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By Cary Wolfe

Specified in its collation of significant theorists hardly ever thought of jointly, severe Environments comprises specific discussions of the paintings of Richard Rorty, Walter Benn Michaels, Stanley Cavell, Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela, Niklas Luhmann, Donna Haraway, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Fredric Jameson, and others, and levels throughout fields from feminist philosophy of technological know-how to the idea of ideology. delivering American readers a complete advent to structures concept and responding to the common cost of relativism leveled opposed to it, Wolfe’s paintings will increase and encourage new different types of serious proposal.

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Extra resources for Critical Environments: Postmodern Theory and the Pragmatics of the “Outside”

Sample text

The realist charge usually takes the following form: “How does one rule out categorical theories in principle without getting categorical? ”31 This epistemological objection often leads, in turn, to the sort of sweeping political deduction we find exemplified by the Marxian theorist Norman Geras: “If there is no truth, there is no injustice. Stated less simplistically, if truth is wholly relativized or internalized to particular discourses or language games or social practices, there is no injustice.

In Michaels’s reading of “desire,” the self is constituted as a fundamental instability, a “double identity” or “internal difference” (22) generated by the market and its fundamental logics of property and exchange. The subject of naturalism, in other words, can know no completion or self-identity because it is constituted by difference. ”8 The fundamental instability of the market creates a self who therefore has, as Michaels puts it, “an insatiable appetite for representation” (GS 19), which manifests itself in the belief that gold is 4,5 the site of natural economic value, the text is the site of stable inherent meaning apprehended by the critic’s adequated critique, and the subject is the site of inalienable self-possession and free self-proprietorship.

12 But that is far from saying (as Michaels’s critique implies) that “ideology” is no longer a useful or powerful concept. 13 And after Marx, the sort of ideology and its attendant subject characterized by Michaels has been rejected by many of the most influential later Marxist theorists themselves. 14 Indeed, if ideology is, in Althusser’s words, “a ‘lived’ relation to the real,” an indirect and oblique “relation of a relation”15 (of subject to an imaginary representation, and of the imaginary representation to its real conditions of existence), then how could it be otherwise?

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