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The Subject of Modernity

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The question of modernity has provoked a vigorous debate in the work of thinkers from Hegel onwards, through figures such as Heidegger, Habermas, Benjamin, Rorty, and Lyotard. Our own self-styled postmodern age has seen no end to this debate, which now receives a wide-ranging intervention from the theorist and critic Anthony J. Cascardi. Whereas existing analyses of subjectivity and modernity accept the Cartesian model of self-consciousness as dominant even when they argue against it, Cascardi shows how the ...
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Overview

The question of modernity has provoked a vigorous debate in the work of thinkers from Hegel onwards, through figures such as Heidegger, Habermas, Benjamin, Rorty, and Lyotard. Our own self-styled postmodern age has seen no end to this debate, which now receives a wide-ranging intervention from the theorist and critic Anthony J. Cascardi. Whereas existing analyses of subjectivity and modernity accept the Cartesian model of self-consciousness as dominant even when they argue against it, Cascardi shows how the modern subject is positioned within a field of conflicting cultural discourses. Offering an historical account of the origins and transformations of the rational subject beginning with such seventeenth-century figures as Descanes, Cervantes, Pascal, Hobbes and the Don Juan myth, Cascardi carries his argument across the fields of epistemology, literature, political science, religion and psychology. Drawing critically on Max Weber's concept of "world disenchantment," he undertakes a searching critique of modernity's sense of its absoluteness, divorced from an archaic "enchanted" world. He proposes in its place a more fruitful model that integrates historical analysis and theoretical speculation. Contesting the views of Habermas as well as the postmodern thinkers Habermas has sought to criticize, Cascardi develops a constructive rethinking of modernity around the concepts of recognition, transformation and aesthetic liberalism. This challenging work offers a stimulating alternative to current orthodoxies regarding the place of the subject in the modern world and opens new ground for analysis in critical theory.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521412872
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/19/1992
  • Series: Literature, Culture, Theory Series
  • Pages: 326
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 The "disenchantment" of the world 16
Historical self-assertion 16
Modes of rationalization 41
Selfhood and subjectivity 56
2 The theory of the novel and the autonomy of art 72
The theory of the novel 72
Epic and novel 94
The autonomy of art 103
3 Secularization and modernization 125
Representation and secularization 125
Secularization stories: norms and ideals 140
The rationalization of religion 152
4 The subject and the State 179
Questions of legitimation 179
Reorientation in ethics 202
Legitimation and representation 221
5 Subjective desire 228
Belief and desire 228
Subjective desire and social change 240
Social norms: recognition and transformation 259
6 Possibilities of postmodernism 275
History, theory, postmodernity 275
Aesthetic liberalism 296
Index 311
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