- Series: European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism
- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Columbia University Press (September 15, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0231130821
- ISBN-13: 978-0231130820
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 7.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,423,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Nihilism and Emancipation: Ethics, Politics, and Law (European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism)
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The fluid writing and the translator's "invisible" inclusion of explanatory phrases...makes this accessible to undergraduate and lay readers, as well as of interest to scholars...Highly recommended. (Library Journal)
Nihilism and Emancipation gives an excellent picture of Gianni Vattimo's recent work and of the interesting and original challenges he offers to what are often seen as philosophical certainties. Even those who disagree with where Vattimo ultimately takes his argument would benefit from pondering his suggestive and imaginative remapping of our philosophical landscape.(Charles Taylor, Northwestern University ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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At the time when metaphysical justifications, grounds, fundaments, and rationalities appear utterly impoverished, notwithstanding their holding sway upon our era of globalization and militarism, the very notion of philosophy is questioned because, à la Heidegger, it can no longer be a search for, and discourse of, foundations. Rather, postmodernity, the age of such radical epochal awareness (50), heralds the re-emergence of philosophy as "sociological impressionism," or to adopt a term from Foucault, an "ontology of actuality" (3, 87). Why actuality? Because attunement to the actual, to the sociological "facts," enable us to receive Being not as stable presence but as an "event" (6). In this situation, philosophy can no longer claim to hold the supra-historical stance that dwells in ageless Truth(s) (60). Together, philosophy and sociology allow us to remember Being historically as we witness, in our actual positions, the destiny of Being in appearing in an irreducible multiplicity of existences, or put simply, in our undeniable cultural diversity (7, 9, 38, 52) that "practically" challenge the reductive technological Enframing (Ge-Stell) despite the latter's current planetary expansion into the farthest corners through globalization. No wonder why "otherness" has increasingly become the issue of our postcolonial times; or why maintaining universalities--colonial dominations or cultural melting pots--has become ever more difficult and unjustifiable.
The chapters of the book attend to the conclusions of the above-mentioned situation. A need for a revised understanding of ethics, an "ethics of finitude," amounts to the exclusion of violence (46). Reduction of pain is therefore a necessity for postmetaphysical ethics (71-77). And that is how Vattimo's "weak thought" (il pensiero debole) is connected to the question of the law. Running justice against the law--that is to say, taking the law at every moment as it holds sway and is implemented in the form of sanctions and punishments back to the pre-edifying impulse of justice--remains on par with, and represents the "institutional" practice of, Vattimo's postmetaphysical ethics. Justice, as the event that gives rise to normative fiats we call the law, without causing them, does not itself resemble a norm. Justice must be understood as the singular event behind every regime of laws--an archic moment without archic intentions. The law can only "do justice" through interpretation (136).
The postmetaphysical mode of acting--Verwindung--introduces this epochal awareness, this specific historicity, to the law. Epochal awareness, then, is expressed in our critical epoché--a historical view that unmasks the nonjustice in the law through nihilistic interpretation (140).
Vattimo advocates a "nihilistic left" that is not based on (a normative notion of) equality but on the reduction of violence. This left leans toward competition, but unlike the rightwing notion of competition, the leftist notion lacks violence. While this left does not advocate tribalism, it acknowledges the fact that we live in a plurality of ideas of which we can choose what fits our aspirations (99). One result of this, according to Vattimo, is the loss of Gramscian concept of the "organic intellectual" (82). "The effort to rethink the left in the light of a philosophy of history of a nihilistic kind might also mean recuperating (paradoxically, but only up to a point) utopian dimensions that we have resigned ourselves much too hastily to casting aside" (101).
Vattimo does not endorse the messianic hope (145), a point he makes, implicitly having Derrida's Spectres of Marx in mind perhaps. With this rejection, one infers, the two concepts of proceduralism and projecturality come to the fore. Once again and put in different terms, our subscription to projecturality stems from our sober attempts at dwelling in possible epochal openings at a time of caesurae when epochal principles qua permanent, stable presence in theoretical foundations (these handiworks of the philosophers) have become shaky, indefensible and ultimately unjust. Dwelling in the possible is therefore an essentially political move that involves preferring a "liberal, tolerant, and democratic society rather than an authoritarian and totalitarian one" (19).
Like most of other writings of Vattimo, the book is an event!