Existential Utopia: New Perspectives on Utopian Thought

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9780826420725: Existential Utopia: New Perspectives on Utopian Thought
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Radical political thought of the 20th century was dominated by utopia, but the failure of communism in Eastern Europe and its disavowal in China has brought on the need for a new model of utopian thought. This book thus seeks to redefine the concept of utopia and bring it to bear on today's politics.

The original essays, contributed by key thinkers such as Gianni Vattimo and Jean-Luc Nancy, highlight the connection between utopian theory and practice. The book reassesses the legacy of utopia and conceptualizes alternatives to the neo-liberal, technocratic regimes prevalent in today's world. It argues that only utopia in its existential sense, grounded in the lived time and space of politics, can distance itself from mainstream ideology and not be at the service of technocratic regimes, while paying attention to the material conditions of human life.

Existential Utopia offers a new and exciting interpretation of utopia in contemporary culture and a much-needed intervention into the philosophical and political discussion of utopian thinking that is both accessible to students and comprehensive.

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About the Author:

Michael Marder is Ikerbasque Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz. He is the Associate Editor of Telos: A Quarterly Journal of Critical Thought and the author of The Event of The Thing: Derrida's Post-Deconstructive Realism (2009).

Patricia Vieira is Researcher of the Center for Comparative Studies, University of Lisbon, Portugal and Assistant Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Georgetown University, USA. She is the author of Seeing Politics Otherwise: Vision in Latin American and Iberian Fiction (University of Toronto Press, 2010).

Review:

What is the philosophical meaning of utopia today? Where can utopian thought lead us? Is there still any space for utopian propositions after the end of metaphysics? These are the questions first rank philosophers, such as Jean-Luc Nancy, Cláudia Baracchi, and Gianni Vattimo among others, respond to in this remarkable book. As a hermeneutic philosopher I must invite everyone who believes in hope, difference, and alterity as values for a better future to study carefully Patrícia Vieira and Michael Marder's Existential Utopia. —Santiago Zabala, ICREA Research Professor at the University of Barcelona

Democratically open to contestation and different in orientation, the essays in this thought-provoking book share a commitment to utopian thought and practice as a counterforce to contemporary accommodation with an unjust order — an order where a concerted attack on the putative "privileges" of teachers may be cynically conjoined with a defense of outlandish executive bonuses and salaries as well as a costly bailout of financial institutions and high-level "inside-jobbers" responsible for the near collapse of the socio-economic system. The editors are acutely aware of the ways utopian incentives have been co-opted by the status quo in advertising as in politics where there is a romantic idealization of "free-market" ideology and "yes we can" becomes a vapid euphemism for more of the same. Yet they are also alert to the false apocalyptic appeal of blank utopias that make quasi-transcendental gestures to an unimaginable future that may be little more than a placebo for disempowerment and despair. They provide a framework for practical yet radical utopian initiatives that acknowledge inevitable existential risks yet offer what might be called possibilities of situational transcendence of existing institutions, practices, and policies. At the same time they provide a frame of reference for critically reading the ambitious essays in this collection and helping to renew options for the political imagination. —Dominick LaCapra, Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor of Humanistic Studies Cornell University
We are done with grand narratives, metaphysical ideas of progress, and messianic promises. But the danger is that in finishing with these things we will let our dystopic anxieties reign and political despair
triumph. Radical political thought cannot survive without a vitalthinking of the future. In the utterly necessary essays collected in this volume we are offered the outline for the idea of existential utopia: grounded in the everyday, fragile and transient, self-transformative and self-reinventing. Vieira and Marder and the authors they have gathered here have performed a task I did not think likely: to fashion a conception of utopian thought fit for the 21st century. —Jay M. Bernstein, New School for Social Research

This is a splendid collection of essays, sophisticated and engaging, challenging us to secure a new place, so to speak, for utopian thinking today. — Rebecca Comay, Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto, Canada

What is the philosophical meaning of utopia today? Where can utopian thought lead us? Is there still any space for utopian propositions after the end of metaphysics? These are the questions first rank philosophers, such as Jean-Luc Nancy, Cláudia Baracchi, and Gianni Vattimo among others, respond to in this remarkable book. As a hermeneutic philosopher I must invite everyone who believes in hope, difference, and alterity as values for a better future to study carefully Patrícia Vieira and Michael Marder's Existential Utopia. —Santiago Zabala, ICREA Research Professor at the University of Barcelona

Democratically open to contestation and different in orientation, the essays in this thought-provoking book share a commitment to utopian thought and practice as a counterforce to contemporary accommodation with an unjust order – an order where a concerted attack on the putative “privileges” of teachers may be cynically conjoined with a defense of outlandish executive bonuses and salaries as well as a costly bailout of financial institutions and high-level “inside-jobbers” responsible for the near collapse of the socio-economic system. The editors are acutely aware of the ways utopian incentives have been co-opted by the status quo in advertising as in politics where there is a romantic idealization of “free-market” ideology and “yes we can” becomes a vapid euphemism for more of the same.  Yet they are also alert to the false apocalyptic appeal of blank utopias that make quasi-transcendental gestures to an unimaginable future that may be little more than a placebo for disempowerment and despair.  They provide a framework for practical yet radical utopian initiatives that acknowledge inevitable existential risks yet offer what might be called possibilities of situational transcendence of existing institutions, practices, and policies.  At the same time they provide a frame of reference for critically reading the ambitious essays in this collection and helping to renew options for the political imagination. —Dominick LaCapra, Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor of Humanistic Studies Cornell University

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