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Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea Hardcover – May 4, 2010

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Succinct yet expansively allusive in scope, dense yet highly readable, Fanaticism is a multi-levelled investigation into the role that the idea of the fanatic has played in political discourse.”—Mark Fisher, Frieze

“A tour de force in every sense—Toscano wipes the smug smiles off the self-righteous faces of the New Philosophers.”—Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums

About the Author

Alberto Toscano is a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of The Theatre of Production and Fanaticism, translator of Alain Badiou’s The Century and Logics of Worlds and co-editor of Alain Badiou’s Theoretical Writings and On Beckett. He has published numerous articles on contemporary philosophy, politics and social theory, and is an editor of Historical Materialism.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (May 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184467424X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844674244
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By J. D. Haskell on May 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Prof. Dror raises essentially three critiques with the book: 1) that it is overly concerned with 'scholastic debates' of 'authors which are of limited interest to other than sect members'; 2) that it does not take into sufficient account of the need for 'global politicies' against the 'real novel issue' posed by 'armed prophets' who use 'mass killing weapons'; and 3) that he provides no alternatives in any way, with the implication that the reason is Prof. Toscano cannot face the possibility that the realities of human nature do not allow for his values. Prof. Dror lets us know that he will engage with Prof. Toscano's idea of 'fanaticism' more in his own upcoming book.

First, writers such as Badiou, and definitely Zizek are not some marginal figures only enjoyed by some sort of 'sect'. In fact, one might argue, for example, in the case of Zizek, that one would be hard-pressed to find a more popular living philosopher, who enjoys almost a rock-star status across a number of disciplines and even in the public at large, regardless of what people think of his work. Likewise, if not already familiar with Badiou, a quick wikipedia search, and you'll discover that not only is he widely translated into a number of languages, but he is also an extremely influential and prominent French thinker in both the intellectual and artistic world, if not the political. In other words, by no means 'cult' figures, and in fact quite the contrary - Toscano is dealing with some of the most well-known, if albiet polarizing, figures on the intellectual landscape today in philosophy.

Second, in my own understanding, the whole thesis of 'fanaticism' is to get us away from thinking about these bipolar visions of the world as 'armed prophets' (e.g., the Islamic terrorists) versus global policies (e.g.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Capacity to Govern: A Report to the Club of Rome; Crazy States: A Counterconventional Strategic Problem

This book has a very important message: Fanaticism, in the sense of total commitment to a cause, is important for the progress of humanity. This thesis is all the more important because of contemporary trust in "reasonableness," "compromises," etc., which often cannot bring about the required radical changes. Therefore, designating an actor as "fanatic" is not enough for judging him as wrong and evil. I will take this point into account in my next book ISRAELI STATECRAFT: CHALLENGE AND RESPONSE.

However the book has a major weakness, shared by books written by the author's reference group. A lot of space is devoted to scholastic debates with Badiou, Sloterdijk, Zizek and other authors which are of limited interest to other than "sect" members. And even more space is going to show that Marx was right on some main points, which may be relevant in a book on the history of ideas but is irrelevant for the main valid point of the author.

Instead of engaging in hermeneutics on various texts, the author should have taken the real novel issue posed by fanaticism, namely the dangers posed by it when combined with modern and foreseeable mass killing weapons. These dangers require global policies against "armed prophets." However this fateful issue is not taken up in the book.
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