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Philosophy

Democracy in What State?

Democracy in What State?

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"Is it meaningful to call oneself a democrat? And if so, how do you interpret the word?"

In responding to this question, eight iconoclastic thinkers prove the rich potential of democracy, along with its critical weaknesses, and reconceive the practice to accommodate new political and cultural realities. Giorgio Agamben traces the tense history of constitutions and their coexistence with various governments. Alain Badiou contrasts current democratic practice with democratic communism. Daniel Bensaid ponders the institutionalization of democracy, while Wendy Brown discusses the democratization of society under neoliberalism. Jean-Luc Nancy measures the difference between democracy as a form of rule and as a human end, and Jacques Rancière highlights its egalitarian nature. Kristin Ross identifies hierarchical relationships within democratic practice, and Slavoj Zizek complicates the distinction between those who desire to own the state and those who wish to do without it.

Concentrating on the classical roots of democracy and its changing meaning over time and within different contexts, these essays uniquely defend what is left of the left-wing tradition after the fall of Soviet communism. They confront disincentives to active democratic participation that have caused voter turnout to decline in western countries, and they address electoral indifference by invoking and reviving the tradition of citizen involvement. Passionately written and theoretically rich, this collection speaks to all facets of modern political and democratic debate.

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet

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In this provocative and headline-making book, Michael Specter confronts the widespread fear of science and its terrible toll on individuals and the planet.
In "Denialism, New Yorker" staff writer Michael Specter reveals that Americans have come to mistrust institutions and especially the institution of science more today than ever before. For centuries, the general view had been that science is neither good nor bad that it merely supplies information and that new information is always beneficial. Now, science is viewed as a political constituency that isn t always in our best interest. We live in a world where the leaders of African nations prefer to let their citizens starve to death rather than import genetically modified grains. Childhood vaccines have proven to be the most effective public health measure in history, yet people march on Washington to protest their use. In the United States a growing series of studies show that dietary supplements and natural cures have almost no value, and often cause harm. We still spend billions of dollars on them. In hundreds of the best universities in the world, laboratories are anonymous, unmarked, and surrounded by platoons of security guards such is the opposition to any research that includes experiments with animals. And pharmaceutical companies that just forty years ago were perhaps the most visible symbol of our remarkable advance against disease have increasingly been seen as callous corporations propelled solely by avarice and greed.
As Michael Specter sees it, this amounts to a war against "progress." The issues may be complex but the choices are not: Are we going to continue to embrace new technologies, along with acknowledging their limitations and threats, or are we ready to slink back into an era of magical thinking? In "Denialism," Specter makes an argument for a new Enlightenment, the revival of an approach to the physical world that was stunningly effective for hundreds of years: What can be understood and reliably repeated by experiment is what nature regarded as true. Now, at the time of mankind s greatest scientific advances and our greatest need for them that deal must be renewed."
Derrida for Beginners

Derrida for Beginners

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In 1966, Jacques Derrida gave a lecture at Johns Hopkins University that cast the entire history of Western Philosophy into doubt. The following year, Derrida published three brilliant but mystifying books that convinced the pollsters that he was the most important philosopher of the late 20th Century. Unfortunately, nobody was sure whether the intellectual movement that he spawned - Deconstruction - advanced philosophy or murdered it.

The truth? - Derrida is one of those annoying geniuses you can take a class on, read half-a-dozen books by and still have no idea what he's talking about. Derrida's 'writing' - confusing doesn't begin to describe it (it's like he's pulling the rug out from under the rug that he pulled out from under philosophy.) But beneath the confusion, like the heartbeat of a bird in your hand, you can feel Derrida's electric genius. It draws you to it; you want to understand it... but it's so confusing.

What you need, Ducky, is Derrida For Beginners by James Powell!

Jim Powell's Derrida For Beginners is the clearest explanation of Derrida and deconstruction presently available in our solar system. Powell guides us through blindingly obscure texts like Of Grammatology (Derrida's deconstruction of Saussure, Lévi Strauss, and Rousseau), Différance (his essay on language and life), Dissemination (his dismantling of Plato, his rap on Mallarmé), and Derrida's other masterpieces (the mere titles can make strong men tremble in terror - Glas, Signéponge/Signsponge, The Post Card, and Specters of Marx.)

Readers will learn the coolest Derridian buzzwords (e.g., intertextuality, binary oppositions, hymen, sous rature, arche-writing, phallogocentrism), the high-and-low lights of deconstruction's history (including the DeMan controvercy), and the various criticisms of Derrida and deconstruction, including Camille Paglia's objection that America, the rock-n-roll nation, isn't formal enough to need deconstruction.

The master, however, begs to disagree:
America is Deconstruction -Jacques Derrida

Devil and Philosophy

Devil and Philosophy

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In The Devil and Philosophy, 34 philosophers explore questions about one of the most recognizable and influential characters (villains?) of all time. From Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion to Bram Stoker's Dracula to Darth Vader to Al Pacino's iconic performance in The Devil's Advocate, this book demonstrates that a little devil goes a long way. From humorous appearances, as in Kevin Smith's film Dogma and Chuck Palahniuk's novels Damned and Doomed, to more villainous appearances, such as Gabriel Byrne's cold outing as Satan in End of Days, The Devil in Philosophy proves that the Devil comes in many forms.

Are there any good arguments for the actual existence of the Devil? Does demonic evil thrive in Gotham City? Can humans really be accountable for all evil? Which truths about the Devil are actual facts? Is Milton correct, in that the Devil believes he is doing good? Through the lenses of Jung, Kant, Kundera, Balkan, Plato, Bradwardine, Aristotle, Hume, Blackburn, Descartes, Lavey, Thoreau, and Aquinas, The Devil and Philosophy takes a philosophical look at one of time's greatest characters.

Dialectic of Enlightenment

Dialectic of Enlightenment

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Dialectic of Enlightenment is undoubtedly the most influential publication of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory. Written during the Second World War and circulated privately, it appeared in a printed edition in Amsterdam in 1947. What we had set out to do, the authors write in the Preface, was nothing less than to explain why humanity, instead of entering a truly human state, is sinking into a new kind of barbarism. Yet the work goes far beyond a mere critique of contemporary events. Historically remote developments, indeed, the birth of Western history and of subjectivity itself out of the struggle against natural forces, as represented in myths, are connected in a wide arch to the most threatening experiences of the present. The book consists in five chapters, at first glance unconnected, together with a number of shorter notes. The various analyses concern such phenomena as the detachment of science from practical life, formalized morality, the manipulative nature of entertainment culture, and a paranoid behavioral structure, expressed in aggressive anti-Semitism, that marks the limits of enlightenment. The authors perceive a common element in these phenomena, the tendency toward self-destruction of the guiding criteria inherent in enlightenment thought from the beginning. Using historical analyses to elucidate the present, they show, against the background of a prehistory of subjectivity, why the National Socialist terror was not an aberration of modern history but was rooted deeply in the fundamental characteristics of Western civilization. Adorno and Horkheimer see the self-destruction of Western reason as grounded in a historical and fateful dialectic between the domination of external nature and society. They trace enlightenment, which split these spheres apart, back to its mythical roots. Enlightenment and myth, therefore, are not irreconcilable opposites, but dialectically mediated qualities of both real and intellectual life. Myth is already enlightenment, and enlightenment reverts to mythology. This paradox is the fundamental thesis of the book. This new translation, based on the text in the complete edition of the works of Max Horkheimer, contains textual variants, commentary upon them, and an editorial discussion of the position of this work in the development of Critical Theory.
Dialogues and Essays

Dialogues and Essays

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Alain de Botton's bestselling The Consolations of Philosophy--later made into a six-part TV series--has helped popularize ancient philosophy and especially the work of Seneca. This superb volume offers the finest translation of Seneca's dialogues and essays in print, capturing the full range
of his philosophical interests. Here the Stoic philosopher outlines his thoughts on how to live in a troubled world. Tutor to the young emperor Nero, Seneca wrote exercises in practical philosophy that draw upon contemporary Roman life and illuminate the intellectual concerns of the day. They also
have much to say to the modern reader, as Seneca ranges widely across subjects such as the shortness of life, tranquility of mind, anger, mercy, happiness, and grief at the loss of a loved one. Seneca's accessible, aphoristic style makes his writing especially attractive as an introduction to Stoic
philosophy, and belies its reputation for austerity and dogmatism. This edition combines a clear and modern translation by John Davies with Tobias Reinhardt's fascinating introduction to Seneca's career, literary style, and influence, including a superb summary of Stoic philosophy and Seneca's
interpretation of it. The book's notes are the fullest of any comparable edition.

About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert
introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph: Fortieth-Anniversary Edition

Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph: Fortieth-Anniversary Edition

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When Diane Arbus died in 1971 at the age of 48, she was already a significant influence--even something of a legend--for serious photographers, although only a relatively small number of her most important pictures were widely known at the time. The publication of Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph in 1972--along with the posthumous retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art--offered the general public its first encounter with the breadth and power of her achievements. The response was unprecedented. The monograph, composed of 80 photographs, was edited and designed by the painter Marvin Israel, Diane Arbus' friend and colleague, and by her daughter Doon Arbus. Their goal in producing the book was to remain as faithful as possible to the standards by which Arbus judged her own work and to the ways in which she hoped it would be seen. Universally acknowledged as a photobook classic, Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph is a timeless masterpiece with editions in five languages, and remains the foundation of her international reputation. A quarter of a century has done nothing to diminish the riveting impact of these pictures or the controversy they inspire. Arbus' photographs penetrate the psyche with all the force of a personal encounter and, in doing so, transform the way we see the world and the people in it.
Dictators Handbook

Dictators Handbook

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A groundbreaking new theory of the real rules of politics: leaders do whatever keeps them in power, regardless of the national interest.
As featured on the viral video Rules for Rulers, which has been viewed over 3 million times.
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith's canonical book on political science turned conventional wisdom on its head. They started from a single assertion: Leaders do whatever keeps them in power. They don't care about the national interest-or even their subjects-unless they have to.
This clever and accessible book shows that democracy is essentially just a convenient fiction. Governments do not differ in kind but only in the number of essential supporters, or backs that need scratching. The size of this group determines almost everything about politics: what leaders can get away with, and the quality of life or misery under them. The picture the authors paint is not pretty. But it just may be the truth, which is a good starting point for anyone seeking to improve human governance.
Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely

Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely

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Best Book of the Year - Kirkus Reviews

A spirited biography of the prophetic and sympathetic philosopher who helped build the foundations of the modern world.

Denis Diderot is often associated with the decades-long battle to bring the world's first comprehensive Encyclopédie into existence. But his most daring writing took place in the shadows. Thrown into prison for his atheism in 1749, Diderot decided to reserve his best books for posterity-for us, in fact. In the astonishing cache of unpublished writings left behind after his death, Diderot challenged virtually all of his century's accepted truths, from the sanctity of monarchy, to the racial justification of the slave trade, to the norms of human sexuality. One of Diderot's most attentive readers during his lifetime was Catherine the Great, who not only supported him financially, but invited him to St. Petersburg to talk about the possibility of democratizing the Russian empire.

In this thematically organized biography, Andrew S. Curran vividly describes Diderot's tormented relationship with Rousseau, his curious correspondence with Voltaire, his passionate affairs, and his often iconoclastic stands on art, theater, morality, politics, and religion. But what this book brings out most brilliantly is how the writer's personal turmoil was an essential part of his genius and his ability to flout taboos, dogma, and convention.

Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison

Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison

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In this brilliant work, the most influential philosopher since Sartre suggests that such vaunted reforms as the abolition of torture and the emergence of the modern penitentiary have merely shifted the focus of punishment from the prisoner's body to his soul.
Discourse on Free Will

Discourse on Free Will

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Desiderius Eramsus (1466/9-1536) was the most renowned scholar of his age, a celebrated humanist and Classicist, and the first teacher of Greek at Cambridge. An influential figure in the Protestant Reformation, though without ever breaking from the Church himself, he satirised both human folly and the corruption of the Church. Martin Luther (1483-1546) was the founder of the German Reformation. His 95 Theses became a manifesto for reform of the Catholic Church and led to his being tried for heresy. He remained in Germany, Professor of Biblical Exegesis at the University of Wittenburg, until his death, publishing a large number of works, including three major treatises and a translation of the New Testament into German. Comprising Erasmus's The Free Will and Luther's The Bondage of the Will, Discourse on Free Will is a landmark text in the history of Protestantism. Encapsulating the perspective on free will of two of the most important figures in the history of Christianity, it r
Discourses, Fragments, Handbook (Critical)

Discourses, Fragments, Handbook (Critical)

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'About things that are within our power and those that are not.'

Epictetus' Discourses have been the most widely read and influential of all writings of Stoic philosophy, from antiquity onwards. They set out the core ethical principles of Stoicism in a form designed to help people put them into practice and to use them as a basis for leading a good human life.
Epictetus was a teacher, and a freed slave, whose discourses have a vivid informality, animated by anecdotes and dialogue. Forceful, direct, and challenging, their central message is that the basis of happiness is up to us, and that we all have the capacity, through sustained reflection and hard
work, of achieving this goal. They still speak eloquently to modern readers seeking meaning in their own lives.

This is the only complete modern translation of the Discourses, together with the Handbook or manual of key themes, and surviving fragments. Robin Hard's accurate and accessible translation is accompanied by Christopher Gill's full introduction and comprehensive notes.

About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert
introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

Dissemination

Dissemination

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"The English version of Dissemination [is] an able translation by Barbara Johnson . . . . Derrida's central contention is that language is haunted by dispersal, absence, loss, the risk of unmeaning, a risk which is starkly embodied in all writing. The distinction between philosophy and literature therefore becomes of secondary importance. Philosophy vainly attempts to control the irrecoverable dissemination of its own meaning, it strives--against the grain of language--to offer a sober revelation of truth. Literature--on the other hand--flaunts its own meretriciousness, abandons itself to the Dionysiac play of language. In Dissemination--more than any previous work--Derrida joins in the revelry, weaving a complex pattern of puns, verbal echoes and allusions, intended to 'deconstruct' both the pretension of criticism to tell the truth about literature, and the pretension of philosophy to the literature of truth."--Peter Dews, New Statesman
Distressed Body

Distressed Body

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Bodily pain and distress come in many forms. They can well up from within at times of serious illness, but the body can also be subjected to harsh treatment from outside. The medical system is often cold and depersonalized, and much worse are conditions experienced by prisoners in our age of mass incarceration, and by animals trapped in our factory farms. In this pioneering book, Drew Leder offers bold new ways to rethink how we create and treat distress, clearing the way for more humane social practices.

Leder draws on literary examples, clinical and philosophical sources, his medical training, and his own struggle with chronic pain. He levies a challenge to the capitalist and Cartesian models that rule modern medicine. Similarly, he looks at the root paradigms of our penitentiary and factory farm systems and the way these produce distressed bodies, asking how such institutions can be reformed. Writing with coauthors ranging from a prominent cardiologist to long-term inmates, he explores alternative environments that can better humanize--even spiritualize--the way we treat one another, offering a very different vision of medical, criminal justice, and food systems. Ultimately Leder proposes not just new answers to important bioethical questions but new ways of questioning accepted concepts and practices.

Divine Within

Divine Within

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"A genius . . . a writer who spent his life decrying the onward march of the Machine." -- The New Yorker

Brave New World author Aldous Huxley on enlightenment and the ultimate reality.

In this anthology of twenty-six essays and other writings, Aldous Huxley discusses the nature of God, enlightenment, being, good and evil, religion, eternity, and the divine. Huxley consistently examined the spiritual basis of both the individual and human society, always seeking to reach an authentic and clearly defined experience of the divine. Featuring an introduction by renowned religious scholar Huston Smith, this celebration of ultimate reality proves relevant and prophetic in addressing the spiritual hunger so many feel today.

Do Humankinds Best Days Lie Ahead

Do Humankinds Best Days Lie Ahead

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Progress. It is one of the animating concepts of the modern era. From the Enlightenment onwards, the West has had an enduring belief that through the evolution of institutions, innovations, and ideas, the human condition is improving. This process is supposedly accelerating as new technologies, individual freedoms, and the spread of global norms empower individuals and societies around the world. But is progress inevitable? Its critics argue that human civilization has become different, not better, over the last two and a half centuries. What is seen as a breakthrough or innovation in one period becomes a setback or limitation in another. In short, progress is an ideology not a fact; a way of thinking about the world as opposed to a description of reality.

In the seventeenth semi-annual Munk Debates, which was held in Toronto on November 6, 2015, pioneering cognitive scientist Steven Pinker and bestselling author Matt Ridley squared off against noted philosopher Alain de Botton and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell to debate whether humankind's best days lie ahead.

Do You Think What You Think You Think?

Do You Think What You Think You Think?

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Explore the gray areas in your gray matter with philosophical brainteasers from armchair philosopher and bestselling author of The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten, Julian Baggini.

Is your brain ready for a thorough philosophical health check?

Julian Baggini, the author of the international bestseller The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten, and his fellow founding editor of The Philosopher's Magazine Jeremy Stangroom have some thought-provoking questions about your thinking: Is what you believe coherent and consistent, or a jumble of contradictions? If you could design a God, what would He, She, or It be like? And how will you fare on the tricky terrain of ethics when your taboos are under the spotlight?

Do You Think What You Think You Think features a dozen philosophical quizzes guaranteed to make armchair philosophers uncomfortably shift in their seats. Fun, challenging, and surprising, this book will enable you to discover the you you never knew you were.

Does Santa Exist

Does Santa Exist

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A humorous philosophical investigation into the existence of Santa from a co-executive producer of The Big Bang Theory--the perfect stocking stuffer for the deep thinker on everyone's list.

Emmy award-winning comedy writer and philosophy scholar Eric Kaplan brilliantly turns a search for the truth about Santa into a laugh-out-loud metaphysical romp. Surveying everything from the analytic philosophy of Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein to Buddhism, Taoism, and Kabbalah, Kaplan alights on comedy--including The Big Bang Theory and Monty Python--as the best way to resolve life's most profound paradoxes, including the existence of perfect moments, Santa, and even God.