- Series: MIT Press
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: The MIT Press; Revised edition (January 14, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780262612074
- ISBN-13: 978-0262612074
- ASIN: 0262612070
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,180,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Transcritique: On Kant and Marx (MIT Press) Revised Edition
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An immensely ambitious theoretical edifice in which new relations between Kant and Marx are established, as well as a new kind of synthesis between Marxism and anarchism. The book is timely from both practical and theoretical perspectives, and stands up well against a tradition of Marx exegesis that runs from Rosdolsky and Korsch to Althusser and Tony Smith.(Fredric Jameson, William A. Lane Professor of Comparative Literature, Duke University, author of Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism)
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Japanese --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The transcritical method emerges in spaces where an contradiction emerges where two or more different perspectives may be taken with equal legitimacy. Instead of resolving the contradictions by synthesizing all the perspectives--a la Hegel--the transcritical method opts to sustain the differences by occupying its perspective. Obviously, this problematizes any one claim to the universality, which is not to say that universality is denied.
The book itself is divided into two halves: the first, devoted to readings of Kant; and the second, devoted to Marx. The first half on Kant is excellent. Through a detailed reading of Kant's three critiques, Karatani outlines what it is that Kant was trying to do, and in the process, Karatani corrects many misconceptions surrounding Kant and what exactly it is that he claimed. In an interesting way, Karatani argues that the whole project of the three critiques is pronounced in the third critique, which goes against the argument that Kant wrote the Critique of Judgement in order to fill in gaps. For Karatani, the third critique reraises issues that were latent within the first two, and takes them head on. In writing each of the critiques, Karatani argues, Kant bracketed certain issues in order to distill a trancendental problematic: thus the first bracketed the moral and the aesthetic in order to distill the analytic, etc. For any beginning scholar in Kant, Karatani's commentary will be very worth reading and very illuminating. For any schooled scholar of Kant, Karatani's book will force one to revisit what one understood. It is excellent.
The second section on Marx is not so even. First, Karatani offers detailed reading of Capital and places the work in context of the surrounding political economists of the time. In doing so, we learn what it is exactly that Marx brought to the table and what he simply inherited. In the transcritical space between England and Germany, Marx was able to make this critique of political economy. Second, Karatani is interested in arguing that Marx was a closet Kantian and no a Hegelian at all. Thus for Karatani, Capital is Kant's missing fourth critique of history. For Karatani, Marx was not interested in synthesizing any contradictions, but rather, sustaining the differences in between. What is at stake is Marx's political stance: in Karatani's Kantian reading, Marx was an anarchist. Karatani's readings of political economy in themselves are very excellent and praise worthy. Where he begins to falter is in his argument that Marx was actually a Kantian. It is inadequate because Karatani must ignore all the Hegelian language and form that is exhibited in Capital as well as Marx's explicit allegiances to Hegel in order to ground it. Also, at crucial moments in the book, to show what makes Marx distinctive, Karatani himself resorts to Hegelian terminology. The idea that critique is singular to Kant and must be read in Kantian light is also strange since critique occupies the first movement of Hegel's dialectic. Perhaps, Karatani wants to argue that Hegel is much more Kantian than he himself is aware, which is legitimate. Ultimately, to argue Marx advocated for anarchism does not depend on Marx being a Kantian transcritical scholar, therefore, provocative as it is, the argument runs dry.
The book ends by outlining what anarchist politics should be. This is a very interesting project, and it is a step many theorists are unwilling to take for fear of sounding flacid or inadequate. Ultimately, Karatani's program called "associationism" seems unfinished, but this is because Karatani is in the midst of working out the project theoretically and practically, and therefore should not be counted against him. Finding an example of associationism in the LETS exchange system: Karatani's model is a method of exchange and intercourse where there is no credit and no overproduction. In a zero sum society, one only consumes what one is able, and one only produces what can be consumed. Thus no capital, or surplus value, is ever produced. Very interesting stuff.
As for transcritique itself as a method. What bothers me most about it is not that it strives to be anti-dialectical, but rather, that it is grounded in personal biography. Karatani wants to argue that Marx was transcritical in method because he was in biography: in between Germany and England. Kant too was transcritical in biography because he lived a cosmopolitan lifestyle. Also, Heidegger is not transcritical because he never dislocated himself. That is why, Karatani must assure us in the very beginning of the book that he himself is in a transcritical space between Japan and NY/USA. To argue that one can best practice transcritique when one is transcritical in life is a weak argument, unnecessary, and ultimately exclusionary. Transcritique is ultimately Karatani's own method: thus he is trying to argue not that Marx was a closet Kantian, but rather, that both Marx and Kant were closet Karatanians.
The thesis is however is remarkably clearheaded. In order for workers-as-consumers to opt-out of the M-C-M flow and cease to produce surplus value at both the sites of production and consumption - community currencies are established (for example LETS) as a safety net. A non-profit, non-value making, fundamentally ethical relationship is established far from the imagined communities of the nation. Capital ceases to be accumulated, produced and re-produced. And, the state has no control over the activities.
Drawing on utopian socialism, anarchism and communism and by claiming that none of these traditions has properly dealt with the intrinsic relationship between Capital-Nation-State, but merely opposed one by utilising another, Karatani imagines a potent mix of strikes and boycotts that can oppose all.
This is all based on a thourough re-reading of Marx through Kant and Kant through Marx - completely at odds with the Neo-Kantians - that claims economics without ethics is blind and ethics without economics are empty. Karatani also chastises the "cultural turn" and comodification of Marxist theory as leading to only a form of despair and separation from the economic.
This is a breath of fresh-air and a far cry from the complex web of syntax coming from Hardt, Negri and others. Neither from the autonomist strand nor statist marxist traditions, Karatani himself says that his thesis pays a debt to Japanese Marxist traditions and it will be interesting to see him map this out.
Great translation! How to get it wider attention?!