Agon Culture: Competition, Conflict and the Problem of Domination

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de Sitter Publications, 2011 - Social Science - 286 pages
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After over 100 years of technological progress, human societies are trapped in a perpetual dynamic of conflict and crisis, with modernization at a standstill. While this dialectic of development and destruction has often been analysed from political and economic perspectives, Agon Culture offers an analysis of the human conditions through an examination of the way in which the cultural ideology of competition operates as a mode of rationality that underpins the order of domination. By combining insights from Theodor Adorno's critical theory with a reconstruction of the philosophy of the agon, the author has formulated a novel critical theory of cultural domination that offers insights into our "winner-loser" culture and a renewed intensity of its social Darwinist tendencies. The agon has traditionally been conceptualized as the space where victory and truth emerge from the contest between adversaries. In the spheres of law, politics, sports, and war the impetus to pit one's abilities against those of another has shaped the modality of power since the classical Greek ideal of agonism was first instituted in Western Culture and society. Contrary to current evolutionary thinkers who understand competition as a biological drive, Agon Culture posits that competition is a powerful force that has a largely unrecognized and dangerous underside in its promotion of interpersonal conflict, war and cyclical domination.

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