Logics of Worlds: Being and Event II’ by Alain Badiou

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Log­ics of Worlds is the sequel to Alain Badiou’s much-her­ald­ed mas­ter­piece, Being and Event. Tack­ling the ques­tions that had been left open by Being and Event, and answer­ing many of his crit­ics in the process, Badiou sup­ple­ments his pio­neer­ing treat­ment of mul­ti­ple being with a dar­ing and com­plex the­o­ry of the worlds in which truths and sub­jects make their mark — what he calls a mate­ri­al­ist dialec­tic. The rad­i­cal recast­ing of ontol­ogy in Being and Event is fol­lowed and com­ple­ment­ed here by a thor­ough­go­ing trans­for­ma­tion in our very under­stand­ing of log­ic, con­ceived as a the­o­ry not of being but of appear­ing.

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Capital as Spirit’ by Kojin Karatani

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In his post­script to Cap­i­tal, Marx praised Hegel and expressed his plan to turn the ide­al­ist aspects of Hegel’s dialec­tics on its head. This famous utter­ance is mis­lead­ing, as he had been turn­ing Hegelian log­ic on its head since he was young. Self-alien­ation the­o­ry and his­tor­i­cal mate­ri­al­ism are exam­ples of such instances. How­ev­er, the for­mer was based on Feuer­bach and the lat­ter was led by Engels. Over­turn­ing of Hegelian dialec­tics in Cap­i­tal is deci­sive­ly dif­fer­ent from any of the­se pre­vi­ous attempts and is tru­ly unique and orig­i­nal. Here, Marx was faith­ful to the sys­tem of Hegelian dialec­tics, which cap­tures self-real­iza­tion of the Spir­it, except for the fol­low­ing point; he start­ed his expo­si­tion from the fetish of the com­mod­i­ty (a spir­it attached to the thing) and delin­eat­ed the process of it mor­ph­ing into the fetish of cap­i­tal (the absolute fetish).

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The Origin of Species’ by Charles Darwin


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The Orig­in of Species sold out on the first day of its pub­li­ca­tion in 1859. It is the major book of the 19th cen­tu­ry and one of the most read­able and acces­si­ble of the great rev­o­lu­tion­ary works of the sci­en­tific imag­i­na­tion. Though, in fact, lit­tle read, most peo­ple know what it says-at least they think they do.

The Orig­in of Species was the first mature and per­sua­sive work to explain how species change through the process of nat­u­ral selec­tion. Upon its pub­li­ca­tion, the book began to trans­form atti­tudes about soci­ety and reli­gion and was soon used to jus­ti­fy the philoso­phies of com­mu­nists, social­ists, cap­i­tal­ists, and even Germany’s Nation­al Social­ists. But the most quot­ed respon­se came from Thomas Hen­ry Hux­ley, Darwin’s friend and also a renowned nat­u­ral­ist, who exclaimed, “How extreme­ly stu­pid not to have thought of that!”

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The Philosophy of Set Theory: An Historical Introduction to Cantor’s Paradise’ by Mary Tiles


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A cen­tu­ry ago, Georg Can­tor demon­strat­ed the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a series of trans­finite infinite num­bers. His meth­ods, unortho­dox for the time, enabled him to derive the­o­rems that estab­lished a math­e­mat­i­cal real­i­ty for a hier­ar­chy of infini­ties. Cantor’s inno­va­tion was opposed, and ignored, by the estab­lish­ment; years lat­er, the val­ue of his work was rec­og­nized and appre­ci­at­ed as a land­mark in math­e­mat­i­cal thought, form­ing the begin­ning of set the­o­ry and the foun­da­tion for most of con­tem­po­rary math­e­mat­ics.

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Hegel and the Metaphysical Frontiers of Political Theory’ by Eric Lee Goodfield


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For over one hun­dred and fifty years G.W.F. Hegel’s ghost has haunt­ed the­o­ret­i­cal under­stand­ing and prac­tice. His oppo­nents first, and lat­er his defend­ers, have equal­ly defined their pro­grams again­st and with his. In this way Hegel’s polit­i­cal thought has both sit­u­at­ed and dis­placed mod­ern polit­i­cal the­o­riz­ing.

This book takes the recep­tion of Hegel’s polit­i­cal thought as a lens through which con­tem­po­rary method­olog­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal pre­rog­a­tives are exposed. It traces the nine­teen­th cen­tu­ry ori­gins of the pos­i­tivist revolt again­st Hegel’s lega­cy for­ward to polit­i­cal science’s turn away from philo­soph­i­cal tra­di­tion in the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. The book crit­i­cal­ly reviews the sub­se­quent revi­sion­ist trend that has elim­i­nat­ed his meta­physics from con­tem­po­rary con­sid­er­a­tions of his polit­i­cal thought. It then moves to re-eval­u­ate their rela­tion and defend their insep­a­ra­bil­i­ty in his major work on pol­i­tics: the Phi­los­o­phy of Right. Again­st this back­ground, the book con­cludes with an argu­ment for the inher­ent meta­phys­i­cal dimen­sion of polit­i­cal the­o­riz­ing itself. Good­field takes Hegel’s recep­tion, rep­re­sen­ta­tion, as well as rejec­tion in Anglo-Amer­i­can schol­ar­ship as a mir­ror in which its meta­phys­i­cal pre­sup­po­si­tions of the polit­i­cal are excep­tion­al­ly well reflect­ed. It is through such reflec­tion, he argues, that we may begin to come to terms with them.

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Phenomenology of Spirit’ by Georg W. F. Hegel


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Per­haps one of the most rev­o­lu­tion­ary works of phi­los­o­phy ever pre­sent­ed, The Phe­nom­e­nol­o­gy of Spir­it is Hegel’s 1807 work that is in numer­ous ways extra­or­di­nary. It begins with a Pref­ace, cre­at­ed after the rest of the man­u­script was com­plet­ed, that explains the core of his method and what sets it apart from any pre­ced­ing phi­los­o­phy. The Intro­duc­tion, writ­ten before the rest of the work, sum­ma­rizes and com­pletes Kant’s ideas on skep­ti­cism by ren­der­ing it moot and encour­ag­ing ide­al­ism and self-real­iza­tion. The body of the work is divid­ed into six sec­tions of vary­ing length, enti­tled “Con­scious­ness”, “Self-Con­scious­ness”, “Rea­son”, “Spir­it”, “Reli­gion”, and “Absolute Knowl­edge”. A myr­i­ad of top­ics are dis­cussed, and explained in such a har­mo­nious­ly com­plex way that the method has been ter­med Hegelian dialec­tic. Ulti­mate­ly, the work as a whole is a remark­able study of the mind’s growth from its direct aware­ness to sci­en­tific phi­los­o­phy, prov­ing to be a dif­fi­cult yet high­ly influ­en­tial and endur­ing work.

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Abolishing Freedom: A Plea for a Contemporary Use of Fatalism’ by Frank Ruda

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Push­ing back again­st the con­tem­po­rary myth that free­dom from oppres­sion is free­dom of choice, Frank Ruda resus­ci­tates a fun­da­men­tal lesson from the his­to­ry of philo­soph­i­cal ratio­nal­ism: a prop­er con­cept of free­dom can arise only from a defense of absolute neces­si­ty, utter deter­min­ism, and pre­des­ti­na­tion.

Abol­ish­ing Free­dom demon­strates how the great­est philoso­phers of the ratio­nal­ist tra­di­tion and even their the­o­log­i­cal predecessors—Luther, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Freud—defended not only free­dom but also pre­des­ti­na­tion and divine prov­i­dence. By sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly inves­ti­gat­ing this most­ly over­looked and seem­ing­ly para­dox­i­cal fact, Ruda demon­strates how real free­dom con­cep­tu­al­ly pre­sup­pos­es the assump­tion that the worst has always already hap­pened; in short, fatal­ism. In this brisk and wit­ty inter­ro­ga­tion of free­dom, Ruda argues that only ratio­nal­ist fatal­ism can cure the con­tem­po­rary sick­ness whose para­dox­i­cal name today is free­dom.

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Ontological Catastrophe: Žižek and the Paradoxical Metaphysics of German Idealism’ by Joseph Carew


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In Onto­log­i­cal Cat­a­stro­phe, Joseph Carew takes up the cen­tral ques­tion guid­ing Slavoj Žižek’s phi­los­o­phy: How could some­thing like phe­nom­e­nal real­i­ty emerge out of the mean­ing­less­ness of the Real? Care­ful­ly recon­struct­ing and expand­ing upon his con­tro­ver­sial reac­tu­al­iza­tion of Ger­man Ide­al­ism, Carew argues that Žižek offers us an orig­i­nal, but per­haps ter­ri­fy­ing, respon­se: expe­ri­ence is pos­si­ble only if we pre­sup­pose a pri­or moment of break­down as the onto­ge­net­ic basis of sub­jec­tiv­i­ty. Draw­ing upon resources found in Žižek, Laca­ni­an psy­cho­analy­sis, and post-Kan­tian phi­los­o­phy, Carew thus devel­ops a new crit­i­cal metaphysics—a meta­physics which is a vari­a­tion upon the late Ger­man Ide­al­ist the­me of bal­anc­ing sys­tem and free­dom, real­ism and ide­al­ism, in a sin­gle, self-reflex­ive the­o­ret­i­cal construct—that chal­lenges our under­stand­ing of nature, cul­ture, and the ulti­mate struc­ture of real­i­ty.

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Slavoj Žižek: Interview with Tavis Smiley @ PBS | 1st March 2017


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Tran­script

Tavis Smi­ley: Good evening from Los Ange­les. I’m Tavis Smi­ley.

The role of the pub­lic intel­lec­tu­al in our soci­ety is arguably more impor­tant now than ever before. Believ­ing that polit­i­cal issues are too impor­tant to be left only to politi­cians, Slavoj Žižek is con­sid­ered a glob­al rock star when it comes to philo­soph­i­cal debates.

Whether it’s through the rere­lease of his text, In Defense of Lost Caus­es or his forth­com­ing work, Lenin 2017, the Slove­ni­an native frames the world as we know it through his Marx­ist lens.

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In Defense of Lost Causes’ by Slavoj Žižek

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In this com­bat­ive major work, philo­soph­i­cal sharp­shooter Slavoj Žižek looks for the ker­nel of truth in the total­i­tar­i­an pol­i­tics of the past.

Exam­in­ing Heidegger’s seduc­tion by fas­cism and Foucault’s flir­ta­tion with the Ira­ni­an Rev­o­lu­tion, he sug­gests that the­se were the ‘right steps in the wrong direc­tion.’ On the rev­o­lu­tion­ary ter­ror of Robe­spier­re, Mao and the bol­she­viks, Žižek argues that while the­se strug­gles end­ed in his­toric fail­ure and hor­ror, there was a valu­able core of ide­al­ism lost beneath the blood­shed.

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