Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Determinate Peregrinations

Just wanted to post a pointer to a conversation over at Larval Subjects, where Sinthome has posted a lovely piece titled “Forcing the Event”, which discusses how to conceptualise dramatic historical transformations and revolutionary moments.

Critical theory – to the extent that it attempts to remain within an immanent, non-metaphysical explanatory framework – faces an unusual conceptual challenge: how to explain how social creatures, conceptualised as embedded within their context, can come to be critical of the context in which they are embedded, and can direct these critical sensibilities into conscious political practice that transforms the context itself.

The discussion at Larval Subjects revolves around this issue – talking about limitations in common attempts to understand historical context and causation, and asking whether there might be better ways of conceptualising both, if we want to understand the potential for transformation as some kind of determinate negation, rather than as an essentially random break with history. Although the discussion is motivated by a shared interest in problems related to immanence and critique, many of the issues discussed would also be relevant for those interested in how to conceptualise historical context and causation in a more general sense.

My own contributions – which were probably a bit long for polite posting on someone else’s blog (sorry Sinthome!) – should probably be described as speculative, but I’ve still found the discussion extremely productive, and wanted to place a pointer here, for any readers who might otherwise miss the exchange.

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