For more than forty years, the philosopher Martin Heidegger logged ideas and opinions in a series of notebooks, known as the “Black Notebooks” after the black oilcloth booklets into which he first transcribed his thoughts. In 2014, the notebooks from 1931 to 1941 were published, sparking immediate controversy. It has long been acknowledged that Heidegger was an enthusiastic supporter of the Nazi Party in the early 1930s.
Is pleasure a rotten idea, mired in negativity and lack, which should be abandoned in favor of a new concept of desire? Or is desire itself fundamentally a matter of lack, absence, and loss? This is one of the crucial issues dividing the work of Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Lacan, two of the most formidable figures of postwar French thought. Though the encounter with psychoanalysis deeply marked Deleuze’s work, we are yet to have a critical account of the very different postures he adopted toward psychoanalysis, and especially Lacanian theory, throughout his career.
In this book, Colin McGinn presents a concise, clear, and compelling argument that the origins of knowledge are innate—that nativism, not empiricism, is correct in its theory of how concepts are acquired. McGinn considers the particular case of sensible qualities—ideas of color, shape, taste, and so on. He argues that these, which he once regarded as the strongest case for the empiricist position, are in fact not well explained by the empiricist account that they derive from interactions with external objects.
Heidegger’s Being and Time is one of the most influential and important books in the history of philosophy, but it was left unfinished. The parts we have of it, Divisions I and II of Part One, were meant to be merely preparatory for the unwritten Division III, which was to have formed the point of the entire book when it turned to the topic of being itself.
Franco “Bifo” Berardi’s newest book analyzes the contemporary changes taking place in our aesthetic and emotional sensibility—changes the author claims are the result of semio-capitalism’s capturing of the inner resources of the subjective process: our experience of time, our sensibility, the way we relate to each other, and our ability to imagine a future. Precarization and fractalization of labor have provoked a deep mutation in the psychosphere, and this can be seen in the rise of psychopathologies such as post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, panic, and attention deficit disorder.
Is there a cultural logic of what we have come to call the information age? Have the technologies and techniques centered on the computer provided not only tools but also the metaphors through which we now understand the social and economic formation of our world? In Control, Seb Franklin addresses the conditions of knowledge that make the concept of the “information economy” possible while at the same time obscuring its deleterious effects on material social spaces.
This book is a hymn to the hand. In Prehension, Colin McGinn links questions from science to philosophical concerns to consider something that we take for granted: the importance of the hand in everything we do. Drawing on evolutionary biology, anatomy, archaeology, linguistics, psychology, and philosophy, among other disciplines, McGinn examines the role of the hand in shaping human evolution. He finds that the development of our capacity to grasp, to grip, to take hold (also known as prehension) is crucial in the emergence of Homo sapiens.
In this landmark 1984 work on free will, Daniel Dennett makes a case for compatibilism. His aim, as he writes in the preface to this new edition, was a cleanup job, “saving everything that mattered about the everyday concept of free will, while jettisoning the impediments.” In Elbow Room, Dennett argues that the varieties of free will worth wanting—those that underwrite moral and artistic responsibility—are not threatened by advances in science but distinguished, explained, and justified in detail.
Santayana’s Life of Reason, published in five books from 1905 to 1906, ranks as one of the greatest works in modern philosophical naturalism. Acknowledging the natural material bases of human life, Santayana traces the development of the human capacity for appreciating and cultivating the ideal. It is a capacity he exhibits as he articulates a continuity running through animal impulse, practical intelligence, and ideal harmony in reason, society, art, religion, and science. The work is an exquisitely rendered vision of human life lived sanely.