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Adrian Johnston - Author

About the Author

Books by Adrian Johnston

Subject Lessons

Subject Lessons

Author: Adrian Johnston, Kathryn Van Wert Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/2020

Responding to the ongoing objectal turn throughout contemporary humanities and social sciences, the eleven essays in Subject Lessons present a sustained case for the continued importance-indeed, the indispensability-of the category of the subject for the future of materialist thought. Various neovitalist materialisms and realisms currently en vogue across a number of academic disciplines (from New Materialism and actor-network theory to speculative realism and object-oriented ontology) advocate a flat, horizontal ontology that renders the subject just another object amid a democracy of objects. By contrast, the dialectical materialism presented throughout Subject Lessons maintains that subjectivity is crucial to grasping matter's vibrancy and continual becoming in the first place. Approaching matters through the frame of Hegel and Lacan, the contributors to this volume-many of whom stand at the forefront of contemporary Hegel and Lacan scholarship-agree with neovitalist thinkers that material reality is ontologically incomplete, in a state of perpetual becoming, yet they do so with one crucial difference: they maintain that this is the case not in spite of but rather because of the subject. Incorporating elements of philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literary and cultural studies, Subject Lessons contests the movement to dismiss the subject, arguing that there can be no truly robust materialism without accounting for the little piece of the Real that is the subject.

Zizek's Ontology

Zizek's Ontology

Author: Adrian Johnston Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/09/2020

Slavoj Zizek is one of the most interesting and important philosophers working today, known chiefly for his theoretical explorations of popular culture and contemporary politics. This book focuses on the generally neglected and often overshadowed philosophical core of Zizek's work - an essential component in any true appreciation of this unique thinker's accomplishment.His central concern, Zizek has proclaimed, is to use psychoanalysis (especially the teachings of Jacques Lacan) to redeploy the insights of late-modern German philosophy, in particular, the thought of Kant, Schelling, and Hegel. By taking this avowal seriously, Adrian Johnston finally clarifies the philosophical project underlying Zizek's efforts. His book charts the interlinked ontology and theory of subjectivity constructed by Zizek at the intersection of German idealism and Lacanian theory. Johnston also uses Zizek's combination of philosophy and psychoanalysis to address two perennial philosophical problems: the relationship of mind and body, and the nature of human freedom.By bringing together the past two centuries of European philosophy, psychoanalytic metapsychology, and cutting-edge work in the natural sciences, Johnston develops a transcendental materialist theory of subjectivity - in short, an account of how more-than-material forms of subjectivity can emerge from a corporeal being. His work shows how an engagement with Zizek's philosophy can produce compelling answers to today's most vexing and urgent questions as inherited from the history of ideas.

Subject Lessons

Subject Lessons

Author: Adrian Johnston, Kathryn Van Wert Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/01/2020

Responding to the ongoing objectal turn throughout contemporary humanities and social sciences, the eleven essays in Subject Lessons present a sustained case for the continued importance-indeed, the indispensability-of the category of the subject for the future of materialist thought. Various neovitalist materialisms and realisms currently en vogue across a number of academic disciplines (from New Materialism and actor-network theory to speculative realism and object-oriented ontology) advocate a flat, horizontal ontology that renders the subject just another object amid a democracy of objects. By contrast, the dialectical materialism presented throughout Subject Lessons maintains that subjectivity is crucial to grasping matter's vibrancy and continual becoming in the first place. Approaching matters through the frame of Hegel and Lacan, the contributors to this volume-many of whom stand at the forefront of contemporary Hegel and Lacan scholarship-agree with neovitalist thinkers that material reality is ontologically incomplete, in a state of perpetual becoming, yet they do so with one crucial difference: they maintain that this is the case not in spite of but rather because of the subject. Incorporating elements of philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literary and cultural studies, Subject Lessons contests the movement to dismiss the subject, arguing that there can be no truly robust materialism without accounting for the little piece of the Real that is the subject.

Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism

Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism

Author: Adrian Johnston Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/11/2019

Adrian Johnston's trilogy Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism aims to forge a thoroughly materialist yet antireductive theory of subjectivity. In this second volume, A Weak Nature Alone, Johnston focuses on the philosophy of nature required for such a theory. This volume is guided by a fundamental question: How must nature be rethought so that human minds and freedom do not appear to be either impossible or inexplicable within it? Asked differently: How must the natural world itself be structured such that sapient subjects in all their distinctive peculiarities emerged from and continue to exist within this world? In A Weak Nature Alone, Johnston develops his transcendental materialist account of nature through engaging with and weaving together five main sources of inspiration: Hegelian philosophy, Marxist materialism, Freudian-Lacanian metapsychology, Anglo-American analytic neo-Hegelianism, and evolutionary theory and neurobiology. Johnston argues that these seemingly (but not really) strange bedfellows should be brought together so as to construct a contemporary ontology of nature. Through this ontology, nonnatural human subjects can be seen to arise in an immanent, bottom-up fashion from nature itself.

A New German Idealism

A New German Idealism

Author: Adrian Johnston Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/08/2019

In 2012, philosopher and public intellectual Slavoj Zizek published what arguably is his magnum opus, the one-thousand-page tome Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism. A sizable sequel appeared in 2014, Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism. In these two books, Zizek returns to the German idealist G. W. F. Hegel in order to forge a new materialism for the twenty-first century. Zizek's reinvention of Hegelian dialectics explores perennial and contemporary concerns: humanity's relations with nature, the place of human freedom, the limits of rationality, the roles of spirituality and religion, and the prospects for radical sociopolitical change. In A New German Idealism, Adrian Johnston offers a first-of-its-kind sustained critical response to Less Than Nothing and Absolute Recoil. Johnston, a leading authority on and interlocutor of Zizek, assesses the recent return to Hegel against the backdrop of Kantian and post-Kantian German idealism. He also presents alternate reconstructions of Hegel's positions that differ in important respects from Zizek's version of dialectical materialism. In particular, Johnston criticizes Zizek's deviations from the secular naturalism and Enlightenment optimism of his chosen sources of inspiration: not only Hegel, but Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud too. In response, Johnston develops what he calls transcendental materialism, an antireductive and leftist materialism capable of preserving and advancing the core legacies of the Hegelian, Marxian, and Freudian traditions central to Zizek.

Irrepressible Truth

Irrepressible Truth

Author: Adrian Johnston Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/08/2018

This book offers readers a uniquely detailed engagement with the ideas of legendary French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. The Freudian Thing is one of Lacan's most important texts, wherein he explains the significance and stakes of his return to Freud as a passionate defence of Freud's disturbing, epoch-making discovery of the unconscious, against misrepresentations and criticisms of it. However, Lacan is characteristically cryptic in The Freudian Thing. The combination of his writing style and vast range of references renders much of his thinking inaccessible to all but a narrow circle of scholarly specialists. Johnston's Irrepressible Truth opens up the universe of Lacanian psychoanalysis to much wider audiences by furnishing a sentence-by-sentence interpretive unpacking of this pivotal 1955 essay. In so doing, Johnston reveals the precision, rigor, and soundness of Lacan's teachings.

New German Idealism

New German Idealism

Author: Adrian Johnston Format: eBook Release Date: 01/05/2018

In 2012, philosopher and public intellectual Slavoj Zizek published what arguably is his magnum opus, the one-thousand-page tome Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism. A sizable sequel appeared in 2014, Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism. In these two books, Zizek returns to the German idealist G. W. F. Hegel in order to forge a new materialism for the twenty-first century. Zizek's reinvention of Hegelian dialectics explores perennial and contemporary concerns: humanity's relations with nature, the place of human freedom, the limits of rationality, the roles of spirituality and religion, and the prospects for radical sociopolitical change.In A New German Idealism, Adrian Johnston offers a first-of-its-kind sustained critical response to Less Than Nothing and Absolute Recoil. Johnston, a leading authority on and interlocutor of Zizek, assesses the recent return to Hegel against the backdrop of Kantian and post-Kantian German idealism. He also presents alternate reconstructions of Hegel's positions that differ in important respects from Zizek's version of dialectical materialism. In particular, Johnston criticizes Zizek's deviations from the secular naturalism and Enlightenment optimism of his chosen sources of inspiration: not only Hegel, but Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud too. In response, Johnston develops what he calls transcendental materialism, an antireductive and leftist materialism capable of preserving and advancing the core legacies of the Hegelian, Marxian, and Freudian traditions central to Zizek.

Irrepressible Truth

Irrepressible Truth

Author: Adrian Johnston Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/07/2017

This book offers readers a uniquely detailed engagement with the ideas of legendary French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. The Freudian Thing is one of Lacan's most important texts, wherein he explains the significance and stakes of his return to Freud as a passionate defence of Freud's disturbing, epoch-making discovery of the unconscious, against misrepresentations and criticisms of it. However, Lacan is characteristically cryptic in The Freudian Thing. The combination of his writing style and vast range of references renders much of his thinking inaccessible to all but a narrow circle of scholarly specialists. Johnston's Irrepressible Truth opens up the universe of Lacanian psychoanalysis to much wider audiences by furnishing a sentence-by-sentence interpretive unpacking of this pivotal 1955 essay. In so doing, Johnston reveals the precision, rigor, and soundness of Lacan's teachings.

Adventures in Transcendental Materialism

Adventures in Transcendental Materialism

Author: Adrian Johnston Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 17/03/2014

This book deals with a new materialist theory of subjectivity mobilising philosophy, psychoanalysis, politics and science. Armed with resources provided by German idealism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, the life sciences and contemporary philosophy, Johnston formulates an account of subjectivity that is both materialist and naturalist, and does full justice to human beings as irreducible to natural matter alone. At the same time, he argues against relapses into idealisms, dualisms and spiritualisms. It critically engages with some of today's most important thinkers, including Slavoj Zizek, Alain Badiou, Catherine Malabou, Jean-Claude Milner, Martin Hagglund, William Connolly and Jane Bennett. It is split into three parts: Zizek: Dossier of an Ongoing Debate; Psychoanalysis: The Unconscious between Philosophy, Science and Religion; and, Politics: True and False Utopias. It combines Continental-style philosophy with science.

Adventures in Transcendental Materialism

Adventures in Transcendental Materialism

Author: Adrian Johnston Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/03/2014

Since Bacon, Gallileo and Descartes in the early 17th century, the relations between science and religion as well as mind and body have remained volatile fault lines of conflict. The controversies surrounding these relations are as alive and pressing now as at any point over the course of the past four centuries. Adrian Johnston's transcendental materialism offers a new theoretical approach to these issues. Arming himself with resources provided by German idealism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, the life sciences and contemporary philosophical developments, Johnston formulates an account of subjectivity that, although being both materialist and naturalist, does full justice to human beings as irreducible to natural matter alone. At the same time he argues against relapses into idealisms, dualisms and spiritualisms. Adventures in Transcendental Materialism elaborates Johnston's position through critical engagements with some of today's most important thinkers including Slavoj Zizek, Alain Badiou, Catherine Malabou, Jean-Claude Milner, Martin H gglund, William Connolly, and Jane Bennett.

Self and Emotional Life

Self and Emotional Life

Author: Adrian Johnston, Catherine Malabou Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/06/2013

Adrian Johnston and Catherine Malabou defy theoretical humanities' deeply-entrenched resistance to engagements with the life sciences. Rather than treat biology and its branches as hopelessly reductive and politically suspect, they view recent advances in neurobiology and its adjacent scientific fields as providing crucial catalysts to a radical rethinking of subjectivity. Merging three distinct disciplines-European philosophy from Descartes to the present, Freudian-Lacanian psychoanalysis, and affective neuroscience-Johnston and Malabou triangulate the emotional life of affective subjects as conceptualized in philosophy and psychoanalysis with neuroscience. Their experiments yield different outcomes. Johnston finds psychoanalysis and neurobiology have the potential to enrich each other, though affective neuroscience demands a reconsideration of whether affects can be unconscious. Investigating this vexed issue has profound implications for theoretical and practical analysis, as well as philosophical understandings of the emotions. Malabou believes scientific explorations of the brain seriously problematize established notions of affective subjectivity in Continental philosophy and Freudian-Lacanian analysis. She confronts philosophy and psychoanalysis with something neither field has seriously considered: the concept of wonder and the cold, disturbing visage of those who have been affected by disease or injury, such that they are no longer affected emotionally. At stake in this exchange are some of philosophy's most important claims concerning the relationship between the subjective mind and the objective body, the structures and dynamics of the unconscious dimensions of mental life, the role emotion plays in making us human, and the functional differences between philosophy and science.

Self and Emotional Life

Self and Emotional Life

Author: Adrian Johnston, Catherine Malabou Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/06/2013

Adrian Johnston and Catherine Malabou defy theoretical humanities' deeply-entrenched resistance to engagements with the life sciences. Rather than treat biology and its branches as hopelessly reductive and politically suspect, they view recent advances in neurobiology and its adjacent scientific fields as providing crucial catalysts to a radical rethinking of subjectivity. Merging three distinct disciplines-European philosophy from Descartes to the present, Freudian-Lacanian psychoanalysis, and affective neuroscience-Johnston and Malabou triangulate the emotional life of affective subjects as conceptualized in philosophy and psychoanalysis with neuroscience. Their experiments yield different outcomes. Johnston finds psychoanalysis and neurobiology have the potential to enrich each other, though affective neuroscience demands a reconsideration of whether affects can be unconscious. Investigating this vexed issue has profound implications for theoretical and practical analysis, as well as philosophical understandings of the emotions. Malabou believes scientific explorations of the brain seriously problematize established notions of affective subjectivity in Continental philosophy and Freudian-Lacanian analysis. She confronts philosophy and psychoanalysis with something neither field has seriously considered: the concept of wonder and the cold, disturbing visage of those who have been affected by disease or injury, such that they are no longer affected emotionally. At stake in this exchange are some of philosophy's most important claims concerning the relationship between the subjective mind and the objective body, the structures and dynamics of the unconscious dimensions of mental life, the role emotion plays in making us human, and the functional differences between philosophy and science.

Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism

Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism

Author: Adrian Johnston Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 15/07/2012

Adrian Johnston's Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism, planned for three volumes, will lay the foundations for a new materialist theoretical apparatus, his transcendental materialism. In this first volume, Johnston clears an opening within contemporary philosophy and theory for his unique position. He engages closely with Lacan, Badiou, and Meillassoux, demonstrating how each of these philosophers can be seen as failing to forge an authentically atheistic materialism. Johnston builds a new materialism both profoundly influenced by these brilliant comrades of a shared cause as well as making up for the shortcomings of their own creative attempts to bring to realization the Lacanian vision of an Other-less, One-less ontology. The Outcome of Contemporary French Philosophy yields intellectual weapons suitable for deployment on multiple fronts simultaneously, effective against the mutually entangled spiritualist and scientistic foes of our post-Enlightenment, biopolitical era of nothing more than commodities and currencies.

Badiou, Zizek, and Political Transformations

Badiou, Zizek, and Political Transformations

Author: Adrian Johnston Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/11/2009

Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek together have emerged as two of Europe's most significant living philosophers. In a shared spirit of resistance to global capitalism, both are committed to bringing philosophical reflection to bear upon present-day political circumstances. These thinkers are especially interested in asking what consequences the supposed twentieth-century demise of communism entails for leftist political theory in the early twenty-first century. Badiou, Zizek, and Political Transformations examines Badiouian and Zizekian depictions of change, particularly as deployed at the intersection of philosophy and politics. The book details the origins of Badiou's concept of the event and Zizek's concept of the act as related theoretical visions of revolutionary happenings, delineating a number of difficulties arising from these similar concepts. Johnston finds that Badiou and Zizek tend to favor models of transformation that risk discouraging in advance precisely the efforts at changing the world of today that these uncompromising leftists so ardently desire. Badiou, Zizek, and Political Transformations will surely join Johnston's Zizek's Ontology as an instant classic in its field.

Badiou, Zizek, and Political Transformations

Badiou, Zizek, and Political Transformations

Author: Adrian Johnston Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 22/10/2009

Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek together have emerged as two of Europe's most significant living philosophers. In a shared spirit of resistance to global capitalism, both are committed to bringing philosophical reflection to bear upon present-day political circumstances. These thinkers are especially interested in asking what consequences the supposed twentieth-century demise of communism entails for leftist political theory in the early twenty-first century. Badiou, Zizek, and Political Transformations examines Badiouian and Zizekian depictions of change, particularly as deployed at the intersection of philosophy and politics. The book details the origins of Badiou's concept of the event and Zizek's concept of the act as related theoretical visions of revolutionary happenings, delineating a number of difficulties arising from these similar concepts. Johnston finds that Badiou and Zizek tend to favor models of transformation that risk discouraging in advance precisely the efforts at changing the world of today that these uncompromising leftists so ardently desire. Badiou, Zizek, and Political Transformations will surely join Johnston's Zizek's Ontology as an instant classic in its field.

Zizek's Ontology

Zizek's Ontology

Author: Adrian Johnston Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 15/05/2008

Slavoj Zizek is one of the most interesting and important philosophers working today, known chiefly for his theoretical explorations of popular culture and contemporary politics. This book focuses on the generally neglected and often overshadowed philosophical core of Zizek's work - an essential component in any true appreciation of this unique thinker's accomplishment. His central concern, Zizek has proclaimed, is to use psychoanalysis (especially the teachings of Jacques Lacan) to redeploy the insights of late-modern German philosophy, in particular, the thought of Kant, Schelling, and Hegel. By taking this avowal seriously, Adrian Johnston finally clarifies the philosophical project underlying Zizek's efforts. His book charts the interlinked ontology and theory of subjectivity constructed by Zizek at the intersection of German idealism and Lacanian theory. Johnston also uses Zizek's combination of philosophy and psychoanalysis to address two perennial philosophical problems: the relationship of mind and body, and the nature of human freedom.By bringing together the past two centuries of European philosophy, psychoanalytic metapsychology, and cutting-edge work in the natural sciences, Johnston develops a transcendental materialist theory of subjectivity - in short, an account of how more-than-material forms of subjectivity can emerge from a corporeal being. His work shows how an engagement with Zizek's philosophy can produce compelling answers to today's most vexing and urgent questions as inherited from the history of ideas.