Vasilis Grollios has written to us asking us to announce the publication of his new book, Negativity and Democracy: Marxism and the Critical Theory Tradition (Routledge, 2017). He has also informed us that if you order directly from Routledge, you can use code FLR40 to get a 20% discount. Here is the publisher’s blurb for what looks to be a timely book:
The current political climate of uncompromising neoliberalism and its social effects means that the need to study the logic of our culture – that is, the logic of the capitalist system – is compelling. This book explores the practical relevance of these notions for a contemporary democratic theory. Grollios offers a unique overview of the key concepts of totality, negativity, fetishization, contradiction, mystification, identity thinking, dialectics and corporeal materialism as they have been employed by the major thinkers of the critical theory tradition – Marx, Engels, Horkheimer, Lukacs, Adorno, Marcuse, E. Bloch and J. Holloway.
Benjamin Fong has written to us letting us know about the publication of his book, Death and Mastery: Psychoanalytic Drive Theory and the Subject of Capitalism (Columbia University Press, 2016). The book should be of interest to many of our readers as Fong notes that, “the fourth and most important chapter of the book is devoted to Horkheimer and Adorno, and specifically to making sense of the damaged psychic structure of what they call the ‘new anthropological type.'”
Here is the publisher’s blurb:
The first philosophers of the Frankfurt School famously turned to the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud to supplement their Marxist analyses of ideological subjectification. Since the collapse of their proposed “marriage of Marx and Freud,” psychology and social theory have grown apart to the impoverishment of both. Returning to this union, Benjamin Y. Fong reconstructs the psychoanalytic “foundation stone” of critical theory in an effort to once again think together the possibility of psychic and social transformation.
Drawing on the work of Hans Loewald and Jacques Lacan, Fong complicates the famous antagonism between Eros and the death drive in reference to a third term: the woefully undertheorized drive to mastery. Rejuvenating Freudian metapsychology through the lens of this pivotal concept, he then provides fresh perspective on Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse’s critiques of psychic life under the influence of modern cultural and technological change. The result is a novel vision of critical theory that rearticulates the nature of subjection in late capitalism and renews an old project of resistance.
[Adorno’s] moment of vindication is arriving now. With the election of Donald Trump, the latent threat of American authoritarianism is on the verge of being realized, its characteristics already mapped by latter-day sociologists who have updated Adorno’s “F-scale” for fascist tendencies. […] As early as the forties, Adorno saw American life as a kind of reality show: “Men are reduced to walk-on parts in a monster documentary film which has no spectators, since the least of them has his bit to do on the screen.” Now a businessman turned reality-show star has been elected President. Like it or not, Trump is as much a pop-culture phenomenon as he is a political one.
Martin Thibodeau wrote to us about a conference that he and Jamie Crooks are organizing at Bishop’s University next spring (April 28 and 29, 2017). Submissions on Adorno are welcome! The call for paper is here: The Problem of Evil Bishop’s University
Max Pensky wrote to let us know about an upcoming conference on Negative Dialectics that he and Peter Gordon are organizing this fall at Harvard. The conference will be held November 18 and 19, 2016, at Harvard’s Center for European Studies. You can find details about the program and the specific location here.
Martin Jay (UC-Berkeley) has a new book called Reason after its Eclipse: On Late Critical Theory (University of Wisconsin, 2016), that ought to be of interest to readers. Here’s a blurb on the book:
Martin Jay tackles a question as old as Plato and still pressing today: what is reason, and what roles does and should it have in human endeavor? Applying the tools of intellectual history, he examines the overlapping, but not fully compatible, meanings that have accrued to the term “reason” over two millennia, homing in on moments of crisis, critique, and defense of reason.
After surveying Western ideas of reason from the ancient Greeks through Kant, Hegel, and Marx, Jay engages at length with the ways leading theorists of the Frankfurt School—Horkheimer, Marcuse, Adorno, and most extensively Habermas—sought to salvage a viable concept of reason after its apparent eclipse. They despaired, in particular, over the decay in the modern world of reason into mere instrumental rationality. When reason becomes a technical tool of calculation separated from the values and norms central to daily life, then choices become grounded not in careful thought but in emotion and will—a mode of thinking embraced by fascist movements in the twentieth century.
Is there a more robust idea of reason that can be defended as at once a philosophical concept, a ground of critique, and a norm for human emancipation? Jay explores at length the communicative rationality advocated by Habermas and considers the range of arguments, both pro and con, that have greeted his work.
Espen Hammer has written to us to let us know about two titles now out or forthcoming.
The first is his monograph, Adorno’s Modernism: Art, Experience, Catastrophe (Cambridge, 2015). Publisher’s link.
The second is an edited collection he put together in Routledge’s Critical Assessments of Leading Philosophers series, dedicated exclusively to Theodor W. Adorno. It is a two-volume enterprise that is meant to be a successor to the earlier 4 volume one. Publisher’s link.
Both titles look outstanding!
James Schmidt (Boston University) has two wonderful posts on the history of this manuscript, and his remarkable discovery of a missing English translation by Adorno himself. More here and here, and check out his blog.
Thomas Ebke (Pötsdam) has written to us asking us to post the following call for papers (which is in German) for a conference in February of 2016 at the University of Pötsdam on the relationship between philosophical anthropology and the Frankfurt School. This is what Dr. Ebke writes:
As you may know, the dialogue between these two schools of thought was characterized, during the lives of the major protagonists, by mutual skepticism and a series of demarcations. This is all the more astonishing not only because Horkheimer and Adorno, for instance, had good professional relations with Helmuth Plessner who used to be implicated in sociological research projects monitored by the Insitut für Sozialforschung in the 1950s, but also because the problem of anthropological thought and a philosophy of human nature seems on closer inspection to be rather equivocal, especially in the case of Adorno.