Impossible Objects

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Polity, Dec 12, 2011 - Philosophy - 180 pages
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Impossible objects are those about which the philosopher, narrowly conceived, can hardly speak: poetry, film, music, humor. Such "objects" do not rely on philosophy for interpretation and understanding; they are already independent practices and sites of sensuous meaning production. As Elvis Costello has said, "writing about music is like dancing about architecture." We don't need literary theory in order to be riveted by the poem, nor a critic's analysis to enjoy a film. How then can philosophy speak about anything outside of itself, namely all of those things which actually matter to us in this world?

In Impossible Objects, Simon Critchley - one of the most influential and insightful philosophers writing today - extends his philosophical investigation into non-philosophical territories, including discussions on tragedy, poetry, humor, and music. In a series of engaging and enlightening conversations, Critchley reflects on his early work on the ethics of deconstruction; the recurring themes of mortality and nihilism; his defense of neo-anarchism; and his recent investigation into secular faith, or "a faith of the faithless". Essential reading for artists, academics, and general readers alike, this book explores the relationship between the philosophical world and those complex and fascinating "impossible objects" which give life meaning.


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1 Early Bedfellows
2 Keep Your Mind in Hell and Despair Not
3 The State is a Limitation on Human Existence
4 Infi nitely Demanding Anarchism
5 Action in a World of Recuperation
6 Language and Murder
7 Confessions of a Punk Rocker
8 Art and Ethics
9 Tragedy and Modernity
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About the author (2011)

Simon Critchley is Hans Jonas Professor at the New School for Social Research in New York and part-time Professor of Philosophy at Tilburg University.

Carl Cederstr m is Lecturer in Human Resource Management at Cardiff University.

Todd Kesselman is PhD Candidate at New School for Social Research.

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