Thomas Sheehan on Ziarek’s Language after Heidegger (Indiana UP, 2013)

Here in the NDPR. Generally critical, with some discipline policing near the end (Ziarek is in comparative literature, which comes up several times as an explanation of the work, rather than looking at it on its own terms). Also hopefully the editors at NDPR will clean up the rash of errors in the text, which appears not to have been edited.

The two psychologists at the center of the CIA torture report

Originally posted on Open Geography:

Today’s Senate Select Committee on intelligence (SSCI) report on CIA’s use of torture in interrogation provides plenty of new details about the two psychologists at the center of the CIA program. But I suspect there is much more coverage about them to come.

But already by 2007 and 2009 there were reports by Katherine Eban (Vanity Fair) and Scott Shane (NYT) on these two PhD credentialed scholars that should give pause to academics everywhere, and raises important questions about the weaponization of knowledge.

In addition, see the discussion in James Risen’s new book Pay any Price. The role and actions of professional academic organizations (such as the APA) on the application of SERE to CIA prisoners “has never before been fully explained” he says (p. 178).

The two psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, get their own main finding in the SSCI report:

#13: Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s…

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Volume 32, Issue 6 now out


This week, there’s been a run of articles mourning the (likely) end of The New Republic, which many also noted happened to be the earliest “journal of ideas” that later political writers came upon in their adolescence. (Me too, but even then I recognized it for making far right opinions safe for “liberals.” It gave birth to the thing of respectable “liberals” who “speak the truth” about race and gender from the safe confines of white patriarchal privilege.) It’s exactly the magazine for that age: it was read by people who could just as well have had an Ayn Rand phase. In any case, here’s TNC on TNR’s race problem.

Foucault audio and video recordings – a chronological list with links

Peter Gratton:

Stuart Elden with a chronological list of audio and video recordings of Foucault–another great resource on his Progressive Geographies site. (Send him a link if there’s one he’s managed to miss.)

Originally posted on Progressive Geographies:

foucaultLast year I listed all the Foucault audio recordings I could find online. I’ve now updated the list, and reordered them chronologically.

These are now all listed on this page (as part of the ‘Foucault Resources‘ part of this site).

There are a few bits of missing information, and there may well be others available online that I’ve missed. Updates, corrections or additions welcome.

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Thomas Sheehan interviewed at 3:AM Magazine

By Heidegger scholars Richard Polt and Gregory Fried.The interview touches on Sheehan’s recently published Making Sense of Heidegger, which makes his long-held argument that there was no turn in Heidegger, that his later work is more obscure restatements of key insights in Sein und Zeit. The interview gives his short history of Heidegger scholarship in the Anglophone world, touches quickly on the black notebooks, and does make the hard-to-argue-with claim that Heidegger’s history of everything as falling to metaphysics is just philosophy from on high, instead of the needed investigations of various economic, social, and other changes in modernity. (This incidentally was one of the major critiques by Foucault of the early Derrida, namely that a given insight into a certain history of metaphysics was all one needed in terms of social critique.)

RPR Review of The State of Sovereignty

By Jeffrey Epstein, I just happened upon his review article “The State of Sovereignty and a Future Democratic Justice,” while looking for something else. (It came out earlier this year.) Since it a generous review, it’s a bit self-serving to say I like it, but he summarizes very well what I was trying to do:

Gratton deserves great credit for the clarity, concision, rigorous engagement with primary and secondary sources, and charitable readings he extends to each figure under consideration. His work is not a partisan broadside or a claim about which theorist is to be crowned the thinker of sovereignty; instead, he attempts to “take on the tradition” in two distinct yet inter-related ways. First, his careful explication of the historicity (e.g., Rousseau), genealogies (e.g., Foucault and Agamben), and conceptual deconstructions (e.g., Arendt and Derrida) of sovereignty provides a succinct and rich treatment of each thinker’s critique of the onto-theological underpinning of sovereign violence and mastery that continue today, thereby demonstrating one important aspect of the political and normative relevance of Continental thought to the “mainstream” tradition of political philosophy. Second, Gratton “takes on the tradition” by challenging the most common post-9/11 philosophical discourses within the Continental tradition, namely the analyses of sovereignty grounded in the “formalisms of the ‘sovereign exception’” (3). Gratton’s text is an effort to move beyond these abstract considerations of the secularized remainders of political theology and Schmittian decisionism toward concrete consideration of popular sovereignty and the illegitimate excesses of sovereign power within the democratic nation-state. Gratton is ever alert to the ways in which nativist fictions legitimize the sovereign nation-state and de-legitimize certain individuals and communities within and outside its borders. For this reason, he labors to secure a place in political theory for the various genealogies and conceptual deconstructions of sovereignty and its justificatory fictions. (276)

He ends the review by asking why I had not treated cosmopolitanism at some length in the book: “This omission leaves unexamined whether or not cosmopolitanism is simply another sovereign fiction or how a non-sovereign future might also be cosmopolitan,” mentioning the work of Seyla Benhabib and Bonnie Honig in particular (279). This raises an excellent question about a pivot towards a more “positive” non-sovereign conception of the political, and certainly even in the authors I cover, Arendt and Derrida, for example, stand out for their writings on it. I would just quickly say that the language of cosmopolitanism, I think, has been usurped by the worst elements (though I do admire Honig’s work on this) and so I’ve avoided it–the world politics we have is one of globalization and sovereigntism (however much it was once thought those were somehow in tension), and thus its use becomes a Kantian-style abstraction or vague moralizing without much teeth in the face of what needs to be confronted.