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Author: Thomas Osborne

This book is concerned with the scope of cultural theory in its modern, it might even be said in its modernist, form. The three thinkers under most consideration in the book are Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu, who might hardly be seen as representatives of cultural theory per se if that enterprise is taken to be what it should often taken to be. The book starts with Adorno (1903-1969) not just because his work is an apt way to introduce further some very basic themes of the book: in particular those of critical autonomy and educationality. Adorno's reflections on art and culture are contributions to the ethical understanding of autonomy, emphasising the importance of the cultivation of critical reflection. The argument here is that he is, rather, an ethico-critical theorist of democracy and a philosopher of hope. The book then situates the work of Michel Foucault (1926-1984), in other ways so different from Adorno, in terms of a broadly, if minimally, parallel agenda in modern cultural theory. It outlines some of the importance of Foucault's notion of an 'aesthetics of existence' in relation to his work as a whole. It further invokes related themes in the work of Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002). Finally, it moves things in a different direction, towards postmodernism, invoking the increasing role of the cultural and aesthetic dimension in contemporary experience that is often taken as a central aspect of the postmodern turn.

Abstract only
Thomas Osborne

reflexive aspect of morality – where morality, if anything, undoes itself. 2 In any case, whatever its ethical ambit, modern cultural theory has absolutely nothing to do with any given system of morality. What, then, is the aim of the critical ethics espoused by modern cultural theory? If there is a predominant aim it is that of critical autonomy – the Enlightenment ideal, discussed further in Chapter 1 , of maturity in understanding, of not being dependent upon another’s judgement. And again, such critical autonomy is obviously tied to but hardly co

in The structure of modern cultural theory
Thomas Osborne

art at least as an ethico-critical beacon, and indicator – however contradictory and fading – of the principle of autonomy, however currently moribund that principle is, Baudrillard’s world is not ethical in this sense at all. Critical autonomy has simply ceased to be an issue. What is at stake is not the ethico-critical understanding of autonomy but the epistemic documentation – if perhaps not always, as many of the critics of postmodern writings tend to suggest, the celebration – of its abandonment. In fact, this is not necessarily to damn postmodernism

in The structure of modern cultural theory
Thomas Osborne

really matter who its addressees are because the truth, according to this genre of truth-telling, is always the same – then modern cultural theory relates to the truth in a somewhat different way from such a positive discourse. It is not that it seeks not to tell the truth, or to tell lies, or even that it seeks to be interesting and (for example) provocatively Nietzschean; only that it relates to the truth specifically, and limitedly, with regard to a particular – ethical – interest. It is concerned with the fortunes of critical autonomy. More specifically, modern

in The structure of modern cultural theory
Abstract only
Thomas Osborne

of ethics has been at stake here. A concern with ethics has been designated as a concern with the values of ethico-critical autonomy as a guiding principle of inquiry: autonomy as that Enlightenment regulatory ideal of being free of dependency, whether as an individual or as a collective. Autonomy, in this sense, is processual not substantive: it can refer to the autonomisation of, say, the arts from other fields of experience but invokes little of the substance of what is at stake here. So no particularly substantive vision of autonomy has been offered; and this

in The structure of modern cultural theory
Open Access (free)
An epilogue
Saurabh Dube

, especially producing wall panels for the Haripura session of the Indian National Congress in 1938. Arguably, this association of nationalism, community, and (the insistence on) a formal clarity acquired distinct dimensions among Bose’s students, even as their experiments bore testimony to the critical autonomy of aesthetic traditions. Thus, if the painter K. G. Subramanyan honed an expressive, imaginative

in Subjects of modernity
Marc James Léger

all forms of unjust debt. The assembly created a space to rethink debt as a political platform for collective resistance and action. Design by Sandy Sanders. Courtesy of Strike Debt Bay Area. In contrast to the avant-gardist stance cultivated by some artists to exploit art world values for the promise of potential or future social effectivity, Strike Debt does not focus on art tactics such as irony, defamiliarisation or critical autonomy, but rather distances itself from any concern with genre

in Vanguardia
Abstract only
Medicalising borders
Sevasti Trubeta, Christian Promitzer, and Paul Weindling

including the sanitary implications of the Suez Canal, while the USA in ‘their’ hemisphere started to organise specific pan-American sanitary conferences in the early twentieth century both in the run-up to the opening of the Panama Canal and in the wake of it. 38 A key issue is whether an international health organisation had critical autonomy to address inadequacies of state provisions towards citizens, and to look beyond state interests that could be authoritarian and restrictive. (Dis)connecting places and shifting borders Sanitary borders become displaced in

in Medicalising borders
The origins, characteristics and theoretical foundation of the nineteenth-century French realist, and naturalist tradition
Ian Aitken

moral heroism, sacrifice and tragic circumstance than with contemporary concerns over nationalism, patriotism or republicanism. 19 Between the 1780s, and the inauguration of the Napoleonic Empire in 1799, neo-classicism was a relatively autonomous critical aesthetic practice. However, during the Napoleonic period, from 1799 to 1815, and that of the Restoration, from 1815 to 1830, the critical autonomy of neo

in Realist film theory and cinema
Thomas Osborne

‘moral self-assessment’. 74 Another way to put this would be to say that the Esquisse pour une auto-analyse functions as a test and so ultimately a confirmation – and not a repudiation – of Bourdieu’s own sensibility of ethico-critical autonomy. Antinomies of universalism So in fact it would be a mistake to think that Bourdieu simply repudiates the model of the intellectual and, in so doing, repudiates the objectivising impulses of ‘scientific’ thought. His ambivalence towards intellectualism has been invoked, not his outright rejection of it, so

in The structure of modern cultural theory