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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Fhulufhuwani Hastings Nekhwevha, Freire contra Foucault on Power/Knowledge and Truth Discourses. The Constitution of a Subject for Authentic Educational Praxis in South Africa, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, 2012

This is a partly theoretical and partly historical study whose ‘focus-down’ approach has as a main objective a detailed comparative dissection of Freire and Foucault’s conceptions of knowledge, power, truth and the subject for authentic educational praxis and the implication these have for the practice of education for liberation in South Africa. The core argument in the study is that despite the existence of some points of convergence between Freire and Foucault’s projects, for instance, the similarity between Freire’s concern for the cultural experience of the learner and Foucault’s view that marginalised local knowledge need to be rescued from subjugation, Foucault’s notion of power does not allow for liberatory education praxis. Only the pedagogy of knowing within the Freirian mould with its emphasis on dialogue and conscientisation makes liberatory praxis in education possible. Hence it is argued in this study that the most suitable framework to illuminate these processes would necessarily combine Giddens and Thompson’s concept of ideology critique and Habermas’ notion of communicative action for purposes of ensuring dialogical action for freedom to take place.

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Rodrigo Cordero, Crisis and Critique: On the Fragile Foundations of Social Life. Routledge, 2017

Fragility is a condition that inhabits the foundations of social life. It remains mostly unnoticed until something breaks and dislocates the sense of completion. In such moments of rupture, the social world reveals the stuff of which it is made and how it actually works; it opens itself to question.

Based on this claim, this book reconsiders the place of the notions of crisis and critique as fundamental means to grasp the fragile condition of the social and challenges the normalization and dissolution of these ‘concepts’ in contemporary social theory. It draws on fundamental insights from Hegel, Marx, and Adorno as to recover the importance of the critique of concepts for the critique of society, and engages in a series of studies on the work of Habermas, Koselleck, Arendt, and Foucault as to consider anew the relationship of crisis and critique as immanent to the political and economic forms of modernity.

Moving from crisis to critique and from critique to crisis, the book shows that fragility is a price to be paid for accepting the relational constitution of the social world as a human domain without secure foundations, but also for wishing to break free from all attempts at giving closure to social life as an identity without question. This book will engage students of sociology, political theory and social philosophy alike.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Part I. Sociology of crisis/Critique of sociology

1. The critique of crisis

2. The crisis of critique

Part II. Models of crisis/Forms of critique

3. Diremptions of social life: Bringing capitalist crisis and social critique back together —Jürgen Habermas

4. The non-closure of human history: Misfortunes of social critique and the political foundations of concepts —Reinhart Koselleck

Part III. Fragile foundations/Political struggles

5. The fragile world in-between: Totalitarian destruction and the modesty of critical thought —Hannah Arendt

6. Making things more fragile: The persistence of crisis and the neoliberal disorder of things —Michel Foucault

Postscript

Decoding social hieroglyphics: Notes on the philosophical actuality of sociology
—Theodor Adorno

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Matan Oram, Modernity and Crisis in the Thought of Michel Foucault, The Totality of Reason, Routledge, 2017

About the Book

Few studies of Foucault have examined his thought from a sustained interdisciplinary perspective. Through the interpretative prism of the concept of the‘Totality of Reason’, this book suggests an original analytical reading of Foucault’s thought.

This book addresses Foucault’s characterizations of the Enlightenment, asking whether the developmental history of the modern conception of knowledge – from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment – warrants the conclusion he draws. From the perspective of a critical evaluation of Foucault’s thesis on ‘the crisis of modernity’, the book examines whether Foucault, the philosophical and social critic, truly belongs to those intellectual trends known as a ‘deconstruction’ and ‘post-modernism’ that advocate a wholesale rejection of the project of modernity, demonstrating how a classification of this kind contributes to an impoverishment of our understanding of Foucault’s thought.

This book will attract the attention of readers interested in Foucault, and what is broadly perceived to be the ‘crisis of modernity’. It will appeal to scholars and advanced students of sociology, political philosophy and political science, psychology, philosophy, interdisciplinary studies and cultural studies.

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Quentin Molinier, La « French Theory » du spectateur, Nonfiction.fr, 2015

Compte rendu: Christian Ruby, Spectateur et politique. D’une conception crépusculaire à une conception affirmative de la culture ?, La Lettre Volée, 2014

Résumé : Qu’est-ce qu’être spectateur aujourd’hui ? Et quel est son rôle, son destin politique ? L’auteur montre en quoi les réflexions de Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, Marie-José Mondzain et Jacques Rancière peuvent nous aider à dépasser la vision désenchantée et nostalgique qu’un certain nombre d’intellectuels continuent d’entretenir à l’égard d’une figure éminente et centrale de la société du spectacle.

En ces temps de festivités cannoises, il n’est pas inutile de se demander qui sont les vrais « acteurs » de l’industrie cinématographique d’aujourd’hui. A savoir les spectateurs ! Sans eux, sans ces arpenteurs intrépides des salles obscures, ni film ni recette et encore mois d’investissements, de débats, paillettes, critiques, polémiques, journalistes survitaminés, stars endimanchées, tapis-rougisées… Bref, pas de spectacle (dans tous les sens du terme) sans spectateurs. Et tant pis pour le truisme, si du même coup on se donne les moyens d’apprécier les qualités spécifiques du spectateur, ce personnage incontournable de la grande fable culturelle moderne, dont chacun de nous adopte un jour ou l’autre, avec plus ou moins d’assiduité, les traits et les postures.

suite

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Gary Gutting, What Philosophy Can Do, W.W. Norton, 2016

“A brilliant demonstration of what philosophy can do and how it is essential to human integrity and identity.”—Simon Critchley, coeditor of The Stone Reader

How can we have meaningful debates with political opponents?
How can we distinguish reliable science from over-hyped media reports?
How can we talk sensibly about God?

In What Philosophy Can Do, Gary Gutting takes a philosopher’s scalpel to modern life’s biggest questions and the most powerful forces in our society—politics, science, religion, education, and capitalism—to show how we can improve our discussions of contentious contemporary issues.

Gutting introduces readers to powerful analytic tools in the philosopher’s arsenal that they can use to make new sense of current debates. One such tool is a crucial distinction between inductive and deductive reasoning that explains why both sides on a disputed issue often are sure they have compelling cases for their views. Another is the Principle of Charity, which requires opposing parties to present each other’s arguments in their strongest forms—a tool that would make critiques both more respectful and more effective. Gutting also shows how concepts introduced by philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Michel Foucault and John Rawls can clarify public discussions about morality, the economy, and medicine.

From informed assessments of scientific claims to careful analyses of arguments for and against religious belief, Gutting brings a calm, clear-headed approach to some of the most divisive issues on the table today. He scrutinizes our relationship to work and freedom in capitalism; our modern understanding of happiness and the good life; the value of liberal arts education and the humanities; the role of science and politics in shaping public policy today; and the value of art and popular culture. Perhaps most meaningfully, Gutting shows how we can talk about our own deepest beliefs clearly and directly, while listening to what others have to say to us. What Philosophy Can Do makes a powerful case for philosophy’s importance to public discussions, and shows us that this ancient tradition of inquiry may yet have much to say about our future.

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Anthony Alessandrini, “Rescuing the Revolution from Its Outcomes”, Journal of the Society for Contemporary Thought and the Islamicate World, March 23 2017

Part of a Book Symposium on Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi’s Foucault in Iran: Islamic Revolution after the Enlightenment, University of Minnesota Press, 2016, 272 pp., $27.00 US (pbk), ISBN 9780816699490.

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Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi’s Foucault in Iran: Islamic Revolution after the Enlightenment is an exemplary book in a number of ways, but perhaps first and foremost because of what the book does not do. While it represents the most extensive and sympathetic consideration in English of Michel Foucault’s writings on the events leading up to and culminating in the Iranian Revolution, Ghamari-Tabrizi does not fall into the commonplace critical practice of arguing whether Foucault was “right” or “wrong” about the revolution and its aftermath. More admirably, Foucault in Iran is not satisfied with performing the subtler but still ultimately familiar work of simply asking what Foucault’s writings on Iran can do for us in analyzing our contemporary context. Instead, the book performs Ghamari-Tabrizi’s scrupulous allegiance to what he finds most valuable in Foucault’s work: his insistence upon recognizing “the singularity of the revolution” and the concomitant need “to liberate it from the constraints of universalist narratives” (75). By doing so, he manages to contribute not only a new and significant understanding of Foucault’s late work on ethics, but also an important re-historicizing of the Iranian Revolution for an audience that very likely needs this re-telling. It is on this notion of singularity as Ghamari-Tabrizi reads it out of Foucault’s work, as well as out of the revolution itself, that I will thus focus on in my contribution to this roundtable

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In the Shadow of Dictatorship: Foucault in Brazil

Review of Heliana de Barros Conde Rodrigues, Ensaios sobre Michel Foucault no Brasil: Presença, efeitos, ressonâncias  (Lamparina 2016), 176 pages

Reviewed by Marcelo Hoffman, Theory Culture and Society, 22 March 2017

Full text

Abstract:
Michel Foucault visited Brazil five times from 1965 to 1976 yet the details of his overall presence in the country have remained largely unexplored even in Brazil. Heliana Conde’s Ensaios sobre Michel Foucault no Brasil has the great merit of introducing readers to these details through a reliance on wide range of sources, including interviews with his interlocutors and the archives of the former secret police. While her book covers various aspects of Foucault in Brazil up to his effects and resonances in our present, she compellingly illuminates how the military dictatorship cast a long and ominous shadow over each of his visits to the country.

Keywords:
Foucault, Brazil, dictatorship, oral history, militancy, power, resistance

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