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Thought of the outside

Foucault contra Agamben
by / RP 175 (Sep/Oct 2012) / Article

It is gladly believed that a culture is more attached to its values than to its forms, that these can easily be modified, abandoned, taken up again; that only meaning is deeply rooted. This is to misunderstand … that people cling more to ways of seeing, saying, doing, and thinking, than to what they see, …


The walled city

Cannot one dream of a ‘computer hypothesis’?
by / RP 175 (Sep/Oct 2012) / Article

This essay is in many ways a companion piece to Gary Hall’s ‘Pirate Radical Philosophy’ in RP 173 (May/June 2012). Consider it a prequel, or something akin to a video game’s expansion pack, extending and elaborating on the original’s materials. It is a story of the spatial history of escape routes, secret countries, …


Fabrication defect

Fabrication defect: François Laruelle’s philosophical materials
by / RP 175 (Sep/Oct 2012) / Article

François Laruelle, professor of philosophy at Paris X, Nanterre, has been publishing since the early 1970s and now has around twenty book-length titles to his name. English-language reception of his work owes most to the efforts of Ray Brassier, who published an account of Laruelle’s ‘non-philosophy’ in Radical Philosophy in 2003 and critically incorporated aspects …


Disguised as a dog

Cynical Occupy?
by / RP 174 (Jul/Aug 2012) / Article

I take my title and my philosophical cue from a passage in Marx’s 1839 ‘Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy’. I take my artistic cue from the early work of Valie Export. The passage from Marx reads as follows:

As in the history of philosophy there are nodal points which raise philosophy in …


Adorno and the Weather

Critical Theory in an Era of Climate Change
by / RP 174 (Jul/Aug 2012) / Article

In Beckett’s Endgame – about which Adorno wrote an important essay – nature is in ruins (‘corpsed’, as Clov describes it), yet the weather is still important.* The pathetic story that Hamm tells (and he has to bribe Nagg to listen) about a man crawling to him on his belly to ask for help on …


Corrationalism and the problematic

Dossier: Bachelard and the Concept of Problematic
by / RP 173 (May/Jun 2012) / Article, Bachelard and the Concept of Problematic, Dossier

If the fear of being accused of psychologism were not so keenly felt by epistemologists they would no doubt pay more attention to the problem of the acquisition of ideas.* They would then notice that to each new idea there remains attached a perspective of acquisition, an approach structure which develops in a …


What is a problematic?

Dossier: Bachelard and the Concept of Problematic
by / RP 173 (May/Jun 2012) / Article, Bachelard and the Concept of Problematic, Dossier

Gaston Bachelard’s 1949 book, Le Rationalisme appliqué (RA; best translated as Reason Applied), is essential to an understanding of his work, and Bachelard is essential to an understanding of twentieth-century French philosophy. That this book has never been translated into English shows how little the anglophone world is yet acquainted with some key aspects of this corpus. …


What does Bachelard mean by rationalisme appliqué?

Dossier: Bachelard and the Concept of Problematic
by / RP 173 (May/Jun 2012) / Article, Bachelard and the Concept of Problematic, Dossier

While Bachelard’s Rationalisme appliqué can readily be translated as Applied Rationalism, neither the French nor the English are very revealing of the position being advocated. In particular one would be led very far astray if one were to think of rationalism as a philosophical position which suggests that knowledge can be logically deduced from first principles that …


Figures of interpellation in Althusser and Fanon

by / RP 173 (May/Jun 2012) / Article

The text that Althusser published in 1970 under the title ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’, where he puts forward the thesis of the individual’s interpellation as subject, is no doubt one of his most innovative, but it is also particularly disconcerting: its exposition, in exploiting a rhetoric that combines ellipses and brute force, winds up …


Faust on film

Walter Benjamin and the cinematic ontology of Goethe’s Faust 2
by / RP 172 (Mar/Apr 2012) / Article

Isn’t it an affront to Goethe to make a film of Faust, and isn’t there a world of difference between the poem Faust and the film Faust? Yes, certainly. But, again, isn’t there a whole world of difference between a bad film of Faust and a good one? (Walter Benjamin, Arcades Project, N1a, 4)

Whilst the …


Lenin and Gandhi

A missed encounter?
by / RP 172 (Mar/Apr 2012) / Article

The theme I shall address today has all the trappings of an academic exercise.* Still, I would like to attempt to show how it intersects with several major historical, epistemological and ultimately political questions. As a basis for the discussion, I will posit that Lenin and Gandhi are the two greatest figures among revolutionary theorist–practitioners …


Political theology, religious fundamentalism and modern politics

by / RP 171 (Jan/Feb 2012) / Article

In order to define a single and indivisible sovereign political power, Western modernity needed to separate itself from the ecclesiastical power that impeded this unity and indivisibility. Consequently, public expressions of religion were placed under the control of rulers and intimate expressions were relegated to the private realm. This task was broadly supported …


Also Sprach Zapata

Philosophy and resistance
by / RP 171 (Jan/Feb 2012) / Article

Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will: each endeavours to throw hisadversary, and thus render him incapable of further resistance. (Clausewitz, On War, 1832)

Receive our truth in your dancing heart. Zapatalives, also and for always in these lands. (Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee ZNLA, ‘Votan-Zapata or Five Hundred Years …


Philosophy for children

by / RP 170 (Nov/Dec 2011) / Article

A well-orchestrated public relations campaign led primarily by educational charity The Philosophy Shop has helped raise the profile of the philosophy for children movement in the UK significantly over the last few years. Whilst The Philosophy Shop has been promoting its ‘Four Rs’ campaign to make ‘Reasoning’ a central feature of the National …


The patient cannot last long

Dossier: The Althusser–Rancière Controversy
by / RP 170 (Nov/Dec 2011) / Article, Dossier, The Althusser–Rancière Controversy

The presence on our bookshelves of such texts as Louis Althusser’s Reply to John Lewis and Jacques Rancière’s Althusser’s Lesson immediately invites the readers who pick them up to ask themselves what might be at play between titles that so readily mix, miss or specify the genres – if there are any – through which a text …


Reviewing Rancière. Or, the persistence of discrepancies

Dossier: The Althusser–Rancière Controversy
by / RP 170 (Nov/Dec 2011) / Article, Dossier, The Althusser–Rancière Controversy

In the nearly four decades since its original publication, Althusser’s Lesson has acquired a certain mythical aura as the dark precursor of things to come. Even with the wealth of translations of Jacques Rancière’s work that have been published at an increasingly feverish pace over the past few years in the wake of the …


Student problems (1964)

Dossier: The Althusser–Rancière Controversy (with an introduction by Warren Montag)
by / RP 170 (Nov/Dec 2011) / Article, Dossier, The Althusser–Rancière Controversy

What are the theoretical principles of Marxism that should and can come into play in the scientific analysis of the university milieu to which students, along with teachers, research workers and administrators, belong?* Essentially, the Marxist concepts of the technical and social divisions of labour. Marx applied these principles in the analysis of …


Red years: Althusser’s lesson, Rancière’s error and the real movement of history

Dossier: The Althusser–Rancière Controversy
by / RP 170 (Nov/Dec 2011) / Article, Dossier, The Althusser–Rancière Controversy

The dissolution of the organizational forms which are created by the movement, and which disappear when the movement ends, does not reflect the weakness of the movement, but rather its strength. The time of false battles is over. The only conflict that appears real is the one that leads to the destruction of …


The map is the territory

Dossier: What is German Media Philosophy?
by / RP 169 (Sep/Oct 2011) / Article, Dossier, What is German Media Philosophy?

When I read the expression ‘The map is not theterritory’ for the first time, it occurred to me that it contained the quintessence of Anglo-American philosophy of common sense. The defiant insistence on a logic of representation, a common-sense belief in the evidence of an objective ‘reality’ that is prior to all mental representations or …


Robinson in Ruins

New materialism and the archaeological imagination
by / RP 169 (Sep/Oct 2011) / Article

Robinson in Ruins (2010) is the third of Patrick Keiller’s fictionalized documentaries featuring the investigations and struggles of his character, the ‘wandering, cracked scholar’ and political visionary, Robinson.1 The first in the trilogy, London, was released in 1994, and the second, Robinson in Space, in 1997. Together they represent, aesthetically and politically, some of the most enlivening …