Cloth $90.00 ISBN: 9780226135397 Will Publish June 2014
Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226135427 Will Publish June 2014
E-book $30.00 Available for pre-order. ISBN: 9780226135564 Will Publish June 2014

The Birth of Theory

Andrew Cole

Andrew Cole

272 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $90.00 ISBN: 9780226135397 Will Publish June 2014
Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226135427 Will Publish June 2014
E-book $30.00 ISBN: 9780226135564 Will Publish June 2014
Modern theory needs a history lesson. Neither Marx nor Nietzsche first gave us theory—Hegel did. To support this contention, Andrew Cole’s The Birth of Theory presents a refreshingly clear and lively account of the origins and legacy of Hegel’s dialectic as theory. Cole explains how Hegel boldly broke from modern philosophy when he adopted medieval dialectical habits of thought to fashion his own dialectic. While his contemporaries rejected premodern dialectic as outdated dogma, Hegel embraced both its emphasis on language as thought and its fascination with the categories of identity and difference, creating what we now recognize as theory, distinct from systematic philosophy. Not content merely to change philosophy, Hegel also used this dialectic to expose the persistent archaism of modern life itself, Cole shows, establishing a method of social analysis that has influenced everyone from Marx and the nineteenth-century Hegelians, to Nietzsche and Bakhtin, all the way to Deleuze and Jameson.
           
By uncovering these theoretical filiations across time, The Birth of Theory will not only change the way we read Hegel, but also the way we think about the histories of theory. With chapters that powerfully reanimate the overly familiar topics of ideology, commodity fetishism, and political economy, along with a groundbreaking reinterpretation of Hegel’s famous master/slave dialectic, The Birth of Theory places the disciplines of philosophy, literature, and history in conversation with one another in an unprecedented way. Daring to reconcile the sworn enemies of Hegelianism and Deleuzianism, this timely book will revitalize dialectics for the twenty-first century.
Fredric Jameson
“Cole here sheds new light on the dialectic from an unexpected source: medieval thought and the medieval tradition. This is an exciting and groundbreaking work.”
Mladen Dolar
“‘Everybody is Hegelian without knowing it,’ Lacan famously maintained. Cole, in this highly original book, shows not only that this holds for the sworn anti-Hegelians, say Nietzsche and Deleuze, but also that most Hegelians at large are far less aware of what is at stake in dialectics than they can imagine. The aim of the book may seem paradoxical: to restore and rethink the premodern, the medieval and feudal setting of the origins of dialectical thought, yet this is the dialectical move par excellence: to return to the past in order to open up a new future. From Plotinus to Bakhtin, from Nicolas of Cusa to Fredric Jameson, from lord and bondsman to Wal-Mart, this work practices in grand style what dialectical thinking for our times ought to be.”
Michael Hardt
“In this elegant and erudite book, Cole shows us a Hegel looking both backward to medieval philosophy and forward to contemporary theory. The result is a novel, brilliant interpretation of Hegel’s dialectic that makes it once again fresh and powerful today.”
Eduardo Cadava
“Cole’s The Birth of Theory is a daring, ambitious, and fabulously capacious work. The readings of Plotinus, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Deleuze would themselves be enough to recommend this wildly important book, but together they set the record straight once and for all: contemporary theory is born under Hegel’s shadow. But Cole’s Hegel is not the dialectical scapegoat of a Nietzsche or a Deleuze; he is the Hegel who returns to the medieval period and, in particular, to the medieval dialectic in order to establish the play between identity and difference that has defined theory from its beginnings, even in its Nietzschean and Deleuzian versions. In truly Hegelian fashion, Cole mobilizes the force and joy of his philosophical intelligence—as only a theoretically inflected medievalist could—in the direction of the most persuasive account we now have of theory’s origins. Brilliantly argued and beautifully written, this book shows us not only how theory was born but also why it is still very much alive and, in Cole’s hands, why it has such a compelling future.”
Contents

Preface: Very Like a Whale

Acknowledgments

Part I: Theory
Chapter 1: The Untimely Dialectic
Chapter 2: The Medieval Dialectic

Part II: History
Chapter 3: The Lord and the Bondsman
Chapter 4: The Eucharist and the Commodity

Part III: Literature
Chapter 5: Fürstenspiegel, Political Economy, Critique
Chapter 6: On Dialectical Interpretation

Notes
Index

For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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