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Class essay in marxism postmodern presenting re

Ideas such as God, freedom, immortality, the world, first beginning, and final end have only a regulative function for knowledge, since they cannot find fulfilling instances among objects of experience.

Marxism after postmodernism: Rethinking the emancipatory political subject

With Hegel, the immediacy of the subject-object relation itself is shown to be illusory. So-called immediate perception therefore lacks the certainty class essay in marxism postmodern presenting re immediacy itself, a certainty that must be deferred to the working out of a complete system of experience.

However, later thinkers point out that Hegel's logic pre-supposes concepts, such as identity and negation see Hegel 1812which cannot themselves be accepted as immediately given, and which therefore must be accounted for in some other, non-dialectical way. The later nineteenth century is the age of modernity as an achieved reality, where science and technology, including networks of mass communication and transportation, reshape human perceptions.

There is no clear distinction, then, between the natural and the artificial in experience. Indeed, many proponents of postmodernism challenge the viability of such a distinction tout court, seeing in achieved modernism the emergence of a problem the philosophical tradition has repressed.

A consequence of achieved modernism is what postmodernists might refer to as de-realization. De-realization affects both the subject and the objects of experience, such that their sense of identity, constancy, and substance is upset or dissolved. Important precursors to this notion are found in Kierkegaard, Marx and Nietzsche. In this sense, society has become a realization of abstract thought, held together by an artificial and all-pervasive medium speaking for everyone and for no one.

In Marx, on the other hand, we have an analysis of the fetishism of commodities Marx 1867, 444—461 where objects lose the solidity of their use value and become spectral figures under the aspect of exchange value. Their ghostly nature results from their absorption into a network of social relations, where their values fluctuate independently of their corporeal being.

Human subjects themselves experience this de-realization because commodities are products of their labor. Workers paradoxically lose their being in realizing themselves, and this becomes emblematic for those professing a postmodern sensibility. However, with the notion of the true world, he says, we have also done away with the apparent one.

What is left is neither real nor apparent, but something in between, and therefore something akin to the virtual reality of more recent vintage. The notion of a collapse between the real and the apparent is suggested in Nietzsche's first book, The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche 1872where he presents Greek tragedy as a synthesis of natural art impulses represented by the gods Apollo and Dionysus.

Where Apollo is class essay in marxism postmodern presenting re god of beautiful forms and images, Dionysus is the god of frenzy and intoxication, under whose sway the spell of individuated existence is broken in a moment of undifferentiated oneness with nature.

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While tragic art is life-affirming in joining these two impulses, logic and science are built upon Apollonian representations that have become frozen and lifeless.

Hence, Nietzsche believes only a return of the Dionysian art impulse can save modern society from sterility and nihilism. This interpretation presages postmodern concepts of art and representation, and also anticipates postmodernists' fascination with the prospect of a revolutionary moment auguring a new, anarchic sense of community.

In order to be responsible we must assume that we are the cause of our actions, and this cause must hold over time, retaining its identity, so that rewards and punishments are accepted as consequences for actions deemed beneficial or detrimental to others Nietzsche 1889, 482-83; 1887, 24-26, 58-60.

Thus logic is born from the demand to adhere to common social norms which shape the human herd into a society of knowing and acting subjects. In this text, Nietzsche puts forward the hypothesis that scientific concepts are chains of metaphors hardened into accepted truths.

On this account, metaphor begins when a nerve stimulus is copied as an image, which is then imitated in sound, giving rise, when repeated, to the word, which becomes a concept when the word is used to designate multiple instances of singular events.

Conceptual metaphors are thus lies because they equate unequal things, just as the chain of metaphors moves from one level to another. On Nietzsche's view, the life of an individual and a culture class essay in marxism postmodern presenting re upon their ability to repeat an unhistorical moment, a kind of forgetfulness, along with their continuous development through time, and the study of history ought therefore to emphasize how each person or culture attains and repeats this moment.

There is no question, then, of reaching a standpoint outside of history or of conceiving past times as stages on the way to the present. Nietzsche presents this concept in The Gay Science Nietzsche 1974 [1882], 273and in a more developed form in Thus Spoke Zarathustra Nietzsche 1883—1891, 269—272.

Many have taken the concept to imply an endless, identical repetition of everything in the universe, such that nothing occurs that has not already occurred an infinite number of times before.

However, others, including postmodernists, read these passages in conjunction with the notion that history is the repetition of an unhistorical moment, a moment that is always new in each case.

In their view, Nietzsche can only mean that the new eternally repeats as new, and therefore recurrence is a matter of difference rather than identity.

Furthermore, postmodernists join the concept of eternal return with the loss of the distinction between the real and the apparent world. The distinction itself does not reappear, and what repeats is neither real nor apparent in the traditional sense, but is a phantasm or simulacrum.

Nietzsche is a common interest between postmodern philosophers and Martin Heidegger, whose meditations on art, technology, and the withdrawal of being they regularly cite and comment upon.

Heidegger's contribution to the sense of de-realization of the world stems from oft repeated remarks such as: Heidegger sees modern technology as the fulfillment of Western metaphysics, which he characterizes as the metaphysics of presence. From the time of the earliest philosophers, but definitively with Plato, says Heidegger, Western thought has conceived of being as the presence of beings, which in the modern world has come to mean the availability of beings for use.

In fact, as he writes in Being and Time, the presence of beings tends to disappear into the transparency of their usefulness as things ready-to-hand Heidegger 1962 [1927], 95-107. Hence, the mountain is not a mountain but a standing supply of coal, the Rhine is not the Rhine but an engine for hydro-electric energy, and humans are not humans but reserves of manpower.

The experience of the modern world, then, is the experience of being's withdrawal in face of the enframing and its sway over beings.

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  • The real, he says, has become an operational effect of symbolic processes, just as images are technologically generated and coded before we actually perceive them;
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  • Postmodern Hermeneutics Hermeneutics, the science of textual interpretation, also plays a role in postmodern philosophy;
  • Page reference is to the 1993 translation.

However, humans are affected by this withdrawal in moments of anxiety or boredom, and therein lies the way to a possible return of being, which would be tantamount to a repetition of the experience of being opened up by Parmenides and Heraclitus.

Heidegger sees this as the realization of the will to power, another Nietzschean conception, which, conjoined with the eternal return, represents the exhaustion of the metaphysical tradition Heidegger 1991a, 199-203.

For Heidegger, the will to power is the eternal recurrence as becoming, and the permanence of becoming is the terminal moment of the metaphysics of presence. On this reading, becoming is the emerging and passing away of beings within and among other beings instead of an emergence from being.

Thus, for Heidegger, Nietzsche marks the end of metaphysical thinking but not a passage beyond it, and therefore Heidegger sees him as the last metaphysician in whom the oblivion of being is complete Heidegger 1991a, 204-206; 1991b, 199-203.

While postmodernists owe much to Heidegger's reflections on the non-presence of being and the de-realization of beings through the technological enframing, they sharply diverge from his reading of Nietzsche.

  • For Lacan, the subject is always the subject of speech, and that means speech directed toward an other in relation to whom the subject differentiates and identifies itself;
  • Without the formal unity of the subject, the faculties are set free to operate on their own.

Many postmodern philosophers find in Heidegger a nostalgia for being they do not share. They prefer, instead, the sense of cheerful forgetting and playful creativity in Nietzsche's eternal return as a repetition of the different and the new.

In this gathering, which follows the lineaments of an exclusively Greco-Christian-German tradition, something more original than being is forgotten, and that is the difference and alterity against which, and with which, the tradition composes itself. In this way, they are able to distinguish their projects from Heidegger's thinking and to critically account for his involvement with National Socialism and his silence about the Holocaust, albeit in terms that do not address these as personal failings.


They will, however, find many departures from Heidegger on Nietzsche's philosophical significance see Derrida 1979 [1978]and many instances where Nietzsche's ideas are critically activated against Heidegger and his self-presentation. Here, being is the underlying ground of the being of beings, the subiectum that is enacted in modern philosophy as the subject of consciousness.

Class essay in marxism postmodern presenting re

But in Being and Time Heidegger conceives the human being as Dasein, which is not simply a present consciousness, but an event of ecstatic temporality that is open to a past Gewesensein that was never present its already being-there and a future Zu-kunft that is always yet to come the possibility of death. The finitude of Dasein therefore cannot be contained within the limits of consciousness, nor within the limits of the subject, whether it is conceived substantively or formally.

In addition to the critiques of the subject offered by Nietzsche and Heidegger, many postmodernists also borrow heavily from the psycho-analytic theories of Jacques Lacan. Lacan's distinctive gesture is his insistence that the Freudian unconscious is a function, or set of functions, belonging to language and particularly to the verbal exchanges between the analyst and analysand during the analytic session see Lacan 1953—55.

For Lacan, the subject is always the subject of speech, and that means speech directed toward an other in relation to whom the subject differentiates and identifies itself. However, desire ultimately aims for something impossible: Insofar as the phallus is nothing but the signifying function as such, it does not exist.

It is not an object to be possessed, but is that through which the subject and the other are brought into relation to begin with, and it thus imposes itself upon the subject as a fundamental absence or lack that is at once necessary and irremediable Lacan 1977, 289.

Hence the subject is forever divided from itself and unable to achieve final unity or identity. A Report on Knowledge, 1984where he employs Wittgenstein's model of language games see Wittgenstein 1953 and concepts taken from speech act theory to account for what he calls a transformation of the game rules for science, art, and literature since the end of the nineteenth century. He describes his text as a combination of two very different language games, that of the philosopher and that of the expert.

Where the expert knows what he knows and what he doesn't know, the philosopher knows neither, but poses questions. Analysis of this knowledge calls for a pragmatics of communication insofar as the phrasing of messages, their transmission and reception, must follow rules in order to be accepted by those who judge them.

However, as Lyotard points out, the position of judge or legislator is also a position within a language game, and this raises the question of legitimation. Science is therefore tightly interwoven with government and administration, especially in the information age, where enormous amounts of capital and large installations are needed for research.

Science, however, plays the language game of denotation to the exclusion of all others, and in this respect it displaces narrative knowledge, including the meta-narratives of philosophy. This is due, in part, to what Lyotard characterizes as the rapid growth of technologies and techniques in the second half of the twentieth century, where the emphasis of knowledge has shifted from the ends of human action to its means Lyotard 1984 [1979], 37.

This has eroded the speculative game of philosophy and set each science free to develop independently of philosophical grounding or systematic organization. As a result, new, hybrid disciplines develop without connection to old epistemic traditions, especially philosophy, and this means science only plays its own game and cannot legitimate others, such as moral prescription.

The compartmentalization of knowledge and the dissolution of epistemic coherence is a concern for researchers and philosophers alike. Furthermore, within each game the subject moves from position to position, now as sender, now as addressee, now as referent, and so on. The loss of a continuous meta-narrative therefore breaks the subject into heterogeneous moments of subjectivity that do not cohere into an identity.

But as Lyotard points out, while the combinations we experience are not necessarily stable or communicable, we learn to move with a certain nimbleness among them.

Postmodern sensibility does not lament the loss of narrative coherence any more than the loss of being. However, the dissolution of class essay in marxism postmodern presenting re leaves the field of legitimation to a new unifying criterion: Performative legitimation means maximizing the flow of information and minimizing static non-functional moves in the system, so whatever cannot be communicated as information must be eliminated.

The performativity criterion threatens anything not meeting its requirements, such as speculative narratives, with de-legitimation and exclusion. In this regard, the modern paradigm of progress as new moves under class essay in marxism postmodern presenting re rules gives way to the postmodern paradigm of inventing new rules and changing the game.

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  • Opposition occurs on the same logical plane, but difference moves across planes and levels, and not only in one direction;
  • However, as Lyotard points out, the position of judge or legislator is also a position within a language game, and this raises the question of legitimation;
  • The experience of the modern world, then, is the experience of being's withdrawal in face of the enframing and its sway over beings;
  • The performativity criterion threatens anything not meeting its requirements, such as speculative narratives, with de-legitimation and exclusion.

Inventing new codes and reshaping information is a large part of the production of knowledge, and in its inventive moment science does not adhere to performative efficiency. By the same token, the meta-prescriptives of science, its rules, are themselves objects of invention and experimentation for the sake of producing new statements.

In this respect, says Lyotard, the model of knowledge as the progressive development of consensus is outmoded. In fact, attempts to retrieve the model of consensus can only repeat the standard of coherence demanded for functional efficiency, and they will thus lend themselves to the domination of capital. On the other hand, the paralogical inventiveness of science raises the possibility of a new sense of justice, as well as knowledge, as we move among the language games now entangling us.

Phrases in Dispute see Lyotard 1988 [1983]where he combines class essay in marxism postmodern presenting re model of language games with Kant's division of the faculties understanding, imagination, reason and types of judgment theoretical, practical, aesthetic in order to explore the problem of justice set out in The Postmodern Condition.

Without the formal unity of the subject, the faculties are set free to operate on their own. Where Kant insists that reason must assign domains and limits to the other faculties, its dependence upon the unity of the subject for the identity of concepts as laws or rules de-legitimizes its juridical authority in the postmodern age. Kant's third Critique therefore provides the conceptual materials for Lyotard's analysis, especially the analytic of aesthetic judgment see Kant 1790.

As Lyotard argues, aesthetic judgment is the appropriate model for the problem of justice in postmodern experience because we are confronted with a plurality of games and rules without a concept under which to unify them. Judgment must therefore be reflective rather than determining. Furthermore, judgment must be aesthetic insofar as it does not produce denotative knowledge about a determinable state of affairs, but refers to the way our faculties interact with each other as we move from one mode of phrasing to another, i.

In Kantian terms, this interaction registers as an aesthetic feeling. Where Kant emphasizes the feeling of the beautiful as a harmonious interaction between imagination and understanding, Lyotard stresses the mode in which faculties imagination and reason, are in disharmony, i. For Kant, the sublime occurs when our faculties of sensible presentation are overwhelmed by impressions of absolute power and magnitude, and reason is thrown back upon its own power to conceive Ideas such as the moral law which surpass the sensible world.

For Lyotard, however, the postmodern sublime occurs when we are affected by a multitude of unpresentables without reference to reason as their unifying origin. Justice, then, would not be a definable rule, but an ability to move and judge among rules in their heterogeneity and multiplicity.