Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance (Radical Thinkers)

Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance (Radical Thinkers)

Simon Critchley

Language: English

Pages: 176

ISBN: 1781680175

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The clearest, boldest and most systematic statement of Simon Critchley’s influential views on philosophy, ethics, and politics, Infinitely Demanding identifies a massive political disappointment at the heart of liberal democracy. Arguing that what is called for is an ethics of commitment that can inform a radical politics, Critchley considers the possibility of political subjectivity and action after Marx and Marxism, taking in the work of Kant, Levinas, Badiou and Lacan. Infinitely Demanding culminates in an argument for anarchism as an ethical practice and a remotivating means of political organization.

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Second Critique . Schelling wri te s, The essence of tmgerfy is thus an actual and objective conflict between freedom in the subject on the one hand, and necessity on the other, a conflict that does not end such that one or the in van­ other succumbs, but rather such that both are manifested perfect indifference as simult aneo usly victorious and 11 quished. Schelling is thinking of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex rather than the Antigone, and the claim here is that at the end of the tragedy Oedipus

succeeds in attaining a free recognitio n of his determina­ tion by necessity or fate. At the start of the drama, Oedipus falsely believed himself to be free. Unbeknownst to himself, however, he is determined by necessity: married to his mother, his father's murderer and the source of the evil polution that threatens the life of the polis. By the end of the tragedy, however, Oedipus is truly free because he knows the truth about who he is and also knows what is to be done, that he must leave the

yawning inequality, 1 26 I N F INITELY DE MAND I N G impov� rishment and disenfranchisment that i s s o palpable locally and globally. In my view, contemporary anarchism is an experi­ ence of democratization of the type described above, where what motivates political struggle is a shared experience of certain wrongs and a determination to right those wrongs. What ties together the highly disparate groups that m ake up d emo ns trations of the kind we have seen so often in recent years is not

ighbors on the street corner to discuss back and forth what is read in uncensored news of the day, and in gatherings of conversation am inclined to believe ANAR C H I C M ETAP O L I T I C S 1 27 friends i n the living rooms of houses and apartments to converse freely with one another. 64 Of course, with the introduction of emergency legislation signifi­ cantly reducing civil liberties after 9 / 1 1 , one might wonder whether those residents of what Richard Rorty describes as the rich North

9 85), p.477 See Ranciere's stunning short paper, 'Ten Theses on Politics', Theory and Event, Vo l.5, Issue 3 (200 I ) . Levinas, Totality and lrifinity, p. 2 94. See Chapters 5 and 6 of Rancie re Disagreent, 'Democracy or C on sensus' and 'Politics in its Nihilistic Age ' (pp.95- 1 40) . A related line of argument to that proposed here can be found in Sofia Niisstrom's 17ze An-Archical State: Logics qf Legitimary in the Social Contract Tradition (Stockholm: University of Stockholm Press, 2004) .

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