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September 06 2012

The Missing Links | 3ammagazine 2012-09-02

Christopher Hitchens is a hard act to follow. * Slavoj Žižek on the politics of Batman. * Žižek in conversation with Jonathan Derbyshire. * Full Stop continue their ‘Thinking the Present’ series with an interview with Albert Toscano. * Judith Butler responds to the Jerusalem Post‘s claims of anti-semitism. * What Pussy Riot taught the world. * Hanging out vs. being hanged, HTMLGIANT interview Jarett Kobek. * Niven Govinden interviewed. * You could spend your whole life making films & not invent a character as complex or endearing as Werner Herzog. * From Beatrix Potter to Sebald, Patrick Keiller chooses 10 books whose images are intrinsic to the work. * The accidental history of the @ symbol. * Steven Pinker explains the neuroscience of swearing. * Some 3 million books & countless artifacts were destroyed when Sarajevo’s National Library was burned to the ground 20 years ago. It was a clear attack on the cultural identity of a people. * How time is measured by memory. * Sven Birkerts‘ essay on Sebald’s Vertigo. * Teju Cole on Rubens as a compendium. * And Teju Cole in A Room for London. * Harry Mathews on finding Marie Chaix. * A critic’s manifesto. * 10 things Martin Amis loves to hate. * Against acknowledgments (& Helen DeWitt‘s defence). * This Space on the new Paul Auster. * George Saunders interviewed. * On promiscuous reading. * “The reader is taking these splotches of ink & making them real…a good reader is an artist.” Ron Rash. * The melancholy worlds of Béla Tarr. * Brian Dillon on Barthes (via @TheWhiteReview). * “I seek out subjects that plug into my own weaknesses & my own past.” John Jeremiah Sullivan.

Reposted from02myhumsci-01 02myhumsci-01

Judith Butler | differentia.wordpress ( & yt-playlist - Arte docu) 2012-09-03

“Der Mythos von der conditio humana stützt sich auf eine sehr alte Mystifikation, die seit jeher darin besteht, auf den Grund der Geschichte die Natur zu setzen.” Roland Barthes: Die große Familie der Menschen. In, ders.: Mythen des Alltags. Frankfurt/Main 1964, S. 17

Das Aktivierungspotenzial transzendentaltheoretischer Vorbehalte gegen eine soziale Wirklichkeit, die von einer faustischen Gelehrsamkeit als noch immer aufklärungsbedürfitg in Sachen Menschenrecht qualifiziert wird, dürfte auch in Zukunft nicht so schnell erschöpft sein.
Die Menge der Zumutungen und Kränkungen, die das Subjekt einerseits zu fürchten hat, und das Ausmaß an säkularen Utopien, auf die es andererseits hoffen kann, haben im Laufe der Entwicklung der modernen Gesellschaft Strukturen geschaffen, die sowohl diese Ängste als auch entsprechende Hoffnungen in einen stabilen Kokon eingewebt haben, welcher sicherstellt, dass beides für den Fortgang eines sozialen Differenzierungsprozesses unverzichtbar bleibt. Diese Ängste und Hoffnungen können nicht ersetzt werden, weil jede soziale Wirklichkeit immer angewiesen bleibt auf lebende, auf Lust und Schmerz empfindende Menschenkörper (was auch für Cyborgs gelten wird).
Das liefert Rechtfertigungsgründe für einen philosophischen Materialismus, welcher aber seine Erklärungsfähigkeit verliert, sobald Rechtfertigungstheorien, zu denen auch die von Judith Butler gehört, sich auf Differenz festlegen. Denn ein Recht auf Differenz ist soviel wie die Einsicht in eine Pflicht zu sterben. In dieser Hinsicht gibt es nichts mehr zu rechtfertigen.
So wenig Sterblichkeit eine sozial durchgesetzte Pflicht ist, so wenig ist Differenz ein sozial festgelegtes Recht. Wird aber dennoch ein Kampfgeschrei darüber angestimmt, so darf man sich fragen, was das eigentlich noch soll.

Das spricht nicht dafür, dass eine Lösung für die conditio humana eine reale Chance hätte, sondern nur, dass diese Unverzichbarkeit die Chance liefert, den transzendentalphilosophischen Wunsch- und Alpträumen mit Indifferenz zu begegnen. Da die Natur sich nicht um mich kümmert, was sollte mich da die Natur kümmern? Nicht nur eine Frage für ökologisch bewusste Konsumenten …

Reposted from02myhumsci-01 02myhumsci-01

The great divergence | understandingsociety.blogspot 2012-09-01

It has been ten years since Ken Pomeranz published The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy., a book that forced some real rethinking about the economic history in Europe and China. Along with Bin Wong in China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience, he called for a deep questioning of many of the basic premises of much twentieth century economic history, which was premised on the backwardness and stagnation of China and the dynamism of Western Europe. Industrial revolution and sustained economic growth were unique products of the west, and China was incapable of these transformations at the beginning of the modern epoch -- 1600, let us say.

So the central problematic for "European exceptionalism" was to identify some set of features of western society lacking in China that could account for takeoff. Was it merchant culture? Perhaps Newtonian science? Was it European family and reproductive behavior? Or perhaps it was some feature of Christianity?

Pomeranz doesn't like these theories. More basically, he doesn't accept the premise of European economic superiority in 1600, whether in institutions or ideology. He considers agriculture first and holds that Chinese agriculture was as productive in terms of land and labor as English farming; it was not undergoing involution through population increase; and it supported a rural standard of living that was competitive with that of Europe and England, his primary focus.

Pomeranz doesn't doubt that there were sharp differences in European and Chinese economic development in the 18th century. This is the "great divergence" to which he refers. But he doubts that there are grand socio-cultural explanations for this fact; instead he focuses on contingent conjunctival circumstances that gave England a lead that it maintained for 200 years. These include the fortuitous location of coal in Britain, the fact of New World wealth, and the returns if slave labor in North America. None of these is a deep systemic factor but rather a lucky break for Britain.

Bin Wong adds a different theme to the debate. He recognizes that Europe and China possessed complex political-economic systems that were different from each other. And he agrees that these systems had consequences for development. But he agrees with Pomeranz that neither system is inherently superior. And he calls for an economic history that pays attention to the differences as well as similarities. Each process of development can be illuminated by comparison to the other.

So where is the debate today? This was the focus of a productive conference at Tsinghua University in Beijing last week. Some of the primary contributors to economic history participated, including Robert Allen, Bozhong Li, and James Lee. It isn't possible to summarize the papers, but several themes emerged. The most basic is the need to bring substantially more factual detail to the debate. What we need at this point isn't more theorizing about large causes; it is more fine grained factual discovery across both Europe and China.

Three areas in particular have gotten much more factual in the debate in ten years. the first is agricultural productivity. Historians like Robert Allen and Bozhong Li have substantially sharpened our knowledge of the farm economies of England and China.

Second is the question of the historical standard of living in various places. Essentially this depends on price data, wage data, and a system for comparing consumption across countries. Here too there has been a great refinement of our knowledge. Robert Allen has contributed much of this.

Third is population behavior. The Malthusian theory of the difference between China and Europe is a stumbling block, and of course this theory was created in a fact-free universe. Now comparative historical demography has advanced a long way thanks to researchers like James Lee. The Eurasian Population and Family History Project has now refuted the Malthusian view.

A key idea in the Pomeranz debate is Philip Huang's idea the Chinese agriculture was "involutionary". The work provided by Bozhong Li demonstrates that this theory is simply incorrect when applied to the lower Yangzi River delta. Moreover, China's development after 1970 makes the theory implausible in any case. As Li pointed out at the conference, "It is inconceivable China's modern development could have occurred in the conditions of involution described in the debate." China was clearly not caught in an inescapable involutionary trap.

So there is work to be done still on the origins of the great transformation. And it is valuable for this work to take place with a global and comparative perspective. But most valuable will be detailed factual research that adds significantly to what we know about the past.

Reposted from02myhumsci-01 02myhumsci-01

Henry, Marxist political economy | driftwork.tumblr

…. There are thus two readings of political economy. The first integrates it with the general movement of the sciences towards scienticity and towards the exclusive reign of objectivity through increased idealisation and mathematization. The critique of political economy is the critique of everything that would retain within itself some relations to human beings, life, and individuals. It is a critique of everything that is irreducible  to the objective, to objective forms, to scientific concepts like productive forces,  relations of production etc, etc. This is a reading of traditional Marxism with its scientific and positivistic aim that culminates in structuralism.  The second the critique of political economy in the (other) Marxist sense, is no longer a naive adherence to scientific construction; instead it is really its deconstruction. It sees the whole economy as a simple value for life, as Ersatz, because each economic entity only has meaning in reference to life, and more essentially; because it proceeds from life at each instance….

Michel Henry - Barbarism. (from the section the ideologies of barbarism)

Henry goes onto say that Marxism is infected with the “defective principles of the Galilean project” (with, that is, science and scientism) where  reality and truth are not found in life but beyond it in another world…. Even though he has already stated that the “second” the critique of political economy does not adhere to this barbaric transcendental project, still Henry wants to say that because history exists there are individuals is not the same as to say because there are living individuals  there is a history…

But of course he is wrong they are equivalent and can and must be understood as the same.


Reposted from02myhumsci-01 02myhumsci-01
Entretien avec Jocelyn Benoist (1) : Autour des Eléments de philosophie réaliste - actu philosophia

"Né en 1968, professeur à l’Université Paris I, membre de l’Institut Universitaire de France, directeur des Archives Husserl de Paris, Jocelyn Benoist est l’auteur de douze ouvrages, l’éditeur scientifique de quatorze autres ouvrages, et l’auteur de cent quatre vingt articles à ce jour. Il a longtemps œuvré à l’interface de la phénoménologie et de la philosophie analytique, de la philosophie du langage et de la philosophie de l’esprit, et s’est en particulier imposé comme un des principaux spécialistes de la philosophie autrichienne et des origines de la phénoménologie."

// continuez à lire:

Reposted from02myhumsci-01 02myhumsci-01
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