Contested Knowledge: A Guide to Critical Theory

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9781856495578: Contested Knowledge: A Guide to Critical Theory
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This is the most accessible and wide-ranging introduction to critical theory currently available. Providing a comprehensive overview of the practice, role and importance of theory across the humanities and social sciences, the book not only maps a notoriously complex area, but it also enables the reader to take the arguments and apply them in practice. Starting with an explanation of how theory relies on implicit assumptions that inform interpretations, the book moves on to depict the long-term philosophical problems that have fed into much twentieth century thinking and also more recent debates. The philosophical grounds of contemporary thought are traced from Plato through Descartes to the work of Heidegger and Freud and on to recent developments in structuralism and deconstruction that critically revise many of the previous terms of debate. The individual sections treat key concepts in detail and may be read independently. Sections that provide a thorough grounding in notions like the critical, theory, the political and modernity pave the way for in-depth accounts of the basic arguments of structuralism, psychoanalytic theory and deconstruction. Attention is paid to ensuring clarity throughout the book; the critical theory described is demonstrated via readings of verbal and visual texts. A serious guide to the practicalities of the use of critical theory in the humanities today this book should be on the shelves of all students of literature, cultural studies and social science.

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Review:

'The great advantage of Contested Knowledge is that it is a genuinely critical guide to critical theory. Phillips explores theory since Kant, and is himself prepared to be appropriately critical of it. Yet he neither excludes those with no knowledge of theory or alienates those already familiar with its fundamentals. Contested Knowledge is thus a text which deserves to be strongly recommended.' Macdonald Daly, University of Nottingham

From the Publisher:

Contested Knowledge: A Guide to Critical Theory
CONTENTS

How to Use This Book

1: Introduction to Critical Theory

I: Critical

Critical, Metaphysics, Man, Crisis, Critique, Critical Theory, Postmodernism and Critical theory

II: Representations

Books and Life, Truth, In between, To be, "Is" and "Ing"

III: Theory

The Empirical and the Transcendental, What theory is and why it is necessary, Object and Concept, Analogy, Economy, Objects, Summary

2: Philosophical Impossibilities

I: The Ancients

Philosophy, Deception, Socratic Dialogue, Plato's Theatre, Nous (Mind), Allegory, Contingency, Plato's Cave, Ideal Objects, Technology, The Visible and the Invisible, Analogy, The Divided Line, The Empirical and the Transcendental

II: Greek/Jew:Closure and Opening

Greek, Binary Oppositions, Empirical/Transcendental Difference, Jew, The Law, Dogmatism and Criticism, Singularity and Plurality, Opening and Closure

III: Modernity

Empiricism, Rationality, Freedom, Progress, Centrism, Ethnocentrism, Androcentrism, Phonocentrism, Logocentrism, Descartes' Judgement, Otherness, infinity and difference, How to not define the other Summary Cogito Ergo Sum, Frontiers, The Subject in Crisis, Authority and Enlightenment, Architectural Metaphors, Responsibility

3: The Political

I: Being

Rhetoric, The Being of Things, Being and Beings

II The Political

III False Consciousness

False Consciousness, Figurative Language, Graven Images, Fetish, Logocentrism, Nomos, Access to the Transcendental

4: Structuralism

I: Saussure

What is Structuralism? Where does structuralism come from? The Course in General Linguistics, Why "general", The Sign Signifier/Signified System and Utterance Difference' "To a Certain Extent", System and Difference, Developments in Structuralism, How Structuralism Works, An Exercise in Structuralism, Synchrony/Diachrony, System/Process, Paradigm/Syntagm

II: Levi-Strauss

Structural Linguistics and Anthropology, Necessary Laws, Kinship Relations, Second Order First, The Elementary Unit of Kinship, Uncles with Attitude, The Incest Taboo-woman as symbol of exchange, The Structural Analysis of Myth, The Algorithm of Myth

III Jakobson

Two Types of Aphasia, The Similarity Disorder, The Contiguity Disorder, Metaphor and Metonymy, The Map on the Wall

5: Derrida and Deconstruction

I: The Text

"Text", Derrida's work, Presence and Absence, The Way We Think, Structure, Play, The way of the text, Bricoleur and Engineer, Supplementarity, Radical Empiricism, "Something Missing"

II: Difference

The Same, Différance, Difference a priori, A commentary on "Differance", What to Look for

III: Exemplification

Deconstruction, Repetition and Writing, Superfluity and Writing, Alterity and Transcendence, Writing and Interpretation, Transcendental Contraband, Exemplification

6: Psychoanalysis

I: Freud and The Dreamwork

Psychoanalysis and Critical Theory, The Unconscious since Freud, Dreams, Interpretation, The Dream Work, Condensation, Displacement, Overdetermination, Considerations of Representability, Kettle Logic

II: Lacan, Freud and Sexuality

Lacan and Language, The Unconscious is the Discourse of the Other, The Unconscious is structured like a Language, Metaphor and Metonymy, Sexuality and Sexual Difference, Deferred Action, Sexuality, Oedipus, Sexual Difference, Cinema: Pleasure and Drive, The Ring

III: The Return to Melanie Klein

Acquiring Knowledge, The Ruined World, Kleinian Scientificity, Armageddon, Soldier, Problems, The Knowledge Concluding Remarks

Bibliographical Map

Index

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