Books in the Mail!

Nothing better than quietly reading in the livingroom, listening to Coltrane, sitting in my boxers, and hearing that knock on the door. That knock is one of two things 1) The cops (I never thought that they’d catch me!) or 2) the mailman with a heavy box full of books from my favourite place on the web – Powells.com, all for my theory course in next semester.

Follow me, lets look inside!

1) War of the Worlds: What About Peace? by Bruno Latour

(Available online for free here)

From the publisher: Bruno Latour is best known for his work in the cultural study of science. In this pamphlet he turns his attention to another worthy pursuit: the project of peace. As one might expect, Latour gives us a radically different picture of this project than Kant or the philosophes, asserting that the West has been in a constant state of war both with other cultures and its own—although unwittingly so. Read through the lens of his trademark take on “the modern,” his arguments are original, thoughtful, and, as usual, provocative.

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Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life by Giorgio Agamben

This translation contains Agamben’s recent thinking on some concrete, ethical and political conclusions concerning the state of society today and the place of the individual within it. The work draws both on classical traditions and the philosophy of Foucault and Schmitt.

This one wasn’t assigned, but because Agamben’s other book (below) is assigned and is the sequal to Homo Sacer, I figured I would read it over Christmas break so I knew what was going on.

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State of Exception by Giorgio Agamben

Two months after the attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration, in the midst of what it perceived to be a state of emergency, authorized the indefinite detention of noncitizens suspected of terrorist activities and their subsequent trials by a military commission. Here, distinguished Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben uses such circumstances to argue that this unusual extension of power, or “state of exception,” has historically been an underexamined and powerful strategy that has the potential to transform democracies into totalitarian states. The sequel to Agamben’s Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, State of Exception is the first book to theorize the state of exception in historical and philosophical context. In Agamben’s view, the majority of legal scholars and policymakers in Europe as well as the United States have wrongly rejected the necessity of such a theory, claiming instead that the state of exception is a pragmatic question. Agamben argues here that the state of exception, which was meant to be a provisional measure, became in the course of the twentieth century a working paradigm of government. Writing nothing less than the history of the state of exception in its various national contexts throughout Western Europe and the United States, Agamben uses the work of Carl Schmitt as a foil for his reflections as well as that of Derrida, Benjamin, and Arendt.

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Pascalian Meditations by Pierre Bourdieu

Bourdieu attempts to make explicit the presuppositions entailed by the situation of time freed from the urgencies of the world that allows a free and liberated relation to those urgencies and to the world. The result is a critique of scholastic reasoning. ditations Pascaliennes was published by Editions du Seuil in 1997.

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After Method: Mess in Social Science Research by John Law

John Law argues that methods don’t just describe social realities but are also involved in creating them. The implications of this argument are highly significant. If this is the case, methods are always political, and it raises the question of what kinds of social realities we want to create. Most current methods look for clarity and precision. It is usually said that only poor research produces messy findings, and the idea that things in the world might be fluid, elusive, or multiple is unthinkable. Law’s startling argument is that this is wrong and it is time for a new approach. Many realities, he says, are vague and ephemeral. If methods want to know and help to shape the world, then they need to reinvent themselves and their politics to deal with mess. That is the challenge. Nothing less will do.

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