By Warren Breckman
Marxism's cave in within the 20th century profoundly altered the fashion and substance of Western ecu radical proposal. to construct a better kind of democratic idea and motion, favourite theorists moved to reject revolution, abandon classification for extra fragmented versions of social motion, and raise the political over the social. Acknowledging the constructedness of society and politics, they selected the "symbolic" as an idea robust adequate to reinvent leftist notion outdoors a Marxist framework. Following Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Adventures of the Dialectic, which reassessed philosophical Marxism at mid century, Warren Breckman severely revisits those exciting experiments within the aftermath of Marxism.
The post-Marxist suggestion of the symbolic is dynamic and complicated, uncannily echoing the early German Romantics, who first complex a contemporary notion of symbolism and the symbolic. Hegel and Marx denounced the Romantics for his or her otherworldly and nebulous posture, but post-Marxist thinkers favored the wealthy strength of the ambiguities and paradoxes the Romantics first well-known. Mapping diversified rules of the symbolic between modern thinkers, Breckman lines a desirable mirrored image of Romantic topics and resonances, and he explores intensive the trouble to reconcile a thorough and democratic political schedule with a politics that doesn't privilege materialist understandings of the social. enticing with the paintings of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Cornelius Castoriadis, Claude Lefort, Marcel Gauchet, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, and Slavoj Žižek, Breckman uniquely situates those vital theorists inside 200 years of eu suggestion and extends their profound relevance to today's political activism.
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Extra resources for Adventures of the Symbolic: Post-marxism and Radical Democracy
The greatest advantage in emphasizing the symbolic in the sea change of twentieth-century thought is one that is central to this book: namely, that the attempt to reduce the symbolic to the structural linguistic model was doomed to fail not only because it provoked external opposition but also because every theory of the symbolic, including that of structuralism, mobilizes a polyvalent range of meanings that cannot be fully mastered. For thinkers oriented toward radical politics yet convinced of the inadequacy of existing models, the symbolic construction of the sociopolitical world oﬀered an irresistible way out of the perceived reductionism of Marxism.
Kant, after all, believed that the symbol makes concepts visible by analogy, not by participation in or identity with the conceptual object, which itself remains sensuously unpresentable; the sensual and the intellectual are permanently divided. Romanticism, as we shall see, did not decisively settle on one side or the other of the alternatives posed by Kant and Goethe, but oscillated between the notions that the symbol presents the unpresentable and that it participates in the object it presents.
According to him, a symbol conveys its meaning through the presentation of some quality or qualities it has in common with that meaning. By contrast, the speciﬁc virtue of the sign is precisely its arbitrariness. Because its capacity to convey meaning depends only on convention and agreement, the sign can be purged of the naturalness and intuitiveness that linger in the symbol. It can shed the symbol’s ambiguity and become the transparent medium of spirit’s self-determination. The tension between the sign and the symbol opens the heart of the conﬂict between Hegel and the Romantics.
Adventures of the Symbolic: Post-marxism and Radical Democracy by Warren Breckman