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Dialectics Beyond Dialectics

Translated by Cain Elliott and Jan Burzyński


Malgorzata Kowalska

Dialectics beyond Dialectics is a study of contemporary French philosophy from Bataille to Derrida. It analyses, on the first level of generalization, the decomposition of Hegelianism understood as philosophy of totality. Many French philosophers of the 20 th century deconstruct Hegelian dialectics and harshly criticize the very idea of totality as either dangerous or impossible. The thesis of the book is that, on doing so, they do not really break with dialectics, but transform it. On the second level of generalization, the issue of the book is modernity and the thesis is that transformations of dialectics reveal transformations of modern consciousness which – despite hasty declarations on the end of modernity – still remains ours.
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Afterword: Post-dialectics and Postmodernity



Post-dialectics and Postmodernity

It is hard to briefly and cogently summarize considerations devoted not only to many different authors, but also to a variety of particular problems. It is also hard to formulate the final conclusions concerning such a wide, complex, and delicate matter as the contemporary transformations of dialectics. Because this book is already larger than originally intended, I will not exhaust the reader with further discussions and conclusions. The following text is therefore not a summary, but rather the introduction to a summary. After all, it is not hard to agree that not only there is no “last word” either in philosophy or different discourses, but also that a totalizing or unifying summary of a book is always arbitrary.

The philosophical conceptions discussed in this book do not form a coherent totality. They present neither a uniform understanding of Hegelian dialectics nor a uniform strategy of criticizing it, let alone a new project of dialectics that would be even remotely uniform. In fact, they cannot even be said to constitute different links in a comprehensible evolutionary chain of development. For what they constitute is rather a multilayered mutation of dialectics, its complex and multidirectional differentiation, which produces not so much a series as a network of conceptions more or less distanced from their Hegelian model or “prototype.”

Nonetheless, all these conceptions share some commonalities or affinities that make it possible to see them as a kind of arborescent post-Hegelian...

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