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ASCP Members' Books 2009

The ASCP community is prolific in producing work that encompasses a variety of areas of scholarship in Continental Philosophy. The following book descriptions provide some recent examples of this work published in 2009. Further details about each book can be found by clicking on the links to Amazon Books. If you purchase any books from Amazon after linking from this site, Amazon will track your trajectory and part profits will be returned to the ASCP. Thank you for supporting the ASCP community!

Jennifer Ang Mei Sze, Sartre and the Moral Limits of War and Terrorism (Routledge)

Reinterpreting Sartre’s main methodologies and removing Hegelian dialectics from his notion of violence, this book demolishes the supposed hostile intersubjective relations that characterizes all concrete relations. Furthering this stance, it reconstructs an interpretation of the "violent Sartre" and crafts an alternative response: one that rejects terrorist tactics, preemptive war and Western hegemony through democratization. Based on the latest debate on Sartre’s works on ethics and politics, this project examines the relevancy and new importance they hold for contemporary concerns -- the reactionary nature of terrorism, the extremity of counter-violence, and limitations of democratization efforts -- all claiming to be justified in the name of "freedom" and "liberation." While it is the concern over the "terrorist’" nature of his writings that dominates the current debate, this project starts from the premise that it is as important to ask why violence is unjustified when it can put an end to a situation that disparages humanity. In arguing for the need for moral limitations to all violent struggles, and the need for seeing others as ends-for-themselves, it proceeds to outline a response based on existential humanist ethics that can reaffirm our moral compass.

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Andrew Benjamin and Charles Rice (eds) Walter Benjamin and the Architecture of Modernity (re:press)

Walter Benjamin is universally recognised as one of the key thinkers of modernity: his writings on politics, language, literature, media, theology and law have had an incalculable influence on contemporary thought. Yet the problem of architecture in and for Benjamin's work remains relatively underexamined. Does Benjamin's project have an architecture and, if so, how does this architecture affect the explicit propositions that he offers us? In what ways are Benjamin's writings centrally caught up with architectural concerns, from the redevelopment of major urban centres to the movements that individuals can make within the new spaces of modern cities? How can Benjamin's theses help us to understand the secret architectures of the present? This volume takes up the architectural challenge in a number of innovative ways, collecting essays by both well-known and emerging scholars on time in cinema, the problem of kitsch, the design of graves and tombs, the orders of road-signs, childhood experience in modern cities, and much more. Engaged, interdisciplinary, bristling with insights, the essays in this collection will constitute an indispensable supplement to the work of Walter Benjamin, as well as providing a guide to some of the obscurities of our own present.

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Jean-Philippe Deranty, Beyond Communication: A Critical Study of Axel Honneth's Social Philosophy

Few thinkers have made such significant contribution to social and political thinking over the last three decades as Axel Honneth. His theory of recognition has rejuvenated the political vocabulary and allowed Critical Theory to move beyond Habermas. Beyond Communication is the first full-scale study of Honneth’s work, covering the whole range of his writings, from his first sociological articles to the latest publications. By relocating the theory of recognition within the tradition of European social theory, the book exposes the full depth and breadth of Honneth’s philosophical intervention. The book will be an indispensable resource for anyone interested in contemporary philosophy and the social sciences.

http://www.brill.nl/beyond-communication-critical-study-axel-honneths-social-philosophy

Moira Gatens (ed), Feminist Interpretations of Benedict Spinoza (Pennsylvania State UP)

This volume brings together international scholars working at the intersection of Spinoza studies and critical and feminist philosophy. It is the first book-length study dedicated to the re-reading of Spinoza's ethical and theologico-political works from a feminist perspective. The twelve outstanding chapters range over the entire field of Spinoza's writings—metaphysical, political, theological, ethical, and psychological—drawing out the ways in which his philosophy presents a rich resource for the reconceptualization of friendship, sexuality, politics, and ethics in contemporary life.

The clear and accessible Introduction offers a historical sketch of Spinoza's life and intellectual context and indicates how Spinoza s philosophy might be seen as a rich cultural resource today. Topics treated here include the mind-body problem and its relation to the sex-gender distinction; relational autonomy; the nature of love and friendship; sexuality and normative morality; free will and determinism and their relation to Christian theology; imagination and recognition between the sexes; emotion and the body; and power, imagination, and political sovereignty. The essays engage in a rich and challenging conversation that opens new paths for feminist research. Contributors, besides the editor, are Aurelia Armstrong, Sarah Donovan, Paola Grassi, Luce Irigaray, Susan James, Genevieve Lloyd, Alexandre Matheron, Heidi Ravven, Amelie Rorty, and David West.

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Grant Gillett, The Mind and its Discontents, 2nd Edition (Oxford UP)

The first edition of The Mind and its Discontents was a powerful analysis of how, as a society, we view mental illness. In the ten years since the first edition, there has been a growing interest in the philosophy of psychiatry, and a new edition of this text is more timely and important than ever. InThe Mind and its Discontents, Grant Gillett argues that an understanding of mental illness requires more than just a study of biological models of mental processes and pathologies. As intensely social animals, he argues, we need to look for the causes of human mental disorders in our interactions with others; in social rule-following and its role in the organization of mental content; in the power relations embedded within social structures and cultural norms; in the way that our mental life is inscribed by a cumulative life of encounters with others. Drawing upon work from within the philosophy of mind, epistemology, post-modern continental philosophy, and philosophy of language, he tries to elucidate the nature of psychiatric phenomena involving disorders of thought, perception, emotion, moral sense, and action. Within this framework, a series of chapters analyze important psychiatric disorders, such as depression, attention deficiency, autism, schizophrenia, and anorexia. Along the way, Gillett explores the nature of memory and identity; of hysteria and what constitutes rational behavior, and of what causes us to lavel someone a psychopath or deviant.

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Anna Hickey-Moody, Unimaginable Bodies: Intellectual Disability, Performance and Becoming (Sense Publishers)

Unimaginable Bodies radically resituates academic discussions of intellectual disability. Through building relationships between philosophy, cultural studies and communities of integrated dance theatre practice, Anna Hickey-Moody argues that dance theatre devised with and performed by young people with and without intellectual disability, can reframe the ways in which bodies with intellectual disability are known. This proposition is considered in terms of classic philosophical ideas of how we think the mind and body, as Hickey-Moody argues that dance theatre performed by young people with and without intellectual disability creates a context in which the intellectually disabled body is understood in terms other than those that pre-suppose a Cartesian mind-body dualism. Taking up the writings of Spinoza and Deleuze and Guattari, Hickey-Moody critiques aspects of medical discourses of intellectual disability, arguing that Cartesian methods for thinking about the body are recreated within these discourses. Further, she shows that Cartesian ways of conceiving corporeality can be traced through select studies of the social construction of intellectual disability. The argument for theorising corporeality and embodied knowledge that Hickey-Moody constructs is a philosophical interpretation of the processes of knowledge production and subjectification that occur in integrated dance theatre. Knowledge produced within integrated dance theatre is translated into thought in order to explore the affective nature of performance texts. This book is essential reading for those interested in theories of embodiment, disability studies and dance.

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Graham Jones and Jon Roffe (eds), Deleuze's Philosophical Lineage  (Edinburgh University Press)

The philosophy of Gilles Deleuze is increasingly gaining the prestige that its astonishing inventiveness calls for in the Anglo-American theoretical context. His wide-ranging works on the history of philosophy, cinema, painting, literature and politics are being taken up and put to work across disciplinary divides and in interesting and surprising ways. However, the backbone of Deleuze's philosophy - the many and varied sources from which he draws the material for his conceptual innovation - has until now remained relatively obscure and unexplored. This book takes as its goal the examination of this rich theoretical background. Presenting essays by a range of the world's foremost Deleuze scholars, and a number of up and coming theorists of his work, the book is composed of in-depth analyses of the key figures in Deleuze's lineage whose significance - as a result of either their obscurity or the complexity of their place in the Deleuzean text - has not previously been well understood. This work will prove indispensable to students and scholars seeking to understand the context from which Deleuze's ideas emerge.Included are essays on Deleuze's relationship to figures as varied as Marx, Simondon, Wronski, Hegel, Hume, Maimon, Ruyer, Kant, Heidegger, Husserl, Reimann, Leibniz, Bergson and Freud.

"Written by the most respected and original scholars in the field, this book will prove essential reading for all those who want to understand in a clear, accessible and more nuanced way Deleuze's complex and multi-faceted relation to key (but sometimes forgotten) figures in the history of philosophy. I cannot imagine a better introduction to Deleuze as philosopher par excellence than this superb collection". --Elizabeth Grosz, Rutgers University

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Shane Mackinlay, Interpreting Excess: Jean-Luc Marion, Saturated Phenomena and Hermeneutics (Fordham)

Jean-Luc Marion's theory of saturated phenomena is one of the most exciting developments in phenomenology in recent decades. It opens up new possibilities for understanding phenomena by beginning from rich and complex examples such as revelation and works of art. Rather than being curiosities or exceptions, these "excessive" or "saturated" phenomena are, in Marion's view, paradigms. He understands more straightforward phenomena, such as the objects of the natural sciences, as reduced and impoverished versions of the excess given in saturated phenomena.Interpreting Excess is a systematic and comprehensive study of Marion's texts on saturated phenomena and their place in his wider phenomenology of givenness, tracing both his theory and his examples across a wide range of texts spanning three decades.The author argues that a rich hermeneutics is implicit in Marion's examples of saturated phenomena but is not set out in his theory. This hermeneutics makes clear that attempts to overthrow the much-criticized sovereignty of the Cartesian ego will remain unsuccessful if they simply reverse the subject-object relation by speaking of phenomena imposing themselves with an overwhelming givenness on a recipient. Instead, phenomena should be understood as appearing in a hermeneutic space already opened by a subject's active reception. Thus, a phenomenon's appearing depends not only on its givenness but also on the way it is interpreted by the receiving subject. All phenomenology is, therefore, necessarily hermeneutic. Interpreting Excess provides an indispensable guide for any study of Marion's saturated phenomena. It is also a significant contribution to ongoing debates about philosophical ways of thinking about God, the relation between hermeneutics and phenomenology, and philosophy "after the subject."

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Catherine Mills, The Philosophy of Agamben (Acumen, 2009)

Giorgio Agamben has gained widespread popularity in recent years for his rethinking of radical politics and his approach to metaphysics and language. However, the extraordinary breadth of historical, legal and philosophical sources which contribute to the complexity and depth of Agamben's thinking can also make his work intimidating. Covering the full range of Agamben's work, this critical introduction outlines Agamben's key concerns: metaphysics, language and potentiality, aesthetics and poetics, sovereignty, law and biopolitics, ethics and testimony, and his powerful vision of post-historical humanity. Highlighting the novelty of Agamben's approach while also situating it in relation to the work of other continental thinkers, "The Philosophy of Agamben" presents a clear and engaging introduction to the work of this original and influential thinker.

"Mills has written an important, original book that will transform the received understanding of Agamben's work in the humanities and social sciences. Her unapologetically philosophical interpretation is required reading for those who wish to assess the true impact and significance of Agamben's interventions in politics, aesthetics and culture." - Paul Fletcher, Lancaster University 

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Timothy O'Leary, Foucault and Fiction: The Experience Book (Continuum)

This monograph develops a unique approach to thinking about the transformative power of literature by drawing upon the much-neglected concept of experience in Foucault's work. For Foucault, an 'experience book' is a book which transforms our experience by acting on us in a particular way. In this book, Timothy O'Leary develops a unique approach to thinking about the transformative power of literature by drawing upon this often neglected concept and applying it to literary texts. Starting from the premise that works of literature are capable of having a profound effect on their audiences, he suggests a way of understanding how these effects are produced.Offering extended analyses of a range of Irish writers, including Swift, Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, Friel and Heaney, O'Leary draws on Foucault's concept of experience as well as the work of Plato, Aristotle, Dewey and Deleuze and recent debates about literature and ethics. Of interest to readers in both philosophy and literature, this study offers new insights into Foucault's mature philosophy and an improved understanding of what it is to read and be affected by a work of fiction.

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Ashley Woodward, Nihilism in Postmodernity: Lyotard, Baudrillard, Vattimo (The Davies Group, 2009)

Nihilism in Postmodernity is an exploration of the nature of the problem of meaninglessness in the contemporary world through the philosophical traditions of nihilism and postmodernism. The author traces the advent of modern nihilism in the works of Nietzsche, Sartre, and Heidegger, before detailing the postmodern transformation of nihilism in the works of three major postmodern thinkers: Lyotard, Baudrillard, and Vattimo. He presents a qualified defense of their positions, arguing that while there is much under-appreciated value in their responses to nihilism, they fail to address adequately the problem of contingency in contemporary life. Drawing on the critical encounters with nihilism in both existentialist and postmodern traditions, the author concludes by staking out future directions for combating meaninglessness.

"In this comprehensive and deep reflection on the problem of nihilism and postmodernity, Woodward offers a convincing and important thesis on the relations of postmodern life and thought to nihilism. He avoids the easy equation of postmodernism with nihilism and instead relies on careful interpretations of Nietzsche, Sartre, Heidegger, Baudrillard, Vattimo and Lyotard to demonstrate that these thinkers combine to offer not only one of the deepest diagnoses of our contemporary condition but also subtle and perhaps essential models for how to live beyond it. This book is proof not only of the high scholarly values of modern philosophical research, but also of its relevance and urgency." -James Williams, University of Dundee

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