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Hardcover | $40.00 Short | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780262083300 | 288 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | February 2004
Paperback | $21.00 Short | £14.95 | ISBN: 9780262582636 | 288 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | August 2005

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Critical Resistance

From Poststructuralism to Post-Critique


This book serves as both an introduction to the concept of resistance in poststructuralist thought and an original contribution to the continuing philosophical discussion of this topic. How can a body of thought that mistrusts universal principles explain the possibility of critical resistance? Without appeals to abstract norms, how can emancipatory resistance be distinguished from domination? Can there be a poststructuralist ethics? David Hoy explores these crucial questions through lucid readings of Nietzsche, Foucault, Bourdieu, Derrida, and others. He traces the genealogy of resistance from Nietzsche's break with the Cartesian concept of consciousness to Foucault's and Bourdieu's theories of how subjects are formed through embodied social practices. He also considers Levinas, Heidegger, and Derrida on the sources of ethical resistance. Finally, in light of current social theory from Judith Butler to Slavoj Zizek, he challenges "poststructuralism" as a category and suggests the term "post-critique" as a more accurate description of contemporary Continental philosophy.

Hoy is a leading American scholar of poststructuralism. Critical Resistance is the only book in English that deals substantively with the topical concept of resistance in relation to poststructuralist thought, discussions of which have dominated Continental social thought for many years.

About the Author

David Couzens Hoy is Distinguished Professor of Philosphy Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of Critical Resistance: From Poststructuralism to Post-Critique (MIT Press, 2004).


"Hoy's penetrating and multifaceted account of theories of resistance in post-Nietzschean French philosophy is without equal. His analyses of genealogical and deconstructionist modes of critique and his elaboration of the notion of 'critical resistance' consistently evince the mastery we have come to expect from him. There is no better guide through the thickets of poststructualism and its aftermath."
—Thomas McCarthy, Northwestern University

"Critical Resistance offers fresh consideration of persistently vexing questions posed by poststructuralist philosophy: How is it possible to do away with grounded norms and universal principles and at the same time offer a compelling theoretical critique of the existing order of things? How can thinking practices that call all normativity into question also generate possibilities for resistance to perceived domination or injustice? Indeed, how can such practices perceive domination or injustice at all? This is a book to learn from, to teach, and to admire."
—Wendy Brown, University of California, Berkele

"In his new book David Hoy gives us an accomplished and compelling account of poststructural and post-critical thought by asking how it can account for the possibility of critical resistance to moral and social ills when it denies universal normative principles. Drawing on thinkers from Nietzsche to Zizek, Hoy calls for a 'deconstructive genealogy' that recognizes both the attractions and the limits of moral pluralism. This book is a scholarly achievement and a valuable addition to Anglo-American discussions of the continental European tradition in philosophy. And its emphasis on the body's powers of resistance also make it an intensely personal search for philosophical meaning."
—Hans Sluga, Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley