Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

michelJohann Michel, Ricoeur and the Post-Structuralists Bourdieu, Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault, Castoriadis, Translated by Scott Davidson, Rowman & Littlefield, 2014

publisher’s page
French original edition

In this important and original book, Johann Michel paves the way for a greater understanding of Paul Ricoeur’s philosophy by exploring it in relation to some major figures of contemporary French thought—Bourdieu, Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault and Castoriadis.

Although the fertile dialogue between Ricoeur and various structuralist thinkers is well documented, his position in relation to the post-structuralist movement is less-widely understood. Does Ricoeur’s philosophy stand in opposition to post-structuralism in France or, on the contrary, is it in fact a unique variation of that movement? This book defends the latter statement. Michel speaks of post-structuralisms in the plural form and engages them in a dynamic confrontation between Ricoeur and his contemporaries in the French intellectual scene. The result is a better understanding of Ricoeur’s thought and also of the distinctive issues that emerge through confrontation between Ricoeur and each of these post-structuralist thinkers.

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dardotPierre Dardot and Christian Laval, The New Way of the World: On Neoliberal Society, Verso 2014

Publisher’s page

Exploring the genesis of neoliberalism, and the political and economic circumstances of its deployment, Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval dispel numerous common misconceptions. Neoliberalism is neither a return to classical liberalism nor the restoration of “pure” capitalism. To misinterpret neoliberalism is to fail to understand what is new about it: far from viewing the market as a natural given that limits state action, neoliberalism seeks to construct the market and make the firm a model for governments. Only once this is grasped will its opponents be able to meet the unprecedented political and intellectual challenge it poses.

See e-flux for an edited extract from the book


  • The New Way of the World is the best modern realization of Foucault’s pioneering approach to the history of neoliberalism. It wonderfully explores the European roots and branches of the neoliberal thought collective over the twentieth century, and warns that unthinking misrepresentations of its political project as espousing ‘laissez-faire’ has had the effect of allowing the Left to submit to its siren song.”
  • “To understand these debates [on neoliberalism], the book by Christian Laval and Pierre Dardot on the ‘neoliberal society’ offers us analytical keys. This monument of scholarship draws on the history of ideas, philosophy and sociology.”
  • “Extremely scholarly, this book is an insistent invitation to push theoretical and social critique of the present order beyond the standard analyses.”

With thanks to Colin Gordon for this news

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indiaU. Kalpagam, Rule by Numbers: Governmentality in Colonial India. Lexington Books, 2014

Publisher’s page

This book examines aspects of the production of statistical knowledge as part of colonial governance in India using Foucault’s ideas of “governmentality.” The modern state is distinctive for its bureaucratic organization, official procedures, and accountability that in the colonial context of governing at a distance instituted a vast system of recordation bearing semblance to and yet differing markedly from the Victorian administrative state. The colonial rule of difference that shaped liberal governmentality introduced new categories of rule that were nested in the procedures and records and could be unraveled from the archive of colonial governance. Such an exercise is attempted here for certain key epistemic categories such as space, time, measurement, classification and causality that have enabled the constitution of modern knowledge and the social scientific discourses of “economy,” “society,” and “history.” The different chapters engage with how enumerative technologies of rule led to proliferating measurements and classifications as fields and objects came within the purview of modern governance rendering both statistical knowledge and also new ways of acting on objects and new discourses of governance and the nation. The postcolonial implications of colonial governmentality are examined with respect to both planning techniques for attainment of justice and the role of information in the constitution of neoliberal subjects.

With thanks to Chathan Vemuri  and Colin Gordon for this news

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Jacques Bouveresse, Le désir, la vérité et la connaissance : la volonté de savoir et la volonté de vérité chez Foucault. In Claudine Tiercelin (dir.) La reconstruction de la raison. Dialogues avec Jacques Bouveresse, Collège de France, 2014.

Full text of chapter

1. Ce qui est connu doit-il être vrai ?

1Pour vous donner une idée du problème dont j’ai choisi de vous parler, il sera utile, je crois, de commencer par vous dire quelques mots d’une question plus classique et plus ancienne, en citant le début d’un petit article d’Elisabeth Anscombe, intitulé « Necessity and Truth », qui a été publié pour la première fois dans le Times Literary Supplement du 14 février 1965 :

Ce qui est connu doit être vrai ; par conséquent, on peut facilement avoir l’impression que seul le nécessairement vrai peut être connu. C’est probablement la racine de la conception des Grecs selon laquelle la connaissance est la connaissance de ce qui est vrai de façon immuable. De nos jours, un étudiant débutant apprend très tôt à critiquer le passage de « Ce qui est connu est nécessairement vrai » à « Seul ce qui est nécessairement vrai est connu » ; la première proposition est correcte seulement en ce sens que, si une chose n’est pas vraie, alors ma certitude qu’elle est le cas – nécessairement – n’est pas une connaissance ; et de cela rien ne résulte qui impose une restriction quelconque aux objets de la connaissance.

Effectivement, la faute logique qui est impliquée dans le raisonnement est d’une espèce suffisamment élémentaire pour pouvoir être facilement reconnue. Mais cela n’a pas empêché certains philosophes traditionnels d’éprouver des difficultés sérieuses à résoudre le problème, surtout quand la question se posait à propos de Dieu, dont il peut sembler légitime de supposer que les seuls objets possibles pour sa connaissance devraient être des choses non seulement vraies, mais nécessairement vraies. Elisabeth Anscombe, dans son article, s’est intéressée spécialement à l’attitude que saint Thomas d’Aquin a adoptée à l’égard de cette difficulté :


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kelly-politicsMark G. E. Kelly, Foucault and Politics. A Critical Introduction, Edinburgh University Press, Nov 2014

Further info

A clear and critical account of Foucault’s political thought: what he said, how it’s been used and its influence today

This book surveys Michel Foucault’s thought in the context of his life and times, utilising the latest primary and secondary materials to explain the political implications of each phase of his work and the relationships between each phase. It also illustrates how his thought has been used in the political sphere and examines the importance of his work for politics today.

One of the most prominent theorists in the contemporary humanities and social sciences, Foucault is known as a radical thinker who disturbs our understanding of society. He also presented a moving target, continually changing his concerns and his apparent position. So, until now, comparatively little attention has been given to his politics.

Key Features

  • Engages with Foucault’s entire corpus, from his first works right up to his posthumously published Collège de France lectures and the unabridged version of the History of Madness
  • Looks at the theoretical reception of Foucault’s thought and how it has been applied to real-world problems
  • Student-friendly text boxes highlight and explain key ideas

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vogelmann Frieder Vogelmann, Im Bann der Verantwortung. Frankfurt/New York: Campus, 2014

Further info

Über das Buch

Dass wir verantwortlich handeln sollen, scheint eine selbstverständliche Norm zu sein, die kaum jemand infrage stellt. Doch das war nicht immer so – noch vor 200 Jahren war »Verantwortung« ein marginaler Rechtsbegriff. Was bedeutet die steile Karriere von Verantwortung für unser Denken und Handeln? Was geschieht, wenn Verantwortung in der Arbeitswelt oder in der Kriminalpolitik zu einem verlangten Selbstverhältnis ohne substanzielle Handlungsmacht wird, während die Philosophie Verantwortung an diese Bedingung knüpft?

Content description:

The book demonstrates how large parts of philosophy have fallen under responsibility’s spell, relying heavily on this discursive operator without inquiring into its theoretical and practical consequences. To do so, the book builds on a methodological reading of Michel Foucault’s analysis of practices along the three axes of power, knowledge and self.

Seen from this “archaeological-genealogical” perspective, “responsibility” requires two subject positions: a “bearer” and an “ascriptor” of responsibility. This simple heuristic allows one to analyse the power relations between those two subject positions, the knowledge formations needed to articulate the two subject positions and the self-relation presupposed to occupy them. The book looks into three distinct practice-regimes: of labour (including wage labour as well as the welfare state), of criminality (including policing and punishment practices as well as the criminal trial) and of philosophy.

In all three practice-regimes, there has been a reciprocal transformation of “responsibility” and the practices within which this discursive operator is used. And in all three practice-regimes, responsibility’s self-relation (the self-understanding of those bearing responsibility) has been intensified. But whereas in the non-philosophical practices of labour and criminality, the power relations between the “bearer” and the “ascriptor” of “responsibility”
have been asymmetrically decoupled, thereby dissociating “responsibility” from “agency”, philosophy’s reflections on responsibility have fused both subject positions, thus also fusing “responsibility” and “agency”. This discrepancy, then, leads to philosophy legitimating a discursive operator that works very differently outside of philosophy. Yet philosophy ignores this because “responsibility” (especially as a paradigm for normativity) has become a key term in explicating the specific field of philosophy to itself.

Hence, under responsibility’s spell, philosophy refuses to acknowledge the theoretical and practical effects of its devotion to “responsibility”.

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sabot1Philippe Sabot, Lire « Les mots et les choses » de Michel Foucault,  PUF, 2nd edition, 2014
Comment lire et comprendre l’œuvre de Michel Foucault, dans laquelle il développe l’histoire des sciences humaines pour en comprendre l’élaboration, mais aussi pour en saisir les contraintes et les limites contemporaines.

Quels sont les enjeux fondamentaux des Mots et les choses ?
Pourquoi a-t-on pu considérer ce livre comme un manifeste du structuralisme ?
En quoi consiste cette « archéologie des sciences humaines » proposée par Foucault ?

Le présent ouvrage est une étude d’ensemble des Mots et les choses, ce livre difficile dont les véritables intentions épistémologiques et philosophiques ont été longtemps occultées par les polémiques qu’il a suscitées (la « mort de l’homme ») et par l’extraordinaire succès médiatique dont il a bénéficié dès sa parution en 1966. À travers une lecture raisonnée des Mots et les choses, Philippe Sabot aborde la double dimension, à la fois historique et critique, de la démarche archéologique de Foucault, et souligne l’importance de la question du langage au sein d’une réflexion portant sur les conditions de constitution et de contestation des sciences humaines.

Table des matières

Introduction : L’ordre des choses – L’histoire – Les seuils – Le Même et l’Autre

Présentation de la première partie de Les mots et les choses : Ressemblance, représentation, discours

Commentaire de la deuxième partie de Les mots et les choses : L’histoire, l’homme, le langage
« Le seuil de notre modernité »
1 – Archéologie d’une rupture : Décrochages – Kantisme et anthropologie
2 – Les figures fondamentales du savoir moderne : La naissance de l’économie politique – L’a priori historique de la biologie moderne – La philologie et la dispersion du langage
3 – Le pli anthropologique du savoir : La fin du discours – Le quadrilatère anthropologique – Le dépli du pli anthropologique
4 – La contestation des « sciences humaines » : La situation épistémologique des sciences humaines – La représentation inconsciente – L’inconscient, l’histoire, l’homme et son Autre – L’éternel retour du langage

Conclusion – Résumé analytique de la seconde partie de Les mots et les choses – Glossaire – Bibliographie

Philippe Sabot est professeur de philosophie contemporaine et de sciences humaines à l’université Lille 3. Il dirige l’UMR 8163 « Savoirs, Textes, Langage » (CNRS, Lille 3, Lille 1).

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