Contemporary French Philosophy: Modernity and the Persistence of the Subject

Contemporary French Philosophy: Modernity and the Persistence of the Subject

by Caroline Williams


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"Caroline Williams marks what is distinctive about 20th Century French philosophy's interrogation of the subject and demonstrates its historical continuity in a lucid, balanced and utterly convincing way."
David Wood, Vanderbilt University

French philosophy and cultural theory continue to hold a prestigious and influential position in European thought. One of the central themes of contemporary French philosophy is its concern with the theoretical and political status of the subject, a question which has been broached by structuralists and poststructuralists through an analysis of the construction of the subject in and by language, discourse, power and ideology.

Contemporary French Philosophy outlines the construction of the subject in modern philosophy, focusing in particular on the seminal work of Althusser, Lacan, Derrida and Foucault. The book interrogates some of the most influential perspectives on the question of the subject to contest those postmodern voices which announce its disappearance or death. It argues instead that the question of the subject persists, even in those perspectives which seek to abandon it altogether.

Providing a broad introduction to the field and an original analysis of some of the most influential theorists of the 20th century, the book will be of great interest to political and literary theorists, cultural historians, as well as to philosophers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826479228
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date: 12/01/2005
Series: Continuum Collection Series
Edition description: ANN
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.56(d)

About the Author

Caroline Williams is Lecturer in Political Theory at Queen Mary and Westfield College. She has written on feminism, subjectivity and psychoanalysis.

Table of Contents

1.Inheriting Problems and Paradoxes: Subjectivity and Modern Philosophy12
I.Descartes and the birth of the modern cogito14
II.Spinoza's philosophy of substance: the decomposition and recomposition of the subject18
III.Hegelian phenomenology: constructing the subject of history27
2.Marxism and Subjectivity: from Lukacs to Althusser38
I.Returning to Lukacs40
II.The encounter between structuralism and subjectivity54
III.Althusser and the repositioning of the subject56
3.Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity and the Vita Lingua78
I.Lacan's theory of the subject82
II.The paradox of the subject: between philosophy and psychoanalysis92
III.Psychoanalysis, subjectivity and the political102
4.Derrida, Subjectivity and the Politics of Differance109
I.Situating deconstruction: Derrida, Althusser and Lacan112
II.Deconstruction and the subject: contesting the subject as self-presence122
III.Deconstruction and political critique140
5.The Discursive Construction of the Subject152
I.Archaeologies of the subject156
II.Foucauldian dilemmas: thinking the limits of discourse170
III.Genealogies of the subject: power and subjection175
Conclusion - The Persistence of the Subject190

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