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Philosophy and Critical Pedagogy

Insurrection and Commonwealth


Charles Reitz

Critical pedagogy, political economics, and aesthetic theory combine with dialectical and materialist understandings of science, society, and revolutionary politics to develop the most radical goals of society and education. In Philosophy and Critical Pedagogy: Insurrection and Commonwealth, Marcuse’s hitherto misunderstood and neglected philosophy of labor is reconsidered, resulting in a labor theory of ethics. This develops commonwealth criteria of judgment regarding the real and enduring economic and political possibilities that concretely encompass all of our engagement and action. Marcuse’s newly discovered 1974 Paris Lectures are examined and the theories of Georg Lukács and Ernest Manheim contextualize the analysis to permit a critical assessment of the nature of dialectical methodology today. Revolutionary strategy and a common-ground political program against intensifying inequalities of class, race, and gender comprise the book’s commonwealth counter-offensive.


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Chapter 4. The “Linguistic Turn” and Anti-Foundationalism


· 4 · the “linguistic turn” and anti-foundationalism 1. Wittgenstein’s Evasion of Philosophy The ideas of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Friedrich Nietzsche stand at the thresh- old of the contemporary language and logic of postmodernism. Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations (PI) taught the postmoderns1 how to challenge objectivist theories of knowledge by deconstructing “metaphysics” into lan- guage, and how to debunk reflexivity and grand narration in speech in favor of a relativist epistemology and a banal functionalist analysis. This linguistic “turn” in social theory holds that the critical theory of society must first of all recognize that we use speech as a tool to get work done, and that our linguistic behavior primarily has a game-like character. Wittgenstein tells us we are to “look on the language-game as the primary thing” (PI 656). “Our 1 Lyotard, Baudrillard, Foucault, and Hardt and Negri are intended here, and will be treated briefly below. Numbers given in references to PI ([1945-49] 1999) and other volumes by Wittgenstein are not page numbers, but the references given to each of his explicitly numbered statements. Nietzsche’s Will to Power (written 1883-88, but only posthumously published in 1930) likewise has each aphoristic entry numbered; as does his (1882) Gay Science. 74 philosophy & critical pedagogy mistake [has been] to look for an explanation where we ought…to have said: this language-game is being played” (PI 654). For Wittgenstein, philosophy’s sole task was “stating the rules of the game.…” (PI 109). Philosophy was neither to explain nor analyze, rather it was but to take...

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