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Theory / Practice

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This would be an open-ended reading and discussion group centered around the relationship between theory and practice. The topic is purposefully large and the class would be structured as a monthly or bi-monthly meeting to discuss a reading chosen by the group. This format will allow the class to explore and tease out these relationships in philosophy, politics, ethics, arts practice, etc, etc. Hopefully by looking at the issue from a number of angles, domains, and styles of thought, we will find new connections and new articulations.

Readings may include:

  • Marx
  • Spivak
  • Rorty
  • Habermas
  • Laclau
  • Kant
  • Speaks
  • Derrida
  • Aristotle
  • Dewey
  • Marcuse
  • Lukács
  • Gadamer

and on and on. 



A possible place to start might be with chapter 1 of Karl Marx's, 'Capital.' It is here that Marx defines the essence of capitalism as, ultimately, a social relation. The object of capitalism is not commodities, but social relations. Deleuze and Guattari echo this by saying that capitalism functions and proliferates itself by a process of fragmenting and segmenting the social field. All of this, of course, makes it easier for capital to dominate and regulate the relations that exist between people.

Praxis, in radical opposition, forms relations between heterogeneous groups that cross these fixed boundaries- a traversing. Guattari defines revolution as a process of "decompartmentalization."

I don't know, maybe? . . .

sarahkessler's picture

This class is in the midst of organization and we are planning a first session for mid-January, 2010. Stay tuned, and send along any and all ideas for how we should proceed!

This class seems so pressing . . . What's going on?

yes absolutely. I had imagined that the thesis on feuerbach as the ideal place to start. The use of the term praxis in particular is an interesting path, as it comes to play such a central role in the thinking of the frankfurt school as well. In that vein it might be interesting to read some aristotle as well.

robtsum's picture


Where is this quote by Merleau-Ponty to be found? It is very insightful.

As ever, Robert

It might be fruitful to look at Marx's idea of 'praxis' found in his early writings. Use of the word 'praxis' instead of action was central in the development of French philosophy from 1950-60. Merleau-Ponty writes:

"What Marx calls praxis is the meaning which appears spontaneously at the intersection of the actions by which man organizes his relationship with nature and with others."


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