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Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance

Overview

The clearest, boldest and most systematic statement of Simon Critchley’s influential views on philosophy, ethics, and politics, Infinitely Demanding identifies a massive political disappointment at the heart of liberal democracy. Arguing that what is called for is an ethics of commitment that can inform a radical politics, Critchley considers the possibility of political subjectivity and action after Marx and Marxism, taking in the work of Kant, Levinas, Badiou and Lacan. Infinitely Demanding culminates in an ...

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Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance

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Overview

The clearest, boldest and most systematic statement of Simon Critchley’s influential views on philosophy, ethics, and politics, Infinitely Demanding identifies a massive political disappointment at the heart of liberal democracy. Arguing that what is called for is an ethics of commitment that can inform a radical politics, Critchley considers the possibility of political subjectivity and action after Marx and Marxism, taking in the work of Kant, Levinas, Badiou and Lacan. Infinitely Demanding culminates in an argument for anarchism as an ethical practice and a remotivating means of political organization.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Highly recommended.”—Choice

“Simon Critchley is the most powerful and provocative philosopher now writing about the complex relations of ethical subjectivity and reinvigorated democracy.”—Cornel West

“A stimulating analysis; highly recommended.”—Library Journal

Choice

Highly recommended.

Cornel West
“Simon Critchley is the most powerful and provocative philosopher now writing about the complex relations of ethical subjectivity and reinvigorated democracy. ”
Library Journal

Critchley (philosophy, Univ. of Essex, Colchester; Things Merely Are) argues that philosophy begins not from a sense of wonder but from disappointment. What concerns him especially is political disappointment, the common belief that something is radically amiss with the world. One response to disappointment is nihilism, the denial that the world has value. Passive nihilists, e.g., political theorist John Gray, whose Straw Dogsis a counterpoint to Critchley's book, accept the loss of value with resignation. Active nihilists, by contrast, wish to destroy the present world through revolutionary violence, hoping that something better will emerge. Critchley rejects both kinds of nihilism. Instead, he favors an ethics in which the ethical subject is split "between itself and a demand it cannot meet." Critchley has been influenced in this view by French philosophers Alain Badiou and Emmanuel Levinas and Danish thinker Knud Logstrup, and he gives a clear exposition of their ideas. In political practice, his ethical perspective leads to a form of anarchism: he calls for resistance to the "ideological moralism" of current American foreign policy. A stimulating analysis; highly recommended for philosophy and political theory collections.
—David Gordon

Times Literary Supplement
“A little book with a big idea.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781781680179
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 1/16/2013
  • Series: Radical Thinkers Series
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 734,676
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Critchley is Hans Jonas Professor at the New School for Social Research, and a part-time professor of philosophy at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. His many books include Infinitely Demanding, Ethics–Politics–Subjectivity and, most recently, The Book of Dead Philosophers.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: The possibility of commitment     1
Nihilism - active and passive     3
Motivational deficit     6
The argument     8
Demanding approval - a theory of ethical experience     14
Ethical experience     14
Ethical subjectivity     19
Justifying reasons and exciting reasons     23
Kant, for example - the fact of reason     26
The auto-authentification of the moral law - some contemporary Kantians     27
The autonomy orthodoxy and the question of facticity     32
Dividualism - how to build an ethical subject     38
Alain Badiou - situated universality     42
Knud Ejler Logstrup - the unfulfillable demand     49
Emmanuel Levinas - the split subject     56
Jacques Lacan -the Thingly secrecy of the neighbour     63
The problem of sublimation     69
Happiness?     70
The tragic-heroic paradigm     73
Humour     77
We still have a great deal to learn about the nature of the super-ego     82
Having conscience     85
Anarchic metapolitics - political subjectivity and political action after Marx     88
Marx's truth     94
Capitalism capitalizes     97
Dislocation     99
The names are lacking - the problem political subjectivity     103
One needs to search for the struggle     105
Politics as interstitial distance within the state     111
True democracy     114
Ethics as anarchic meta-politics     119
A new language of civil disobedience     123
Dissensus and anger     128
Conclusion     131
Crypto-Schmittianism - the Logic of the Political in Bush's America     133
Explanatory note     149
Notes     151
Index     165
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