Adventures of the Symbolic: Post-marxism and Radical by Warren Breckman

By Warren Breckman

Marxism's cave in within the 20th century profoundly altered the fashion and substance of Western eu radical notion. to construct a better kind of democratic conception and motion, renowned theorists moved to reject revolution, abandon category for extra fragmented versions of social motion, and bring up the political over the social. Acknowledging the constructedness of society and politics, they selected the "symbolic" as an idea robust adequate to reinvent leftist notion open air a Marxist framework. Following Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Adventures of the Dialectic, which reassessed philosophical Marxism at mid century, Warren Breckman severely revisits those exciting experiments within the aftermath of Marxism.

The post-Marxist suggestion of the symbolic is dynamic and complicated, uncannily echoing the early German Romantics, who first complex a latest belief of symbolism and the symbolic. Hegel and Marx denounced the Romantics for his or her otherworldly and nebulous posture, but post-Marxist thinkers preferred the wealthy capability of the ambiguities and paradoxes the Romantics first well-known. Mapping varied principles of the symbolic between modern thinkers, Breckman lines a desirable mirrored image of Romantic subject matters and resonances, and he explores intensive the trouble to reconcile an intensive and democratic political schedule with a politics that doesn't privilege materialist understandings of the social. attractive with the paintings of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Cornelius Castoriadis, Claude Lefort, Marcel Gauchet, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, and Slavoj Žižek, Breckman uniquely situates those vital theorists inside of 2 hundred years of eu idea and extends their profound relevance to today's political activism.

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Extra resources for Adventures of the Symbolic: Post-marxism and Radical Democracy

Example text

The attempt to link structuralism to Romanticism hits a snag the moment we recall a distinction made by Kant, whose role in the Romantic theory of the symbol was instrumental. For Kant, a symbol creates visibility—it appeals to sensual intuition. ” As Bengt Algot Sørenson, the great student of Romantic symbol theory, suggests, the idea of the symbol almost immediately forked off from Kant. Kant, after all, believed that the symbol makes concepts visible by analogy, not by participation in or identity with the conceptual object, which itself remains sensuously unpresentable; the sensual and the intellectual are permanently divided.

The structuralist understanding of the symbolic is incapable of conceiving forms of critical thought and action that could disrupt hegemonic ideological forms, as structuralism takes these to be constitutive of our subjectivity itself. Post-Marxism involves a confrontation between the relatively rigid semiotic concept of the symbolic order and looser, less formulaic and less deterministic ideas of the symbolic. These more open concepts tap the complicated legacy of the symbolic turn, a history with roots deeper than the twentieth century.

The notion of the symbol carried far too much weight in the Romantic mind to be merely a rhetorical figure. Indeed, it seemed to speak directly to an acute sense of need. It was, after all, a time of crisis, when revolutionary upheaval cast existing convictions into doubt.  The experience of the age—its politics, its social transformations, its dominant modes of analytic rationality inherited from the Enlightenment—produced a widespread sense of division and dualism. ” Such a sensibility placed tremendous strain on existing modes of aesthetic and linguistic representation, which had already become sources of anxiety for Enlightenment thinkers.

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