Donate to Help the Translation & Publication of The Selected Works of Alfred Sohn-Rethel

Goal: $7,000.00

The wave of Marxian scholarship known as the New German Reading of Marx that emerged in dialogue with Frankfurt School Critical Theory in West Germany in the late-sixties and seventies has received unprecedented interest due to the popularity of its reception by authors such as Michael Heinrich, Moishe Postone, Werner Bonefeld, Christopher Arthur, Patrick Murray, Riccardo Bellofiore and Simon Clarke. However, little of this work has been translated into English.

We are planning to translate a series of seminal texts in Frankfurt School Critical Theory and the New German Reading of Marx by authors such as Hans-Georg Backhaus, Helmut Reichelt, Hans-Jürgen Krahl, Alfred Schmidt, Alfred Sohn-Rethel, and important later contributions such as those by Helmut Brentel, Joachim Hirsch, Dieter Wolf, Ingo Elbe, Roswitha Scholz, Nadja Rakowitz, Sonja Buckel, Sven Ellmers, Andreas Harms, Dirk Braunstein and Frank Engster. The next work in this series will be the Selected Works of Alfred Sohn Rethel.

This Collection will offer new editions of Sohn Rethel’s Intellectual and Manual Labour and The Economy and Class Structure of German Fascism, which will include translations of Antonio Negri’s introduction to the Italian edition of the former and Johannes Agnoli’s introduction to the German Edition of the latter. It will also offer translations of Sohn Rethel’s most important German works as well as his correspondence with Theodor W. Adorno.

We are now raising funds to translate the following, which will cost $7,000.

Contents

The Ideal of the Broken [Das Ideal des Kaputten – über neapolitanische Technik]
Money, the Cash-Value of the Apriori [Das Geld, die bare Münze des Apriori]
Technical Intelligence and Socialization of Labour [Technische Intelligenz und Vergesellschaftung der Arbeit]
Technical Intelligence between Capitalism and Socialism [Technische Intelligenz zwischen Kapitalismus und Sozialismus]
Sociological Theory of Knowledge [Soziologische Theorie der Erkenntnis]
The Commodity-Form and Form of Thought [Warenform und Denkform]
The Economic Double-Nature of Late Capitalism [Die ökonomische Doppelnatur des Spätkapitalismus]
The Form-Character of Second Nature [Die Formcharakter der zweiten Natur]

All donations over $100 will receive a free copy of one of the volumes of the Selected Works.

All donations over $200 will receive one free copy of two of the volumes of the Selected Works.

All donations over $300 will receive one free copy of three of the volumes of the Selected Works.

All donations over $400 will receive one free copy of four of the volumes of the Selected Works.

All donations over $500 will receive one free set of the Selected Works.

You can set up a recurring monthly donation here.

We are also hoping to translate:

Hans-Jürgen Krahl, [“Constitution and Class Struggle: On the Historical Dialectic of Bourgeois Emancipation and Proletarian Revolution”] Konstitution und Klassenkampf. Zur historischen Dialektik von bürgerlicher Emanzipation und proletarischer Revolution (Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Neue Kritik, 2008)

Helmut Reichelt, Zur logischen Struktur des Kapitalbegriffs bei Karl Marx[On the Logical Structure of the Concept of Capital in Marx] and Neue Marx-Lektüre. Zur Kritik sozialwissenschaftlicher Logik [New Marx-Reading: A Contribution to the Critique of Social Scientific Logic]

Dieter Wolf, Der dialektische Widerspruch im Kapital. Ein Beitrag zur Marxschen Werttheorie [The Dialectical Contradiction in Capital: Marx’s Theory of Value – A Contribution]

Ingo Elbe, Marx Im Westen. Die neue Marx-Lektüre in der Bundesrepublik seit 1965 [Marx in the West: The New Marx-Reading in the Federal Republic of Germany since 1965]

Roswitha Scholz, Das Geschlecht des Kapitalismus. Feministische Theorien und die postmoderne Metamorphose des Kapitals [The Gender of Capitalism: Feminist Theories and the Postmodern Metamorphosis of Capital]

Dirk Braunstein, Adornos Kritik der politischen Ökonomie [Adorno’s Critique of Political Economy]

Joachim Hirsch, Materialistische Staatstheorie. Transformationsprozesse des kapitalistischen Staatensystems [Materialist Theory of the State: Processes of Transformation in the Capitalist State System]

Helmut Brentel, Soziale Form und ökonomisches Objekt, Studien zum Gegenstands- und Methodenverständnis der Kritik der politischen Ökonomie [Social Form and Economic Object: Studies on the Understanding of Object and Method in the Critique of Political Economy]

Nadja Rakowitz, Einfache Warenproduktion. Ideal und Ideologie [Simple Commodity Production: Ideal and Ideology]

Andreas Arndt, Karl Marx: Versuch über den Zusammenhang seiner Theorie [Karl Marx: An Approach to his Theory as an Interconnected Whole]

Andreas Harms, Warenform und Rechtsform. Zur Rechtstheorie von Eugen Paschukanis [Commodity-Form and Form of Right/Law: On Evgeny Pashukanis’ Theory of Right/Law]

Sonja Buckel, Subjektivierung und Kohäsion. Zur Rekonstruktion einer materialistischen Theorie des Rechts [Subjectification and Cohesion: A Contribution to the Reconstruction of a Materialist Theory of Right/Law]

Sven Ellmers, Freiheit und Wirtschaft. Theorie der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft nach Hegel [Freedom and Economy: The Theory of Bourgeois Society After Hegel]

Frank Engster, Das Geld als Maß, Mittel und Methode: Das Rechnen mit der Identität der Zeit [Money as Measure, Means and Method: Calculating with, and Banking on, the Identity of Time]

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Call for Papers: What Critique?

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Organized by the Amherst Reading Group for Continental Philosophy,

University of Massachusetts Amherst

It has been more than a decade since Bruno Latour asked whether ‘critique has run out of steam’–whether the ubiquity of ‘being critical’ has not rendered ‘critique’ redundant. Admittedly, critique is often spoken of in university discourse as though its meaning were self-evident, though its concept is not made explicit. The persistence of critique in its various forms nevertheless indicates a perennial need and dissatisfaction with prevailing modes of thought. But what is critique? In its original Kantian formulation, thoroughgoing critique concerns examining presuppositions and immanent limits of thought and its objects–and post-Kantian thinkers developed this line of thought in the various ways that have resulted in the curious situation at present.

This conference intends to address the question of critique by way of a number of concerns: What is the relation between critique and criticism? What are the stakes of critique and uncritical discourse? Is critique a method or does method risk dogmatism? Does a critical project concern merely dismantling foundations or uncovering and clarifying foundations? Can/must critique be applied to itself in order to avoid being mere criticism or dogmatism? What is the relation between critique and speculative thought? Does critique belong to Modernity, or is such a belief in itself an uncritical assumption? What is the relation between critique and secularism? Above all, what coherent and precise account of ‘critique’ can be given in light of its various guises and practices today?

The aim of this conference is to clarify the concept of critique by considering and developing its actual practices in various disciplines. The Amherst Reading Group for Continental Philosophy invites papers addressing, but not limited to, the role and conception of critique involved the following domains:

  • Literary criticism/theory & aesthetics/aesthetic theory
  • Political economy, political theory & political theology
  • Philosophy & history of philosophy
  • Marx/Marxism, psychoanalysis & critical theory
  • Deconstruction, structuralism & post-structuralism
  • Feminism & queer theory
  • Critical race theory & post-colonial theory
  • History/methodology of the humanities, social & natural sciences

Please submit paper-abstracts (not exceeding 250 words) and a short bio to umasscontphil@gmail.com by February 15th, 2016 for consideration. The conference will be held on April 23, 2016 in Amherst. Submissions from graduate students and recent PhDs are especially welcome. Confirmed Keynote Speaker Luis Guzman (New School) will be presenting “Negativity, Skepticism and Critique in Hegel”.

https://umasscontphil.wordpress.com

‘Understanding’ ‘Reason’

The last noteworthy thing – a nice excerpt from Zizek’s first text. English translation below.

Die Vernunft is keineswegs ein “mehr” in Bezug auf den Verstand, eine Bewegung, ein lebendiger Prozess, welcher dem toten Skelett der Verstandeskategorien entgehen würde – die Vernunft ist der Verstand selbst, insofern ihm nichts fehlt, insofern es nichts jenseits vom ihm gibt: Sie ist die absolute Form, außerhalb derer kein Inhalt besteht. Man bleibt auf der Ebene des Verstandes, solange man denkt, dass es “jenseits’ von ihm etwas gibt, das sich ihm entzieht – eine außer-verständige Kraft, eine dem “rigiden Schematismus” der Verstandeskategorien unzugänglich Unbekannte – und solange man dieses Jenseits “Vernunft” nennt. Der Schritt zur Vernunft fügt jedoch dem Verstand nichts hinzu, er zieht ihm eher etwas ab (das Phantom des Objekts, das jenseits seiner Form besteht), das heißt, er reduziert ihn auf sein formelles Verfahren: Man geht über den Verstand “hinaus”, wenn man bemerkt, das der Verstand schon in sich selbst diese lebendige Bewegung der Selbstvermittlung ist, die man in seinem Jenseits suchte.

Zizek, Slavoj. Der erhabenste aller Hysteriker. S. 27

Reason is in no way a “more” in relation to the understanding, a movement, a living process, which would escape the dead skeleton of the categories of the understanding – reason is the understanding itself to the extent that nothing is lacking in it, to the extent that there is nothing beyond it: it is the absolute form, outside of which no content subsists. One remains on the level of the understanding, as long as one thinks that there is something “beyond” it that escapes it – a power outside of the understanding, an unknown inaccessible to the “rigid schematism” of the categories of the understanding – and as long as one calls this beyond “reason”. The step to reason nevertheless adds nothing, but rather takes something away (the phantom of the object that subsists beyond its form), that means it reduces it to a formal procedure: one goes ‘above and beyond’ the understanding when one notices that the understanding is already this living movement of self-mediation itself, that one sought in the beyond.

Another Unorthodox Possibility: Exkursion-Seminar

For those looking for something a little less orthodox and outside of the classroom, I recommend taking an ‘Exkursion-Seminar’. This is basically a block seminar that is on sight at whatever location is relevant to the course-content. I think that it would be a good idea to take a Blok/Exkursion-seminar in any case, but the course that I attended was also good in particular. It is a great way to learn something about Germany and German in an immediate context. In my case, this meant going to Wiesbaden – an old ‘spa town’ almost twice the size of Heidelberg in the Rhine area near Frankfurt – for 2 days to learn about the history of modern religion (Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Russian Orthodox and Islamic) up to present religious diversity in Germany.

First, I will say something regarding the course generally. It was lead by Dr. Susanne Claußen. She is multi-lingual, an expert in her field and puts together a very interesting program for a seminar – vielen herzlichen Dank!

I would recommend taking it if it is offered. For the exact syllabus click here: Handout Vorbesprechung (in German); but to quickly mention the topics and course content, it included: media and secularization 1803/06 in the instance of Nassau, the Mennonite community as minority in and outside of Germany, Jewish emancipation in Nassau and Prussia, Prussian legislation (on religious freedoms, civil marriage, and corporate law), cultural struggle in the example of the diocese of Limburg, the Wiesbaden program in the church construction, legislation regarding associations in the NS period and the legal situation since 1949. The course requirements entailed doing a presentation/leading a session on one of the course topics. In my case I had to conduct research and present this material on the relation of Jewish emancipation in Germany to the events of 1848 – a very interesting era and a great opportunity to learn about something outside of my normal academic routine.

The course also consisted of a very well organized trip through the city and informative tour of the major historical and cultural-religious sites of the area. In particular, meetings and presentations were organized with key members of the diverse religious communities: we met with Herr Şahin, of the Turkish-Islamic Süleymaniye-Mosque and with Pfarrer Klaus Endter of Wiesbaden’s Ecumenical-Christian Organization. But we also met with Dr. Hans-Jörg Czech of the Wiesbaden Stadtmuseum, for a discussion and presentation on historical-cultural inheritance. These were all events that simply would not have been possible otherwise – a great perspective into a series of communities and histories that I had known very little of.

Just to say something quickly about the city and some of its more notable historical-cultural landmarks, I would like to highlight the following most notable aspects of the area:

1) The mineral-springs going back to ancient times, which are to be found throughout the city:

2) The Heidenmauer (the ‘Heathen-wall’), ruins dating back to the Roman presence in the area:

3) The Bonifatius Catholic Church:

4) The amazing Saint Elizabeth Russian Orthodox Church (there is a rather tragic story behind this…) and its adjacent traditional cemetery:

and 5) the incredible red-stone church towers on the Marktplatz of the city:

While I can inevitably not do justice to this course, the city’s history and everything that I left out in this space of this blog post, I hope to have at least given an idea of what a Exkursion-Seminar is and some interesting sights in Wiesbaden. It was a really rewarding time spent in Wiesbaden with an inter-disciplinary group of Religionswissenschaftler (‘Religion-Scientists’, roughly…), and a great chance to learn the about the historical religious context and background of Germany. I hope you get a chance to check it out!

What to do at the semester’s end? Go to the symphony!

Heidelberg Symphony 2 Heidelberg Symphony 1

I recently saw the University of Heidelberg’s student symphony perform Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in the Stadtstheater (which is very nice), and I would strongly recommend that you go check it out if you get the chance. They perform at the end of every semester, are talented and the tickets are affordable. It is nice to be able to see a symphony that is oriented such that students are welcome and without having to go to Frankfurt.

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This is not their performance, but if you are not already familiar with the piece and would like to check it out, here you are:

It was a very very powerful performance in the old city-theatre – an excellent way to end the year.

I previously saw their performance organized around the theme of the ‘new world’ where they performed pieces by DvorakVilla Lobos and Gershwin – they have excellent selections!

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