)
First thoughts about classification inevitably turn to the simultaneously mundane and extraordinary ambition to capture the universe of all that there is and has been. This dream of the universal has two basic modes. First, I will follow the spirit of theos and logos as represented by the Platonic embrace of totality enshrined in Socrates’ scrupulous rejection of rhetorical dishonesty. Second, I will address the later part of the march to subjectivity as expressed by the mechanics of atomism and Cartesian (...) reduction. Following this move from theology to ontology, from in other words the post-synthetic to the post-analytic, I will connect with the sociological destruction of such pretensions to absolute classificatory veracity – a necessary pre-requisite for the engagement of reflexivity and classification to be found in the work of Georges Perec. (shrink)
Empty space. The body started off again, heavy and hot, with tremors and flushes of anger assailing the throat and stomach. But no one inhabited that body now. The streets were emptied as though their contents had been poured down a sink: something that a while ago had filled them had been swallowed up. The usual objects were still there, intact, but they had all become disrupted, they descended from the sky like enormous stalactites, or towered upwards like fantastic dolmens. (...) All their usual little appeals, their shrill cicada-chirpings, had vanished into thin air, and were silent. A man's future had once challenged them, and they met it with a scatter of diverse temptations. That future was dead. (shrink)
Freudian and phenomenological approaches to subjectivity allow the existence of a residual core self. Recent work within cultural analysis and sociology has rejected such a residue. The writings of Judith Butler and Pierre Bourdieu are two cases in point. In the former case, this refusal functions to provide the possibility of reconstructable gendered identities. For Bourdieu, it confirms the primacy of the social. In both cases, the refusal is part of a case made against psychological essentialism. However, the campaign against (...) essentialism may not be served by the rejection of all aspects of the autonomous embodied self. As a test of the implications of this self-denial, an examination is made of the shift in transsexual discourse from the early culture of dissimulation to current trends of openness and the transcendence of dichotomous models of gender. It is shown that the model of citation found in the work of Judith Butler works poorly in the early stage, but works well in the later culture if stripped of its contingent association with dissimulation. The culture of open citation is shown to be dependent upon external certitudes which duplicate, in potentially stronger terms, the very essentialism which the rejection of residual selfhood was first meant to defeat. (shrink)
This introduction reflects on the themes of viscosity, death and the Other in three essays, written by John Milbank, Julia Hell, and Martin Jay, which provide a response — respectively — to three of Professor Zygmunt Bauman’s key works: Legislators and Interpreters, Modernity and the Holocaust, and Liquid Modernity.
Giacometti's work is not comforting. Whether it is seen as driven by abandonment of faith in history, or the surrealist recognition that everything is part of pitiless connection and transmutation, the role of Giacometti's self-understanding in the critical and popular reception of his work is highly significant, and perhaps not sufficiently challenged. Through short discussions of the commentaries on Giacometti's work, by Krauss, Sartre, Sylvester and Danto, and using contrasts with other 20th-century art, it is suggested that the search for (...) the meaning and explanation of the specific creative works in the artist's subjectivity, while very often providing fascinating and invaluable narratives, cannot be taken as an adequate foundation for aesthetic understanding. (shrink)