The philosophical unity so visible in Europe at the time of the Reformation and still perceptible during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries began to disintegrate in the early years of the nineteenth century. The accession of new languages to the status of scientific languages, the rise of nationalistically minded generations of philosophers, the progressive multiplication of the professors of philosophy, many of whom became philosophical writers, created a new historical situation. Descartes wrote his 'Meditations' in Latin, so they were read at once in the whole of civilized Europe; one hundred year later, Condillac could not read Locke in the original, and when Kant published his masterwork in German, it remained for many years a sort of mystery philosophy chiefly known from summaries, interpretations, and even criticisms. It is therefore almost unavoidable to take into account the nationalities of the philsophers in the nineteenth century and, up to a point at least, to order their doctrines accordingly. --from the Preface
This book gives a unique historical and interpretive analysis of a widely pervasive mode of thought that it describes as the legacy of positivism. Viewing Auguste Comte as a pivotal figure, it charts the historical origins of his positivism and follows its later development through John Stuart Mill and Émile Littré. It shows how epistemological shifts in positivism influenced parallel developments in the human and legal sciences, and thereby treats legal positivism and positivism as it is understood in the human sciences within a common framework.
For more than 250 years, Charles de Brosses’s term “fetishism” has exerted great influence over our most ambitious thinkers. Used as an alternative to “magic,” but nonetheless expressing the material force of magical thought, de Brosses’s term has proved indispensable to thinkers as diverse as Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Lacan, Baudrillard, and Derrida. With this book, Daniel H. Leonard offers the first fully annotated English translation of the text that started it all, On the Worship of Fetish Gods, and Rosalind C. Morris offers incisive commentary that helps modern readers better understand it and its legacy. The product of de Brosses’s autodidactic curiosity and idiosyncratic theories of language, On the Worship of Fetish Gods is an enigmatic text that is often difficult for contemporary audiences to assess. In a thorough introduction to the text, Leonard situates de Brosses’s work within the cultural and intellectual milieu of its time. Then, Morris traces the concept of fetishism through its extraordinary permutations as it was picked up and transformed by the fields of philosophy, comparative religion, political economy, psychoanalysis, and anthropology. Ultimately, she breaks new ground, moving into and beyond recent studies by thinkers such as William Pietz, Hartmut Böhme, and Alfonso Iacono through illuminating new discussions on topics ranging from translation issues to Africanity and the new materialisms.
This combination of historiography and theory offers the growing Anglophone readership interested in the ideas of Gilbert Simondon a thorough and unprecedented survey of the French philosopher’s entire oeuvre. The publication, which breaks new ground in its thoroughness and breadth of analysis, systematically traces the interconnections between Simondon’s philosophy of science and technology on the one hand, and his political philosophy on the other. The author sets Simondon’s ideas in the context of the epistemology of the late 1950s and the 1960s in France, the milieu that shaped a generation of key French thinkers such as Deleuze, Foucault and Derrida. This volume explores Simondon’s sources, which were as eclectic as they were influential: from the philosophy of Bergson to the cybernetics of Wiener, from the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty to the epistemology of Canguilhem, and from Bachelard’s philosophy of science to the positivist sociology and anthropology of luminaries such as Durkheim and Leroi-Gourhan. It also tackles aspects of Simondon’s philosophy that relate to Heidegger and Elull in their concern with the ontological relationship between technology and society and discusses key scholars of Simondon such as Barthélémy, Combes, Stiegler, and Virno, as well as the work of contemporary protagonists in the philosophical debate on the relevance of technique. The author’s intimate knowledge of Simondon’s language allows him to resolve many of th e semantic errors and misinterpretations that have plagued reactions to Simondon’s many philosophical neologisms, often drawn from his scientific studies.