Subjectivity is one of the central issues of twentieth-century philosophy, literature and art. Modernism, which “discovered” the subconscious, put an end to the belief in the Cartesian Subject as the autonomous centre of knowledge and self-consciousness. Instead, the subject became something uncontrollable, unreliable, incomplete and fragmentary. The attempts to recapture the unity of the subject led to the existential quest and the flight into ideology (nazism, communism).
Postmodernism, the cultural movement of the second half of the twentieth century, did not consider the subject any longer as an important category. Attention was focused on the “I” and the “Other”, on dialogism and polyphonism (Bakhtin). Ideology lost its appeal and so did the “great” stories (Lyotard).
In this issue of
Avant-Garde Critical Studies the problem of subjectivity in twentieth-century culture is discussed from various angles by specialists in the field of philosophy, literature, film, music and dance.
The notion of subjectivity is one of the most fundamental notions for modern philosophy that only gains in importance in present-day discussions. This volume gathers essays from both young and senior researchers that examine which role subjectivity plays in both classical and contemporary phenomenology. The essays discuss the importance of a phenomenological account of subjectivity for the nature and the status of phenomenology but they also discuss how the phenomenological account of the subject offers new perspectives on themes from practical philosophy and from the philosophy of mind. Thus, this volume does not only show how multifaceted the question of subjectivity is but also how important this theme continues to be for present-day philosophy.
Subjectivity in Language and in Discourse deals with the linguistic encoding and discursive construction of subjectivity across languages and registers. The aim of this book is to complement the highly specialized, parallel and often separate research strands on the phenomenon of subjectivity with a volume that gives a forum to diverse theoretical vantage points and methodological approaches, presenting research results in one place which otherwise would most likely be found in substantially different publications and would have to be collected from many different sources. Taken together, the chapters in this volume reflect the rich diversity in contemporary research on the phenomenon of subjectivity. They cover numerous languages, colloquial, academic and professional registers, spoken and written discourse, diverse communities of practice, speaker and interaction types, native and non-native language use, and Lingua Franca communication. The studies investigate both already well explored languages and registers (e.g. American English, academic writing, conversation) and with respect to subjectivity, less studied languages (Greek, Italian, Persian, French, Russian, Swedish, Danish, German, Australian English) as well as many different communicative settings and contexts, ranging from conference talk, promotional business writing, academic advising, disease counselling to internet posting, translation, and university classroom and research interview talk. Some contributions focus on individual linguistic devices, such as pronouns, intensifiers, comment clauses, modal verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and their capacity of introducing the speaker's subjective perspective in discourse and interactional sequence; others examine the role of larger functional categories, such as hedging and metadiscourse, or interactional sequencing.
Post-Deconstructive Subjectivity and History, Aniruddha Chowdhury argues that deconstruction is not only not a dissolution of subject, as it is often opined, but an affirmation of the singular (ethical) subject and singular history, singularity conceived as alterity, difference and non-identity. Part of the emphasis of the singular history is to conceive the historical relation as figural and as one of repletion with difference.
One of the distinctive aspects of the book is that it not only focuses on the tradition of phenomenology, but also extends deconstruction to critical theory, and postcolonial theory.
Through his intimate reading of the canonical texts of the Continental philosophical tradition (phenomenology and critical theory), and postcolonial thought Chowdhury illuminates pertinent issues in Continental thought, and postcolonial theory.
With critical reference to Eisenstadt’s theory of “multiple modernities,”
Muslim Subjectivities in Global Modernity discusses the role of religion in the modern world. The case studies all provide examples illustrating the ambition to understand how Islamic traditions have contributed to the construction of practices and expressions of modern Muslim selfhoods. In doing so, they underpin Eisenstadt’s argument that religious traditions can play a pivotal role in the construction of historically different interpretations of modernity. At the same time, however, they point to a void in Eisenstadt’s approach that does not problematize the multiplicity of forms in which this role of religious traditions plays out historically. Consequently, the authors of the present volume focus on the multiple modernities within Islam, which Eisenstadt’s theory hardly takes into account.
The Politics of Transindividuality re-examines social relations and subjectivity through the concept of transindividuality. Transindividuality is understood as the mutual constitution of individuality and collectivity, and as such it intersects with politics and economics, philosophical speculation and political practice. While the term transindividuality is drawn from the work of Gilbert Simondon, this book views it broadly, examining such canonical figures as Spinoza, Hegel, and Marx, as well as contemporary debates involving Etienne Balibar, Bernard Stiegler, and Paolo Virno. Through these intersecting aspects and interpretations of transindividuality the book proposes to examine anew the intersection of politics and economics through their mutual constitution of affects, imagination, and subjectivity.
, Method and Revolutionary Subjectivity, Guido Starosta develops a materialist inquiry into the social and historical determinations of revolutionary subjectivity. Through a methodologically-minded critical reconstruction of the Marxian critique of political economy, from the early writings up to the
Capital, this study shows that the outcome of the historical movement of the objectified form of social mediation, which has turned into the very alienated subject of social life (i.e., capital), is to develop, as its own immanent determination, the constitution of the (self-abolishing) working class as a revolutionary subject. A crucial element in this intellectual endeavour is the focus on the intrinsic connection between the specifically dialectical
form of social science and its radical transformative
In this book, Professor Simuț shows how Christian theology started to be understood as a Gnostic philosophy of religion in the thought of the 19th-century scholar F. C. Baur. Although Baur was seen traditionally as a theologian and biblical exegete, Simuț argues that he was in fact a philosopher of religion, and it was his philosophical reading of Christian theology that informed his biblical preoccupations. Specifically, Baur’s perspective on Christian theology was heavily influenced by Jakob Böhme’s esoteric theosophy and Hegel’s religious philosophy in some key issues such as creation, Lucifer, dualism and the connection between spirit and matter coupled with that between philosophy and religion.
Phenomenologies of Violence presents phenomenology as an important method to investigate violence, its various forms, meanings, and consequences for human existence. On one hand, it seeks to view violence as a genuine philosophical problem, i.e., beyond the still prevalent instrumental, cultural and structural explanations. On the other hand, it provides the reader with accounts on the many faces of violence, ranging from physical, psychic, structural and symbolic violence to forms of social as well as organized violence.
In this volume it is argued that phenomenology, which has not yet been used in interdisciplinary research on violence, offers basic insights into the constitution of violence, our possibilities of understanding, and our actions to contain it.
Contributors include:Michael D. Barber, Debra Bergoffen, Robert Bernasconi, James Dodd, Eddo Evink, Kathryn T. Gines, James Mensch, Stefan Nowotny, Michael Staudigl, Anthony J. Steinbock, and Nicolas de Warren.
This book grapples with questions at the core of philosophy and social theory – Who am I? Who are we? How are we to live? That is, questions of what humans are capable of, the ‘nature’ of our relationships to each other and to the world around us, and how we should live. They appear to be both prohibitive and seductive – that they are ultimately irresolvable makes it tempting to leave them alone, yet we cannot do that either. This interdisciplinary investigation proceeds primarily as a dialogue with Cornelius Castoriadis and Charles Taylor.