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Intersecting Philosophical Planes

Philosophical Essays

Bert Olivier

The philosophical essays collected here are predicated on the conviction that we live in a time when all-encompassing philosophical systems can no longer be seriously entertained as a true reflection of extant reality. Instead, an indefinite number of perspectives on – or discursive appropriations of – what is thought of as ‘reality’ are possible. Sometimes they diverge and sometimes they intersect in surprising ways, as these essays show. While the belief in an all-inclusive philosophical system is rejected, the author shows that every perspective displays a coherence and illuminating power of its own.
The collection is divided into two parts. The first considers philosophy, the individual and society, covering themes including the deleterious effects of capitalism on natural ecosystems, the modern conception of ‘immortality’ in Nietzsche’s thought, Lacan’s provocative interpretation of capitalist discourse, the current status of the humanities in universities, individual autonomy, the meaning of ‘identification’, global ‘terrorism’, and Plato’s philosophical self-subversion. The second part gathers together perspectives on the arts and society, with the author arguing that reflections on cinema, architecture and music never isolate these arts from social concerns, but demonstrate their interconnectedness.


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Preface xiii


Preface This volume brings together a number of essays or articles that appeared in a variety of journals between 2005 and 2011, although the highest con- centration of these is to be found between 2009 and 2010. As even an untrained eye will notice, they truly represent ‘intersecting philosophical planes’, because, although they converge in what is clearly recognizable as ‘philosophical space’, their thematic orientation is heterogeneous. In the section on ‘Philosophy, the individual and society’, for instance, ref lections on the relationship between the dominant economic system of neoliberal capitalism and nature rub shoulders with Nietzschean meditations on ‘immortality’, a Lacanian perspective on the discourse of the capitalist, the question of the strange, ‘quasi-universalist’ status of the humanities, ques- tions concerning the process of identification, the possibility of individual autonomy in Foucaultian terms, of terrorism in relation to cosmopolitan- ism, and of Plato’s subversion of his own phenomenology of love in the Symposium. Hence, some essays may strike the reader as belonging in the field of ecological philosophy, others in the philosophy of science, or in psycho- analytic theory, or the specialized fields of Plato and Nietzsche studies. But whatever the case may be, the thematic and discipline-oriented diversity – which are related, but not identical – should not blind one to the fact that a philosophical thread runs through them all, and holds these ‘intersecting planes’ together. In brief, there are both coherence (instead of ‘unity’) and diversity here, a kind of coherent diversity. The same is true of the...

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