Anthropocene Crises and the Origin of Modernity

The term “Anthropocene” designates the present age of the world, dominated and transformed by human activity. It is therefore an age of crisis, whose central features include not only technological exploitation of the earth, but also a loss of faith in any order, natural or supernatural, that could serve as a guide to human affairs. In this essay, I wish to argue, first, that the roots of this crisis rest with the modern concept of nature, a concept of nature that, as Hans Jonas wrote, “contained manipulability at its theoretical core.”

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Subjectivity After Wittgenstein by Chantal Bax

Chantal Bax’s Subjectivity After Wittgenstein: The Post-Cartesian Subject and the “Death of Man” is now available in paperback from Bloomsbury Academic. Although Wittgenstein is often held co-responsible for the so-called death of man as it was pronounced in the course of the previous century, no detailed description of his alternative to the traditional or Cartesian account of human being has so far been available. By consulting several parts of Wittgenstein’s later oeuvre, Subjectivity after Wittgenstein aims to fill this gap.

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Chiasms in Meditation or Toward the Notion of Cartesian Fiction

Juan Carlos Donado’s “Chiasms in Meditation or Toward the Notion of Cartesian Fiction” appears in Telos 162 (Spring 2013). Read the full version online at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our store.

In constant friction with readings that are either completely oblivious of the notion or merely mention the fictional aspect of Descartes’ Meditations, this essay attempts to philosophically thematize the concept of fiction, based on a now famous interpretation by Michel Foucault. We will attempt to make a robust case for constructing the concept of Cartesian fiction as a philosophically crucial category, which cannot be absent from an analysis that pretends to capture the thrust of Descartes’ writing in the Meditations. We will address how fiction plays a determining role in defining certain philosophical pillars of Cartesian thought, such as the concepts of radical doubt, truth, and the extension of rationality itself. We will closely read various key moments of Meditations I–II to illustrate why fiction can be viewed as the hermeneutical catalyst that unlocks the interpretation of certain “chiasms,” which Foucault well identified within the Meditations as the crossing between two discursive lines, that of the system and that of the exercise. At the same time and by the same token, the focus on the concept of fiction will serve to provide our own interpretation of the meditating subject’s encounter with madness, an encounter that spurred a heated debate between Foucault and Jacques Derrida.

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The Polis of Meditation: Reading the Idea Dei in Descartes’ Meditation III

The following paper was presented at the Seventh Annual Telos Conference, held on February 15–17, 2013, in New York City.

Much has certainly been said about the place of otherness in René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy. But one could, or rather, should be more precise and determine that the majority of what has been said about otherness in Descartes’ opus magnum concerns an essential banishment of the other, not to call it an essential exclusion, at the face of the “I.” In a text that, as some would have it, inaugurates the age we call Modern and starting with its genre, critics have no problem directly drawing a line from the monological voice that gives rise to the Modern subject to the egocentricity that perhaps best characterizes an age in which the mechanization of Nature—if we are still to be called Moderns—is rapidly coinciding with its destruction. As if the question of genre in the Meditations were not one of extreme complexity, the monologue, or so the story goes, finally replaces dialogue as the genre of Modernity and the other, slowly fading away, loses its voice under the authoritarian submission to the monophonic first-person singular.

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