By Warren

ISBN-10: 023114394X

ISBN-13: 9780231143943

Marxism's cave in within the 20th century profoundly altered the fashion and substance of Western ecu radical notion. to construct an improved kind of democratic conception and motion, sought after theorists moved to reject revolution, abandon classification for extra fragmented types of social motion, and increase the political over the social. Acknowledging the constructedness of society and politics, they selected the "symbolic" as an idea strong adequate to reinvent leftist suggestion outdoors a Marxist framework. Following Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Adventures of the Dialectic, which reassessed philosophical Marxism at mid century, Warren Breckman significantly revisits those exciting experiments within the aftermath of Marxism.The post-Marxist concept of the symbolic is dynamic and complicated, uncannily echoing the early German Romantics, who first complex a contemporary perception of symbolism and the symbolic. Hegel and Marx denounced the Romantics for his or her otherworldly and nebulous posture, but post-Marxist thinkers favored the wealthy power of the ambiguities and paradoxes the Romantics first famous. Mapping various rules of the symbolic between modern thinkers, Breckman lines a desirable mirrored image of Romantic topics and resonances, and he explores intensive the hassle to reconcile a thorough and democratic political schedule with a politics that doesn't privilege materialist understandings of the social. enticing with the paintings of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Cornelius Castoriadis, Claude Lefort, Marcel Gauchet, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, and Slavoj Žižek, Breckman uniquely situates those very important theorists inside 200 years of eu notion and extends their profound relevance to trendy political activism.

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Extra info for Adventures of the Symbolic: Postmarxism and Democratic Theory

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Moreover, the broader twentieth-century fascination with the symbolic did not categorically reduce the symbolic to the model of semiological value embraced by Lévi-Strauss. The greatest advantage in emphasizing the symbolic in the sea change of twentieth-century thought is one that is central to this book: namely, that the attempt to reduce the symbolic to the structural linguistic model was doomed to fail not only because it provoked external opposition but also because every theory of the symbolic, including that of structuralism, mobilizes a polyvalent range of meanings that cannot be fully mastered.

As Camille Tarot writes, “The symbolic is this concatenation of symbols, their structure in a network. ” Tarot presents Mauss as the pioneer within the French context of an understanding of society as a symbolic construction. But, while he 18 INTRODUCTION acknowledges Mauss’s influence on structuralism, he also insists on distance. Mauss’s own understanding of language was rooted in Sanskrit studies and the nineteenth-century philological tradition in which he had been educated. Regarding Ferdinand Saussure’s new synchronic approach to language, Tarot finds that Mauss was skeptical and reserved.

According to him, a symbol conveys its meaning through the presentation of some quality or qualities it has in common with that meaning. By contrast, the specific virtue of the sign is precisely its arbitrariness. Because its capacity to convey meaning depends only on convention and agreement, the sign can be purged of the naturalness and intuitiveness that linger in the symbol. It can shed the symbol’s ambiguity and become the transparent medium of spirit’s self-determination. The tension between the sign and the symbol opens the heart of the conflict between Hegel and the Romantics.

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Adventures of the Symbolic: Postmarxism and Democratic Theory by Warren


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