Month: March 2015

Lisa Guenther on Arendt and the 2013 California Prison Strikes

In the Canadian Journal of Human Rights here (open access):

On July 8, 2013, over 30,000 prisoners in California joined together across racial and regional lines to launch the largest hunger strike in state history. This article analyzes the prison conditions that led to the hunger strike as a form of world-destroying violence, drawing on Heidegger’s account of Beingin-the-world and Arendt’s account of being cast out of the common world and deprived of the “right to have rights”. The paper then examines the process by which prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison reached across the social barriers of race and gang affiliation to organize a nonviolent resistance movement and, in so doing, to rebuild a meaningful sense of the world and of political action. Ultimately, the California prison hunger strikes are more than a struggle for human rights; they are also a struggle for meaning, and for the possibility of a common world.

I was planning on using a chapter of Guenther’s Solitary Confinement: Social Death and Its Afterlives (2013) in my ethics course (the theme is crime and punishment) but this might go instead, since we are taking up Arendt and evil this week (as well as her writings on the punishment for Eichmann).

Wendy Brown, Neoliberalism, and Why Taking Your Work Email Off Your Phone Will Not Save Democracy

The Trott Line

Neoliberalism: What is it?

I’m currently teaching a course on the Philosophy of Commerce.  I think of this course as an effort to get students to challenge the notion that everything could be economized.  Following Arendt, I’m trying to get students to see what is lost when pursuits of living or living large (when the pursuit of living becomes excessive) crowd out any consideration for living well, which is to say, for organizing and determining how life ought to be in conversation and contestation with others.  This determining how life ought to be is in contrast to just determining what to do in order to live.  This concern has been with us for some time, but in the last several decades a new and even more far-reaching economization of life has occurred, wherein individuals have come to think of themselves as entrepeneurial capital projects.

This development is neoliberalism, which is the subject…

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New Series at Edinburgh: New Perspectives in Ontology

My colleague Sean McGrath and I have started up a series with Edinburgh UP, ‘New Perspectives in Ontology’. Our board is now just about in place, including Maurizio Farraris (Turin), Iain Hamilton Grant (University of the West of England), Garth Green (McGill), Adrian Johnston (U. of New Mexico), Catherine Malabou (King’s), Jeff Malpas (U. of Tasmania), Marie-Eve Morin (Alberta), Jeffrey Reid (Ottawa), Hasana Sharp (McGill U.),
Uwe Voigt (Augsburg, Germany), and Jason Wirth (Seattle U.), among others–so quite divergent in ontological methods and theses. I’ll post further links and such when they are available. Here is what we are thinking with the series:

After the fundamental modesty of much post-Heideggerian Continental philosophy, the time is now for a renaissance in new ontologies. This series aims to be a forum for this work, with authors boldly claiming answers to the oldest questions of our existence while often working within the Continental tradition to move beyond the stale hermeneutics and phenomenologies of the past.

Key features:
• A much needed home for new work in ontology not tapped by studies in Deleuze or speculative realism, especially those coming out of traditions rising from German Idealism through Heidegger and beyond.
• Written in an intrepid style, the books in this series will be targeted at intelligent adults and courses teaching metaphysics and ontology.
• Pushing no doctrinal program, the series aims to be the place for debating ontological commitments with the winding down of social constructivism and vulgar forms of postmodernism.

Edinburgh as a whole has become an important place for publishing new and invigorating work in Continental philosophy and ontology, with excellent distribution and pricing. So I’m quite happy to work with them.

We have several works already under consideration–quite great stuff. If you have ideas, feel free to drop us a line.