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Simon Mussell

4 Expectant emotion and the politics of hope ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers. –​Emily Dickinson Without feathers. –​ Woody Allen On 13 March 1956, Max Horkheimer, in conversation with his friend and ­collaborator Theodor Adorno, made the following remark: ‘I do not believe that things will turn out well, but the idea that they might is of decisive importance.’ This double movement of thought, an open dialectic that abjures the false choice between optimism and pessimism, registers one of the core motivating affects of critical theory: hope. Indeed, there are

in Critical theory and feeling
Open Access (free)
In the beginning was song
Mads Qvortrup

emotions. In Dictionnaire de musique he wrote that Chap006.p65 112 11/09/03, 13:36 In the beginning was song 113 music acts more intimately on us by in a sense arousing in us feelings similar to those, which might be aroused by another … may all nature be asleep, he who contemplates it does not sleep, and the art of the musician consists in substituting for the insensible image of the object that of the movements which its presence arouses in the heart of he who contemplates. (V: 860–1) Music, in other words, held the key to restoring our original emotions, that

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Abstract only
Melancholic dispositions and conscious unhappiness
Simon Mussell

the current political economy of emotion that binds happiness and wellbeing to positivity, productivity, and measurable output. Revisiting the work of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno through a more affective lens can sharpen our understanding of what is at stake when the political and the emotional are thought together, as opposed to being divided into their respective social/​objective and individual/​subjective spheres. In foregrounding the complex and potentially critical aspects of melancholic dispositions and conscious (or wilful) unhappiness, this chapter

in Critical theory and feeling
The affective politics of the early Frankfurt School
Author: Simon Mussell

This book offers a unique and timely reading of the early Frankfurt School in response to the recent 'affective turn' within the arts and humanities. It revisits some of the founding tenets of critical theory in the context of the establishment of the Institute for Social Research in the early twentieth century. The book focuses on the work of Walter Benjamin, whose varied engagements with the subject of melancholia prove to be far more mobile and complex than traditional accounts. It also looks at how an affective politics underpins critical theory's engagement with the world of objects, exploring the affective politics of hope. Situating the affective turn and the new materialisms within a wider context of the 'post-critical', it explains how critical theory, in its originary form, is primarily associated with the work of the Frankfurt School. The book presents an analysis of Theodor Adorno's form of social critique and 'conscious unhappiness', that is, a wilful rejection of any privatized or individualized notion of happiness in favour of a militant and political discontent. A note on the timely reconstruction of early critical theory's own engagements with the object world via aesthetics and mimesis follows. The post-Cold War triumphalism of many on the right, accompanied by claims of the 'end of history', created a sense of fearlessness, righteousness, and unfettered optimism. The book notes how political realism has become the dominant paradigm, banishing utopian impulses and diminishing political hopes to the most myopic of visions.

Kant
Andrew Bowie

Enlightenment tradition of understanding music and objects, by seeing music as a ‘language of emotions’ (CJ B p. 220, A p. 217). Music represents feelings, in much the same way as language supposedly represents ideas or objects. Johann Mattheson talked in 1739, for example, of how an ‘Adagio indicates distress, a Lamento lamentation, a Lento relief, an Andante hope, an Affetuoso love, an Allegro comfort, a Presto eagerness, etc.’ (ed. Strunk 1998 p. 699). However, Kant does not adopt this literalist conception in every respect. Music also communicates aesthetic ideas, but

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
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Once more, with feeling
Simon Mussell

Introduction: once more, with feeling Once the last trace of emotion has been eradicated, nothing remains of thought but absolute tautology. –​ Theodor W. Adorno1 For most of its history, political philosophy has been distrustful of feelings. Its adherents have often cordoned off the mind from the body, thought from ­feeling, active subjects from passive objects. From the pre-​Socratics onward, the bulk of philosophical tradition has been concerned with policing the boundaries between reason on the one hand, and emotion on the other. In turn, this division gives

in Critical theory and feeling
Mads Qvortrup

This chapter outlines the major philosophical problem for Rousseau: the burden of modernity. It gives an account of Rousseau's place in the emerging world of modernity, and his opposition to secularism and scientism. It shows how his general philosophical—and theological—opposition to modernity underpinned his moral philosophy. Unlike liberal or utilitarian thinkers, Rousseau sought to base his moral judgements on emotions and sensibility, not on rational calculations. It is shown how this made him overcome the poverty of ethical theory that has characterised modernity—and how Rousseau invented post-modernism (with a pre-modern face). The chapter also contains a section on Rousseau's economic philosophy, in which it is shown that he—like Adam Smith—succeeded in transcending the economic theories of mercantilists and physiocrats. An analysis of the relationship between Rousseau and Burke is also presented. Often seen as adversaries, the chapter shows that Rousseau and Burke, in fact, were in agreement on the majority of issues, including opposition to revolutionary change, reverence for religion, and a preference for gradual reform.

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Critical theory and the affective turn
Simon Mussell

1 Thinking through feeling: critical theory and the affective turn The assumption that thought profits from the decay of the emotions, or even that it remains unaffected, is itself an expression of the process of stupefaction.1 In this opening chapter, I will begin by offering an overview of the particular form of critical theory on which this book will focus, namely that of the first-​ generation Frankfurt School, since I believe that there is still much of interest within this tradition of thought for our present time. I will then set out the contemporary

in Critical theory and feeling
Abstract only
Simon Mussell

feature as a starting point, because in unpacking the covert presuppositions of the very notion of a ‘post-​truth’ politics, one can begin to better understand not only why the votes for Brexit and Trump actually came to pass, but also why they were unforeseen by so many commentators and pollsters. Oxford Dictionaries announced that their ‘word of the year’ for 2016 was ‘post-​truth’. They define it as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’. The OED notes

in Critical theory and feeling
Abstract only
Steven Earnshaw

Your Life: Volume 1, which argues that only by training the unconscious mind can we overcome addiction to drink.12 Nevertheless, elements of the Existential drinker do linger, as with Patrick deWitt’s Ablutions (2009). The title, coupled with a discussion of ‘ablutions’ which occurs towards the opening, has overtones of religious cleansing. But the bartender narrator is unable to connect with his own emotions and life, and drink-​walks through a marital breakdown and numerous sexual encounters with customers, episodes which are graphically recorded. The distancing

in The Existential drinker