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Interventions in Contemporary Thought

History, Politics, Aesthetics

Gabriel Rockhill

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A critical intervention in contemporary theoretical debates on history, politics and aesthetics

With the aim of rethinking the state and stakes of contemporary theory, Gabriel Rockhill critically works through some of the most important recent philosophical writings on the intertwined topics of history, politics and art. He offers guidance to some of the complex debates in these areas, as well as a commanding overview of the key issues and some of the central figures, including Foucault, Derrida, Castoriadis, Badiou and Rancière.

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Notes on Sources
Introduction: What Is an Intervention? Metaphilosophical Critique and the Reinvention of Contemporary Theory
I History: 1. How Do We Think the Present? From Ontology of Contemporary Reality to Ontology without Being
2. The Right of Philosophy and the Facts of History: Foucault, Derrida, Descartes
3. Aesthetic Revolution and Modern Democracy: Rancière’s Historiography
II Politics: 4. Is Difference a Value in Itself? Critique of a Metaphilosophical Axiology
5. Castoriadis and the Tradition of Radical Critique
6. The Hatred of Rancière: Democracy in the History of Political Cultures
III Aesthetics: 7. The Art of Talking Past One Another: The Badiou-Rancière Debate
8. The Hermeneutics of Art and Political History in Rancière
9. The Forgotten Political Art par excellence? Architecture, Design and the Social Sculpting of the Body Politic

About the Author

Gabriel Rockhill is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University, Directeur de programme at the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris, and Founder and Director of the Critical Theory Workshop at the Université Paris Descartes. He is the author of Radical History and the Politics of Art (Columbia University Press, 2014) and Logique de l’histoire: Pour une analytique des pratiques philosophiques (Editions Hermann, 2010). He co-edited and co-authored, with Alfredo Gomez-Muller, Politics of Culture and the Spirit of Critique: Dialogues (Columbia University Press, 2011), which has also been published in French and in Spanish. He co-edited and contributed to Jacques Rancière: History, Politics, Aesthetics (Duke University Press, 2009) and Technologies de contrôle dans la mondialisation: Enjeux politiques, éthiques et esthétiques (Editions Kimé, 2009). He also edited and translated, with John V. Garner, Cornelius Castoriadis’s Postscript on Insignificance (Continuum Books, 2011), as well as Jacques Rancière’s The Politics of Aesthetics (Continuum Books, 2004).


These timely interventions challenge us to rethink the role and influence of scholarly discourse and critique. Gabriel Rockhill has developed a highly original, "conjunctural" approach, which consists in reading the works of the French cultural critics and philosophers that are at the core of his expertise, according to a judgment of relevance and urgency that is part of our own historicity as critics and academics. These sharp readings of Rancière, Derrida, Foucault and Badiou are therefore part of a welcome call to arms to revitalize and politicize Anglo-American cultural scholarship.

- Giuseppina Mecchia, University of Pittsburgh

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