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Infinitely Demanding


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SIMON CRITCHLEY is Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research, and at the University of Essex, Colchester, UK. He is the author of many books, including Ethics-Politics-Subjectivity from Verso (1999), and, most recently, Things Merely Are (2005).


Critchley (philosophy, Univ. of Essex, Colchester; Things Merely Are) argues that philosophy begins not from a sense of wonder but from disappointment. What concerns him especially is political disappointment, the common belief that something is radically amiss with the world. One response to disappointment is nihilism, the denial that the world has value. Passive nihilists, e.g., political theorist John Gray, whose Straw Dogs is a counterpoint to Critchley's book, accept the loss of value with resignation. Active nihilists, by contrast, wish to destroy the present world through revolutionary violence, hoping that something better will emerge. Critchley rejects both kinds of nihilism. Instead, he favors an ethics in which the ethical subject is split "between itself and a demand it cannot meet." Critchley has been influenced in this view by French philosophers Alain Badiou and Emmanuel Levinas and Danish thinker Knud Logstrup, and he gives a clear exposition of their ideas. In political practice, his ethical perspective leads to a form of anarchism: he calls for resistance to the "ideological moralism" of current American foreign policy. A stimulating analysis; highly recommended for philosophy and political theory collections.-David Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ., OH Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"Lucid and thought-provoking" Guardian "Highly recommended" Choice "A little book with a big idea", TLS "A stimulating analysis; highly recommended" Library Journal "The culmination of his philosophical work to-date" Julian Baggini, The Philosophers' Magazine "Simon Critchley is the most powerful and provocative philosopher now writing about the complex relations of ethical subjectivity and reinvigorated democracy." Cornel West"

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