Reflections on Time and Politics
Penn State University Press, 2008
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Recent philosophical debates have moved beyond proclamations of the "death of philosophy" and the "death of the subject" to consider more positively how philosophy can be practiced and the human self can be conceptualized today. Inspired by the writings of Nietzsche, Bergson, and Deleuze, rapid changes related to globalization, and advances in evolutionary biology and neuroscience, these debates have generated a renewed focus on time as an active force of change and novelty. Rejecting simple linear models of time, these strands of thought have provided creative alternatives to a traditional reliance on fixed boundaries and stable identities that has proven unable to grapple with the intense speeds and complexities of contemporary life.
In this book, Nathan Widder contributes to these debates, but also goes significantly beyond them. Holding that current writings remain too focused on time's movement, he examines more fundamentally time's structure and its structural ungrounding, releasing time completely from its traditional subordination to movement and space. Doing this enables him to reformulate entirely the terms through which time and change are understood, leading to a radical alteration of our understandings of power, resistance, language, and the unconscious, and taking post-identity political philosophy and ethics in a new direction.
Through eighteen independent but interlinked reflections engage with ancient philosophy, mathematical theory, dialectics, psychoanalysis, archaeology, and genealogy. The book's broad coverage and novel rereadings of key figures including Aristotle, Bergson, Nietzsche, Foucault, and Deleuze make this a unique rethinking of the nature of pluralism, multiplicity, and politics.
“Reflections on Time and Politics is a highly innovative book, in both its style and content. Each of its eighteen ‘sequences of thought’ focuses on an aspect of Gilles Deleuze’s theory of time, and explores its implications for political philosophy. The text is extraordinarily wide-ranging, and will draw its readers into an exhilarating and provocative ride through the philosophy of time found in thinkers as diverse as Aristotle, Hegel, and Bergson. This book will establish Widder as one of the most creative and stimulating of contemporary political theorists.”
—Daniel W. Smith, Purdue University
“Nathan Widder’s book will be invaluable to those who see that classic theories of time insufficiently speak to the terms of contemporary politics. The style and organization of the book express the philosophy embraced. The engagements with Aristotle, Bergson, and Deleuze are compelling. And the intercalated explorations of sense, common sense, discontinuity, micropolitics, and ‘syntheses’ of time are superb. An untimely book that is just in time!”
—William E. Connolly, The Johns Hopkins University
Nathan Widder is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London.