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Philosophy

Walter Benjamin: Images, the Creaturely, and the Holy

Walter Benjamin: Images, the Creaturely, and the Holy

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Arguing that the importance of painting and other visual art for Benjamin's epistemology has yet to be appreciated, Weigel undertakes the first systematic analysis of their significance to his thought. She does so by exploring Benjamin's dialectics of secularization, an approach that allows Benjamin to explore the simultaneous distance from and orientation towards revelation and to deal with the difference and tensions between religious and profane ideas. In the process, Weigel identifies the double reference of 'life' to both nature and to a 'supernatural' sphere as a guiding concept of Benjamin's writings. Sensitive to the notorious difficulty of translating his language, she underscores just how much is lost in translation, particularly with regard to religious connotations. The book thus positions Benjamin with respect to the other European thinkers at the heart of current discussions of sovereignty and martyrdom, of holy and creaturely life. It corrects misreadings, including Agamben's staging of an affinity between Benjamin and Schmitt, and argues for the closeness of Benjamin's work to that of Aby Warburg, with whom Benjamin unsuccessfully attempted an intellectual exchange.
Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 1: 1913-1926

Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 1: 1913-1926

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Walter Benjamin was one of the most original and important critical voices of the twentieth century, but until now only a few of his writings have been available in English. Harvard University Press has now undertaken to publish a significant portion of his work in definitive translation, under the general editorship of Michael W. Jennings. This volume, the first of three, will at last give readers of English a true sense of the man and the many facets of his thought. (The magnum opus of Benjamin's Paris years, The Arcades Project, has been published in a separate volume.) Walter Benjamin emerged from the head-on collision of an idealistic youth movement and the First World War, which Benjamin and his close friends thought immoral. He walked away from the wreck scarred yet determined "to be considered as the principal critic of German literature." But the scene, as he found it, was dominated by "talented fakes," so--to use his words--"only a terrorist campaign would I suffice" to effect radical change. This book offers the record of the first phase of that campaign, culminating with "One Way Street," one of the most significant products of the German avant-garde of the Twenties. Against conformism, homogeneity, and gentrification of all life into a new world order, Benjamin made the word his sword. Volume I of the Selected Writings brings together essays long and short, academic treatises, reviews, fragments, and privately circulated pronouncements. Fully five-sixths of this material has never before been translated into English. The contents begin in 1913, when Benjamin, as an undergraduate in imperial Germany, was president of a radical youth group, and take us through 1926, when he had already begun, with his explorations of the world of mass culture, to emerge as a critical voice in Weimar Germany's most influential journals. The volume includes a number of his most important works, including "Two Poems by Friedrich Hölderlin," "Goethe's Elective Affinities," "The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism," "The Task of the Translator," and "One Way Street." He is as compelling and insightful when musing on riddles or children's books as he is when dealing with weightier issues such as the philosophy of language, symbolic logic, or epistemology. We meet Benjamin the youthful idealist, the sober moralist, the political theorist, the experimentalist, the translator, and, above all, the virtual king of criticism, with his magisterial exposition of the basic problems of aesthetics. Benjamin's sentences provoke us to return to them again and again, luring us as though with the promise of some final revelation that is always being postponed. He is by turns fierce and tender, melancholy and ebullient; he is at once classically rooted, even archaic, in his explorations of the human psyche and the world of things, and strikingly progressive in his attitude toward society and what he likes to call the organs of the collective (its architectures, fashions, signboards). Throughout, he displays a far-sighted urgency, judging the present on the basis of possible futures. And he is gifted with a keen sense of humor. Mysterious though he may sometimes be (his Latvian love, Asia Lacis, once described him as a visitor from another planet), Benjamin remains perhaps the most consistently surprising and challenging of critical writers.
Water Ethics: A Values Approach to Solving the Water Crisis

Water Ethics: A Values Approach to Solving the Water Crisis

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This book introduces the idea that ethics are an intrinsic dimension of any water policy, program, or practice, and that understanding what ethics are being acted out in water policies is fundamental to an understanding of water resource management. Thus in controversies or conflicts over water resource allocation and use, an examination of ethics can help clarify the positions of conflicting parties as preparation for constructive negotiations.

The author shows the benefits of exposing tacit values and motivations and subjecting these to explicit public scrutiny where the values themselves can be debated. The aim of such a process is to create the proverbial 'level playing field', where values favoring environmental sustainability are considered in relation to values favoring short-term exploitation for quick economic stimulus (the current problem) or quick protection from water disasters (through infrastructure which science suggests is not sustainable).

The book shows how new technologies, such as drip irrigation, or governance structures, such as river basin organizations are neither "good" nor "bad" in their own right, but can serve a range of interests which are guided by ethics. A new ethic of coexistence and synergies with nature is possible, but ultimately depends not on science, law, or finances but on the values we choose to adopt. The book includes a wide range of case studies from countries including Australia, India, Philippines, South Africa and USA. These cover various contexts including water for agriculture, urban, domestic and industrial use, the rights of indigenous people and river, watershed and ecosystem management.

Way I Act

Way I Act

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The Way I Act explores thirteen ways of behaving. The friendly verses and bold illustrations convey many positive ideas of how to act in a variety of situations. In the companion book, The Way I Feel, children learned that feelings come and go and simply are.

A little older now, they are ready to think about the ability they have to control how things turn out. Like The Way I Feel, this book is ideal for children with autism.
(Ages 4-9)

Way of Zen

Way of Zen

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The Way of Zen begins as a succinct guide through the histories of Buddhism and Taoism leading up to the development of Zen Buddhism, which drew deeply from both traditions. It then goes on to paint a broad but insightful picture of Zen as it was and is practiced, both as a religion and as an element of diverse East Asian arts and disciplines. Watts's narrative clears away the mystery while enhancing the mystique of Zen.
Since the first publication of this book in 1957, Zen Buddhism has become firmly established in the West. As Zen has taken root in Western soil, it has incorporated much of the attitude and approach set forth by Watts in The Way of Zen, which remains one of the most important introductory books in Western Zen.
"No one has given us such a concise . . . introduction to the whole history of this Far Eastern development of Buddhist thought as Alan Watts, in the present, highly readable work." --Joseph Campbell
Ways of Seeing

Ways of Seeing

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"The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled" -- so opens John Berger's revolutionary million-copy bestseller on how to look at art

John Berger's Ways of Seeing is one of the most stimulating and the most influential books on art in any language. First published in 1972, it was based on the BBC television series about which the Sunday Times critic commented: This is an eye-opener in more ways than one: by concentrating on how we look at paintings . . . he will almost certainly change the way you look at pictures. By now he has.

We Have Only This Life to Live: The Selected Essays of Jean-Paul Sartre, 1939-1975 (NYRB)

We Have Only This Life to Live: The Selected Essays of Jean-Paul Sartre, 1939-1975 (NYRB)

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Jean-Paul Sartre was a man of staggering gifts, whose accomplishments as philosopher, novelist, playwright, biographer, and activist still command attention and inspire debate. Sartre's restless intelligence may have found its most characteristic outlet in the open-ended form of the essay. For Sartre the essay was an essentially dramatic form, the record of an encounter, the framing of a choice. Whether writing about literature, art, politics, or his own life, he seizes our attention and drives us to grapple with the living issues that are at stake.

We Have Only This Life to Live is the first gathering of Sartre's essays in English to draw on all ten volumes of Situations, the title under which Sartre collected his essays during his life, while also featuring previously uncollected work, including the reports Sartre filed during his 1945 trip to America. Here Sartre writes about Faulkner, Bataille, Giacometti, Fanon, the liberation of France, torture in Algeria, existentialism and Marxism, friends lost and found, and much else. We Have Only This Life to Live provides an indispensable, panoramic view of the world of Jean-Paul Sartre.

We Robots

We Robots

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In the tradition of Jaron Lanier's You Are Not a Gadget, a rousing, sharply argued--and, yes, inspiring!--reckoning with our blind faith in technology

Can technology solve all our problems? Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many of our most famous journalists, pundits, and economists seem to think so. According to them, "intelligent machines" and big data will free us from work, educate our children, transform our environment, and even make religion more user-friendly. This is the story they're telling us: that we should stop worrying and love our robot future.

But just because you tell a story over and over again doesn't make it true. Curtis White, one of our most brilliant and perceptive social critics, knows all about the danger of a seductive story, and in We, Robots, he tangles with the so-called thinkers who are convinced that the future is rose-colored and robotically enhanced.

With tremendous erudition and a punchy wit, White argues that we must be skeptical of anyone who tries to sell us on technological inevitability. And he gives us an alternative set of stories: taking inspiration from artists as disparate as Sufjan Stevens, Lars von Trier, and Francois Rabelais, White shows us that by looking to art, we can imagine a different kind of future.

No robots required.

We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom

We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom

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Winner of the 2020 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award

Drawing on personal stories, research, and historical events, an esteemed educator offers a vision of educational justice inspired by the rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists.

Drawing on her life's work of teaching and researching in urban schools, Bettina Love persuasively argues that educators must teach students about racial violence, oppression, and how to make sustainable change in their communities through radical civic initiatives and movements. She argues that the US educational system is maintained by and profits from the suffering of children of color. Instead of trying to repair a flawed system, educational reformers offer survival tactics in the forms of test-taking skills, acronyms, grit labs, and character education, which Love calls the educational survival complex.

To dismantle the educational survival complex and to achieve educational freedom--not merely reform--teachers, parents, and community leaders must approach education with the imagination, determination, boldness, and urgency of an abolitionist. Following in the tradition of activists like Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, and Fannie Lou Hamer, We Want to Do More Than Survive introduces an alternative to traditional modes of educational reform and expands our ideas of civic engagement and intersectional justice.

Week at the Airport

Week at the Airport

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From the bestselling author of The Art of Travel comes a wittily intriguing exploration of the strange non-place that he believes is the imaginative center of our civilization.

Given unprecedented access to one of the world's busiest airports as a "writer-in-residence," Alain de Botton found it to be a showcase for many of the major crosscurrents of the modern world--from our faith in technology to our destruction of nature, from our global interconnectedness to our romanticizing of the exotic. He met travelers from all over and spoke with everyone from baggage handlers to pilots to the airport chaplain. Weaving together these conversations and his own observations--of everything from the poetry of room service menus to the eerie silence in the middle of the runway at midnight--de Botton has produced an extraordinary meditation on a place that most of us never slow down enough to see clearly. Lavishly illustrated in color by renowned photographer Richard Baker, A Week at the Airport reveals the airport in all its turbulence and soullessness and--yes--even beauty.

Welcome to the Desert of the Real: Five Essays on September 11 and Related Dates

Welcome to the Desert of the Real: Five Essays on September 11 and Related Dates

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Liberals and conservatives proclaim the end of the American holiday from history. Now the easy games are over; one should take sides. i[ek argues this is precisely the temptation to be resisted. In such moments of apparently clear choices, the real alternatives are most hidden. Welcome to the Desert of the Real steps back, complicating the choices imposed on us. It proposes that global capitalism is fundamentalist and that America was complicit in the rise of Muslim fundamentalism. It points to our dreaming about the catastrophe in numerous disaster movies before it happened, and explores the irony that the tragedy has been used to legitimize torture. Last but not least it analyzes the fiasco of the predominant leftist response to the events."
What I Believe (Revised)

What I Believe (Revised)

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The author is widely regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century and a brilliant writer and commentator on social and political affairs. What I Believe offers a lucid and concise insight into the author's thinking on issues that preoccupied him throughout his life: atheism, religious morality and the impact of science on society. With the addition of two further essays, 'Why I Took to Philosophy' and 'How I Write', this is a superb example of the author as his very best.

What Is Karma

What Is Karma

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How many of us actually know what Karma means? This work presents a positive view of karma such as: What karma is; How it works; Its relation to forgiveness, freedom and enlightenment; and How to get it working for you.
What Is Philosophy

What Is Philosophy

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In attempting to answer the question posed by this book's title, Giorgio Agamben does not address the idea of philosophy itself. Rather, he turns to the apparently most insignificant of its components: the phonemes, letters, syllables, and words that come together to make up the phrases and ideas of philosophical discourse. A summa, of sorts, of Agamben's thought, the book consists of five essays on five emblematic topics: the Voice, the Sayable, the Demand, the Proem, and the Muse. In keeping with the author's trademark methodology, each essay weaves together archaeological and theoretical investigations: to a patient reconstruction of how the concept of language was invented there corresponds an attempt to restore thought to its place within the voice; to an unusual interpretation of the Platonic Idea corresponds a lucid analysis of the relationship between philosophy and science, and of the crisis that both are undergoing today. In the end, there is no universal answer to what is an impossible or inexhaustible question, and philosophical writing--a problem Agamben has never ceased to grapple with--assumes the form of a prelude to a work that must remain unwritten.

What Is Progress

What Is Progress

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Does the idea of progress still apply to our times? If so, what does progress really mean?

Today, many believe that progress is a word to be avoided, a relic from a past, the dangerous product of an era of intellectual naivety that would be best forgotten. Yet, the idea of progress is rooted in a human impulse that is both profound and essential, a way of interpreting history without which our ability to plan the future, our very identity would be at stake.

Written just before the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic--which is now putting its argument to the hardest of tests--this lucid essay explores how science and technology have been, and can still be, a powerful engine for human and humane advancement.

What Is Subjectivity

What Is Subjectivity

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Jean-Paul Sartre, at the height of his powers, debates with Italy's leading intellectuals

In 1961, the prolific French intellectual Jean-Paul Sartre was invited to give a talk at the Gramsci Institute in Rome. In attendance were some of Italy's leading Marxist thinkers, such as Enzo Paci, Cesare Luporini, and Galvano Della Volpe, whose contributions to the long and remarkable discussion that followed are collected in this volume, along with the lecture itself. Sartre posed the question "What is subjectivity?"--a question of renewed importance today to contemporary debates concerning "the subject" in critical theory. This work includes a preface by Michel Kail and Raoul Kirchmayr and an afterword by Fredric Jameson, who makes a rousing case for the continued importance of Sartre's philosophy.

What It Means to Be Moral

What It Means to Be Moral

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"A thoughtful perspective on humans' capacity for moral behavior." --Kirkus Reviews

"A comprehensive introduction to religious skepticism." --Publishers Weekly

In What It Means to Be Moral: Why Religion Is Not Necessary for Living an Ethical Life, Phil Zuckerman argues that morality does not come from God. Rather, it comes from us: our brains, our evolutionary past, our ongoing cultural development, our social experiences, and our ability to reason, reflect, and be sensitive to the suffering of others.

By deconstructing religious arguments for God-based morality and guiding readers through the premises and promises of secular morality, Zuckerman argues that the major challenges facing the world today--from global warming and growing inequality to religious support for unethical political policies to gun violence and terrorism--are best approached from a nonreligious ethical framework. In short, we need to look to our fellow humans and within ourselves for moral progress and ethical action.

"In this brilliant, provocative, and timely book, Phil Zuckerman breaks down the myth that our morality comes from religion--compellingly making the case that when it comes to the biggest challenges we face today, a secular approach is the only truly moral one." --Ali A. Rizvi, author of The Atheist Muslim

What It Means to Be Moral

What It Means to Be Moral

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"A thoughtful perspective on humans' capacity for moral behavior." --Kirkus Reviews

"A comprehensive introduction to religious skepticism." --Publishers Weekly

In What It Means to Be Moral: Why Religion Is Not Necessary for Living an Ethical Life, Phil Zuckerman argues that morality does not come from God. Rather, it comes from us: our brains, our evolutionary past, our ongoing cultural development, our social experiences, and our ability to reason, reflect, and be sensitive to the suffering of others.

By deconstructing religious arguments for God-based morality and guiding readers through the premises and promises of secular morality, Zuckerman argues that the major challenges facing the world today--from global warming and growing inequality to religious support for unethical political policies to gun violence and terrorism--are best approached from a nonreligious ethical framework. In short, we need to look to our fellow humans and within ourselves for moral progress and ethical action.

"In this brilliant, provocative, and timely book, Phil Zuckerman breaks down the myth that our morality comes from religion--compellingly making the case that when it comes to the biggest challenges we face today, a secular approach is the only truly moral one." --Ali A. Rizvi, author of The Atheist Muslim