The Inhuman Condition

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Routledge, 1995 - Social Science - 152 pages
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In The Inhuman Condition Keith Tester explores whether we are capable of coming to terms with the world we have made. He argues that we are not. We are so confused by the wonders and the sights and sounds around us that we all try to build safe little homes in which we can, for a while, be consoled by love which is doomed to fail as soon as it is thought about and by commodities which leave us unsatisfied. We all try to make sense of our humanity by turning elsewhere: to inhuman things. All of us, that is, with enough money.
The book offers a major interpretation of contemporary cultural and social relationships. It is also a major exercise in sociology which encompasses thinkers like Heidegger, Arendt, Benjamin and Simmel. The author opens with Heidegger worrying about photographs of the earth and argues that, contrary to sociological orthodoxy, the world is now more experienced in the finding than the making. Tester then explores aspects of that finding: from the beautiful promises of commodities to the noises and sights of cities, from the search for love to the throbbing gristle painted by Francis Bacon. We can only come to terms with our experiences and our existence if we embrace the inhuman idiot wisdom of kitsch; and perhaps there is no escape from the embrace of stupidity.

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About the author (1995)

Keith Tester is Reader in Social and Cultural Theory at the University of Portsmouth.

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