By Karin de Boer, R. Sonderegger
Does philosophical critique have a destiny? What are its percentages, limits and presuppositions? This assortment through remarkable students from quite a few traditions, responds to those questions through reading the sorts of philosophical critique that experience formed continental concept from Spinoza and Kant to Marx, Foucault, Derrida and Rancière.
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Extra resources for Conceptions of Critique in Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
For one who follows the judgement once made by Pierre Bayle in his article on Spinoza in the Critical and Historical Dictionary, Spinoza is the perfect example of a dogmatic metaphysician who contradictorily and on the basis of his determinist pantheism behaves as a virtuous atheist. By contrast, I will argue in what follows that in Spinoza’s thought ‘critique’ takes a different path, a path which, in advance, challenges any criticism that presupposes the opposition between phenomenon and thing-in-itself, nature and freedom, causality and purposiveness, body and mind, and imagination and reason.
Let us remember that when Socrates argues that the law that sentences him to death is unjust, he does not therefore grant himself permission to question the legitimacy of the court or, indeed, the state itself. He refuses to flee, even though he understands his punishment as unjust, because, in his words, he belongs to the state, and his very being, the Critique, Dissent, Disciplinarity 25 very possibility of his interlocution, depends upon that state. My sense is that Foucault, if faced with similar circumstances, would take another tack, that he would object to the law as unjust and flee, establishing the independence of his critical attitude from any established governmental authority.
Who is asking this question of an established domain of rationality? Foucault thus mobilises critique against both a mode of rationality and a set of obligations imposed by a specific governmental exercise of authority. The two are clearly linked, but not causally. Modes of rationality do not unilaterally create kinds of governmental obligation, and those governmental obligations do not unilaterally create modes of rationality. And yet in order to question government authority one has to be able to think beyond the domain of the thinkable that is established by that authority and on which that authority relies.
Conceptions of Critique in Modern and Contemporary Philosophy by Karin de Boer, R. Sonderegger