Understanding Poststructuralism

Understanding Poststructuralism

Understanding Poststructuralism

Understanding Poststructuralism

Synopsis

Understanding Poststructuralism presents a lucid guide to some of the most exciting and controversial ideas in contemporary thought. This is the first introduction to poststructuralism through its major theorists - Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault, Lyotard, Kristeva - and their central texts. Each chapter takes the reader through a key text, providing detailed summaries of the main points of each and a critical and detailed analysis of their central arguments. Ideas are clearly explained in terms of their value to both critical thinking and to contemporary issues. Criticisms of poststructuralism are also assessed. The aim throughout is to illuminate the main methods of poststructuralism - deconstruction, libidinal economics, genealogy and transcendental empiricism - in context. A balanced and up-to-date assessment of poststructuralism, the book presents the ideal introduction to this most revolutionary of philosophies.

Excerpt

Limits and knowledge

Poststructuralism is the name for a movement in philosophy that began in the 1960s. It remains an influence not only in philosophy, but also in a wider set of subjects, including literature, politics, art, cultural criticisms, history and sociology. This influence is controversial because poststructuralism is often seen as a dissenting position, for example, with respect to the sciences and to established moral values.

The movement is best summed up by its component thinkers. Therefore, this book seeks to esm: first, that it is wilfully and irretrievably difficult; secondly, that it takes on positions that are marginal, inconsistent and impossible to maintain.

The first idea that allows for an answer to these points is that the limits of knowledge play an unavoidable role at its core. This is the common thread running through poststructuralism. It explains why structuralism had to be added to, since the structuralist project can be summed up as arriving at secure knowledge through the charting of differences within structures. According to poststructuralists, this security missed the troubling and productive roles of limits folded back into the structure. Knowledge cannot escape its limits: “It is not surrounded, but traversed by its limit, marked in its inside by the multiple furrows of its margin” (D: 25).

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