Thursday, 17 March 2011

Towards a Post-Modern Understanding of the Political: From Genealogy to Hermeneutics

Towards a Post-Modern Understanding of the Political: From Genealogy to Hermeneutics
Andrius Bielskis | 2005-10-21 00:00:00 | Palgrave Macmillan | 232 | Philosophy
While claiming that liberalism is the dominant political theory and practice of modernity, this book provides two alternative post modern theoretical approaches to the political. Concentrating on Nietzsche's and Foucault's work, it offers a novel interpretation of their genealogical projects. It argues that genealogy can be applied to analyze different forms of cultural kitsch vis-à-vis the dominant political institutions of consumer capitalism. The problem with consumer capitalism is not so much that it exploits individuals, but that it fosters cheap human existence saturated with the artefacts of kitsch. Contrasting genealogy with hermeneutic philosophy, it calls for a renewal of hermeneutics within the Thomistic tradition.

Bielski's work presenting a "philosophical position rather than a fully articulated philosophical argument" coming out of his research for his doctoral thesis at the U. of Warwick, England, comes to grips with the fundamentals of modern and contemporary culture. Bielski's position--i. e., major observation, basic critique--is that "[w]e have approached an era in our history when to live and see the world according to the predominant liberal narrative of ever increasing individual/human emancipation will be to arrive at the abandonment of humanity itself." The content is mainly an analysis and demonstration of how this is happening. Whereas nearly all contemporary social critics and even philosophers concentrate on subjects such as popular culture, media, the absence of artistic principles, minorities or marinalized groups, and economic and cultural globalization, this author reevaluates figures such as Nietzsche and Marx (to name only a couple among many) and the idea of kitsche which these others consider for the most passe. While not arguing for their continuing relevance, Bielskis nonetheless convincingly persuades thoughtful readers that the ongoing influence of Nietzsche, the unreflective acceptance of kitsche, etc., along with the marginalization or disregard of classical philosophers such as Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas leaves modern individuals and their culture blind and aimless. Indeed, despite being described as a "position" rather than developed argument, the work has a cogency and focus which show most writing on modern culture and its participants and celebrants to be the diversionary, merely entertaining pastiche that it is. Bielski's answer for the ills and impoverishments of postmodern culture with its irresolvable anxieties over power, identity, and spiritlessness is a "theistic narrative...embodied in Christianity [which can be] philosophically redeveloped as...a post-humanist narrative." As substantively and relevantly developed by the author in the course of his book, this gives ones who believe society has entered the post-Christian era something to think about.

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