The Highway of Despair: Critical Theory After Hegel

Hardcover | March 24, 2015

byRobyn Marasco

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Hegel's "highway of despair," introduced in his Phenomenology of Spirit, represents the tortured path traveled by "natural consciousness" on its way to freedom. Despair, the passionate residue of Hegelian critique, also indicates fugitive opportunities for freedom and preserves the principle of hope against all hope. Analyzing the works of an eclectic cast of thinkers, Robyn Marasco considers the dynamism of despair as a critical passion, reckoning with the forms of historical life forged along Hegel's highway.

The Highway of Despair follows Theodor Adorno, Georges Bataille, and Frantz Fanon as they each read, resist, and reconfigure a strand of thought in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. Confronting the twentieth-century collapse of a certain revolutionary dialectic, these thinkers struggle to revalue critical philosophy and recast Left Hegelianism within the contexts of genocidal racism, world war, and colonial domination. Each thinker also re-centers the role of passion in critique. Arguing against more recent trends in critical theory that promise an escape from despair, Marasco shows how passion frustrates the resolutions of reason and faith. Embracing the extremism of what Marx, in the spirit of Hegel, called the "ruthless critique of everything existing," she affirms the contemporary purchase of radical critical theory, resulting in a passionate approach to political thought.

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Hegel's "highway of despair," introduced in his Phenomenology of Spirit, represents the tortured path traveled by "natural consciousness" on its way to freedom. Despair, the passionate residue of Hegelian critique, also indicates fugitive opportunities for freedom and preserves the principle of hope against all hope. Analyzing the wor...

Robyn Marasco is assistant professor of political science at Hunter College. Her areas of specialization include critical theory, feminist theory, and the modern history of political thought. Her articles have appeared in Contemporary Political Theory, differences, Philosophy and Social Criticism, and Theory and Event.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:March 24, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231168667

ISBN - 13:9780231168663

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroductionPart 1. Dialectics and Despair1. Hegel, the Wound2. Kierkegaard's DiagnosticsPart 2. Dialectical Remains3. Theodor W. Adorno: Aporetics4. Georges Bataille: Aleatory Dialectics5. Frantz Fanon: Critique, with KnivesConcluding PostscriptNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

An engaging read.... Marasco's work will undoubtedly reinvigorate the dialectical imagination and should be read by anyone with an interest in the future of critical theory.