What I Read In The Summer: Charles Taylor

Those summer days are over, but one can always reminisce. This is part of a series of posts on my summer reading. Just add ice cream.

The critics of modern individualism are many, and Charles Taylor is one of the more articulate ones. The Ethics of Authenticity (1992) is a slim yet powerful volume. Many of its core theses have been discussed in more bredth in Sources of Self (1989); The Ethics of Authenticity, however, remains lucid despite its more distilled form.

Taylor makes an effort to analyze, interpret and evaluate the modern search for authenticity. He supports the quest for personal authenticity while criticizing its individualist side. For Taylor, leading an authentic life is not a solo effort, but rather a form of engaging with the society.

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What I Read in the Summer: Joseph Raz

Those summer days are over, but one can always reminisce. This is part of a series of posts on my summer reading. Just add ice cream.

A quick poll around my circle of friends reveals that the perfectionist philosopher Joseph Raz has none of the sex appeal Karen Barad (in my previous post) does. Maybe that’s because Raz makes no attempt to blow your mind with metaphysics or to connect their theory with groundbreaking science. As John Danaher has remarked in his blog, Raz’s writing is dull. At times it’s boring the point of despair. I can only be grateful I was reading his monograph, The Morality of Freedom, in the summer, sipping one home-made ice latte after another in an effort to stay awake. Which, I think, was well rewarded: Raz’s argument against state neutrality was one of the more interesting views I’ve come across lately.

What? Freedom without state neutrality? How is this plausible? Will this bearded old fellow be able to pull this off?

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What I Read in the Summer: Karen Barad

Those summer days are over, but one can always reminisce. I’ll be writing up a series of posts on my summer reading. Just add ice cream.

The new materialist theorist Karen Barad has a remarkable fandom among the gender studies majors in my circle of friends. It’s easy to remark why: coming from the background of hard science, she portrays both the unknown and the familiar types of learnedness to my queer buddies in the humanities. One described her as lucid, important, and among their principal influences in queer studies; another said they would not even try to understand everything and preferred to just dig it. Make of my friends’ statements what you will. Barad calls her philosophy ‘agential realism’; I read her monograph, Meeting the Universe Halfway (2007), in an effort to understand it, at least in part.

Barad’s philosophy is an ambitious one. She takes theorists and philosophers like Bohr, Foucault, Butler and Haraway, and basically alters their work only enough that she can stick an universal quantor in front of everything she deems worthwhile. This is because her theory is an attempt at capturing the universal, at finding a metaphysics that would explain both quantum mechanics and feminist struggle, among other phenomena.

Continue reading What I Read in the Summer: Karen Barad