Aftereffects of Knowledge in Modernity

Politics, Aesthetics, and Individuality

By Martin Leet

Subjects: Political Theory, Politics, Critical Theory, Political Philosophy, Epistemology, Aesthetics
Paperback : 9780791460108, 174 pages, April 2004
Hardcover : 9780791460092, 174 pages, April 2004

Table of contents


Introduction: What Is the Value of Knowledge?


Two Stories About the Aftereffects of Knowledge
Knowledge, Aesthetics, and Individuality
Politics and Individuality
The Chapters That Follow



1. Recovering the Individual in Critical Theory


Back to Basics? Pleasure and Pain
Weakening the Link Between Theory and Practice
Reconnecting Theory with Practice: The "Causality of Fate"
Communicative Versus Subject-Centered Reason


2. Individuality Amid Social Progress


The Politics of Suffering
Habermas's Reconstruction of Progressive Ideals
Modernity and the Adolescent Crisis
Rethinking Progress


3. Dogmatic Retreats and Skeptical Adventures


The Dangers of Dialectic
Dogmatic Retreats: Habermas and Butler
Skeptical Adventures: Nietzsche and the Ancient Skeptics



4. Habermas's Democratic Proceduralism


Procedural Compensations for Weak Individuality
The Limits of Proceduralism
Expectations of Individuals in Radical Democracy


5. Democracy and Individuality: Kateb and Connolly


Democracy and the Existential Dimension
Kateb and Emerson: Tensions Between the Moral and the Aesthetic
Connolly and Nietzsche: Can Arts of the Self Be Political?


6. Spaces for Individuality


Adding to the Pressures Against Individuality
Individuality Without the Constraints of Intersubjectivity
Individuality and Participation in Politics
Politics Without Meaning and Individuality as Citizenship




Examines the relations among knowledge, politics, aesthetics, and individuality.


The relentless accumulation of knowledge is a defining feature of modern life, but what if this feature begins to breed more confusion than enlightenment? Martin Leet examines how the often ambiguous and sometimes destabilizing aftereffects of knowledge have prompted a renewed interest in aesthetics and individuality in parts of contemporary political theory. He contends that this renewal is necessary and desirable, making his case through a multi-faceted critique of Ju¬rgen Habermas. He also engages a wide range of thinkers and traditions, including Nietzsche, Emerson, Weber, the ancient Greeks, and the more recent contributions of Judith Butler, William Connolly, and George Kateb. By focusing on debates about democracy and citizenship, Leet develops a distinctive understanding of the relations between politics, aesthetics, and individuality.

Martin Leet is Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Queensland.


"Leet treats the increasingly important topic of the aesthetic in a complex and interesting way by applying it to the question of individuality. Moreover, his tying individuality to developments in the evolution of knowledge is creative, original, and controversial." — Morton Schoolman, author of Reason and Horror: Critical Theory, Democracy, and Aesthetic Individuality