Sunday, September 12, 2010

Freedom and Personhood: Two Reviews

Though you were expecting another tirade, I offer links to two recent book reviews. 

Peter Gratton reviews Jonathan Franzen's Freedom over at Philosophy in a Time of Error. Here's a catchy excerpt:
Let me take an inelegant analogy, but since I’m teaching Husserl, I find it apt: this is certainly a phenomenology of characters, the best I’ve read (or rather, I suppose, I’ve read in a recent work) for some time. He detaches us from the natural attitude of realism (this is the word he has championed in interviews) for an eidetic reduction into literature. There, on the page, we can twist and turn each person from various angles, from various personae or masks, just as we turn each page, seeing them from behind and front, and thus developing a “sympathy” he notes one of the characters has innately for even the worst among us; literary realisms tend to leave character behind in the passing of scenes and details. Definitively not so with this work.
And Scu reviews Roberto Esposito's Terza persona: Politica della vita e filosofia dell'impersonale (Third Person: Politics of Life and Philosophy of the Impersonal) at Critical Animal:
The book is, in many ways, very Agamben-esque. In both the good and bad senses of that term. Everything is empty metaphysical machines separating and rearranging bodies into killable and protected in zones of indetermination. And of course the teleology of all of this is the Nazis. The solution is, of course, to render the machine inoperative by exiting from the metaphysics associated with the machine. A lot of sillyness is pushed against supporters of human rights and bio-ethicists (I'm sorry, I find it hard to believe that what this world needs is less attention paid to practical ethics, or that was really drove the logics of the Third Reich was bio-ethics and human rights). It is very learned and nuanced, with fascinating arguments and insights.

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