Bite Size Theory: The Ethics of Deconstruction

“Democracy is a fragile, agnostic, doxic form of political life, where fragility is the price to be paid for the refusal of all forms of immanentism. Democracy is the politics of difficulty, opacity, and dirty hands, of the fact that the social is not a complete, transparent oeuvre, that political action is always taken on an open, undecidable terrain.”

Simon Critchley, 1992, The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas, Blackwell.

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Bite Size Theory: Complications: Communism and the Dilemmas of Democracy

“At the source of democracy can be found the rejection of a number of things: power detached from the social ensemble, law that governs an immutable order, and a spiritual authority possessing knowledge of the ultimate ends of human conduct and of the community. However, it is not enough to say at the source of democracy: this rejection has been democracy’s permanent driving energy. A force of negativity inhabits it.”

Claude Lefort, 1999, Complications: Communism and the Dilemmas of Democracy. New York, Columbia University Press

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Bite Size Theory: The Sources of Social Power (Volume 4)

“Neoliberals, like socialists, must compromise with power realities to achieve any of their goals. So within what is often called the neoliberal movement I distinguish four tendencies: principled neoliberalism elevating markets and individualism, the interests of capitalists, the interests of political elites, and a conservatism that uses the state to enforce morality, law and order, nationalism, and militarism. Though there is overlap among all of these, it is useful analytically to separate them.”

Michael Mann, 2013, The Sources of Social Power: Volume 4, Globalizations, 1945-2011, Cambridge University Press.

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Bite Size Theory: Turning Operations

“Politics is an irreducibly strategic concern and a domain of strategic action.”

Mary Dietz, 2002, Turning Operations: Feminism, Arendt, and Politics, Routledge.

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Bite Size Theory: Religion and Rationality

“I only want to say that the evidence of my relation to a theological heritage does not bother me, as long as one recognizes the methodological difference of the discourses: that is, as long as the philosophical discourse conforms to the distinctive demands of justificatory speech. In my view, a philosophy that oversteps the bounds of methodological atheism loses its philosophical seriousness.”

Jürgen Habermas, 2002, Religion and Rationality: Essays on Reason, God, and Modernity, Polity Press.

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Bite Size Theory: Between Facts and Norms

“Democratic procedure, which establishes a network of pragmatic considerations, compromises, and discourses of self-understanding and of justice, grounds the presumption that reasonable or fair results are obtained insofar as the flow of relevant information and its proper handling have not been obstructed.”

Jürgen Habermas, 1996, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy, Polity Press.

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Bite Size Theory: The Laws of Hostility

“The Enlightenment, confronted by the evil of politics, goes down in a display of true religious pageantry, showing that morality cannot be conceived without the guarantee of some sort of transcendence.”

Pierre Saint-Armand, 1996, The Laws of Hostility, University of Minnesota Press.

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Bite Size Theory: The New Yorker View

“Gros is a professor of philosophy at a French University – at the finest of French Universities, the University of Paris XII, and also at the great Sciences Po – and if you did not know this already you would not have to read much of this book [A Philosophy of Walking] to guess that it was so. [...] Instead of historical argument supported by evidence, or chronicle illuminated by interpretation, he gives us oracular assertion, supported by more oracular assertion. In this game, it is batting average that counts: if four out of ten of your oracular assertions are arresting oracular assertions, you’re golden.”

Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 1st September 2014.

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Bite Size Theory: Required Writing

“I keep novels and detective stories in my bedroom, so that visitors shan’t be tempted to borrow them; the sitting room houses the higher forms of literature (and my jazz books, a far from exhaustive collection), while the hall I reserve for thoroughly worthy items calculated to speed the parting guest.” Philip Larkin, 1983, Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982, Faber and Faber.

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Bite Size Theory: Light Years

“Acts demolish the alternatives, that is the paradox.”

James Salter, Light Years, 1975, Vintage.

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