New Release Books by Simon Critchley

Simon Critchley is the author of Bald (2021), On Heidegger's Being and Time (2020), Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us (2019), What We Think About When We Think About Football (2017) and other 74 books.

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Bald

release date: Apr 27, 2021
Bald
A new and expansive collection of essays from one of the world's best-known popular philosophers The moderator of the New York Times’ Stone column and the author of numerous books on everything from Greek tragedy to David Bowie, Simon Critchley has been a strong voice in popular philosophy for more than a decade. This volume brings together thirty†‘five essays, originally published in the Times, on a wide range of topics, from the dimensions of Plato’s academy and the mysteries of Eleusis to Philip K. Dick, Mormonism, money, and the joy and pain of Liverpool Football Club fans. In an engaging and jargon†‘free style, Critchley writes with honesty about the state of world as he offers philosophically informed and insightful considerations of happiness, violence, and faith. Stripped of inaccessible academic armatures, these short pieces bring philosophy out of the ivory tower and demonstrate an exciting new way to think in public.

On Heidegger's Being and Time

release date: Jun 30, 2020
On Heidegger's Being and Time
On Heidegger's Being and Time is an outstanding exploration of Heidegger's most important work by two major philosophers. Simon Critchley argues that we must see Being and Time as a radicalization of Husserl's phenomenology, particularly his theories of intentionality, categorial intuition, and the phenomenological concept of the a priori. This leads to a reappraisal and defense of Heidegger's conception of phenomenology. In contrast, Reiner Schürmann urges us to read Heidegger 'backward', arguing that his later work is the key to unravelling Being and Time. Through a close reading of Being and Time Schürmann demonstrates that this work is ultimately aporetic because the notion of Being elaborated in his later work is already at play within it. This is the first time that Schürmann's renowned lectures on Heidegger have been published. The book concludes with Critchley's reinterpretation of the importance of authenticity in Being and Time. Arguing for what he calls an 'originary inauthenticity', Critchley proposes a relational understanding of the key concepts of the second part of Being and Time: death, conscience and temporality.

Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us

release date: Apr 16, 2019
Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us
From the moderator of The New York Times philosophy blog "The Stone," a book that argues that if we want to understand ourselves we have to go back to theater, to the stage of our lives Tragedy presents a world of conflict and troubling emotion, a world where private and public lives collide and collapse. A world where morality is ambiguous and the powerful humiliate and destroy the powerless. A world where justice always seems to be on both sides of a conflict and sugarcoated words serve as cover for clandestine operations of violence. A world rather like our own. The ancient Greeks hold a mirror up to us, in which we see all the desolation and delusion of our lives but also the terrifying beauty and intensity of existence. This is not a time for consolation prizes and the fatuous banalities of the self-help industry and pop philosophy. Tragedy allows us to glimpse, in its harsh and unforgiving glare, the burning core of our aliveness. If we give ourselves the chance to look at tragedy, we might see further and more clearly.

What We Think About When We Think About Football

release date: Nov 02, 2017
What We Think About When We Think About Football
What do we think about when we think about football? Football is about so many things: memory, history, place, social class, gender (especially masculinity, but increasingly femininity too), family identity, tribal identity, national identity, the nature of groups. It is essentially collaborative, even socialist, yet it exists in a sump of greed, corruption, capitalism and autocracy. Philosopher Simon Critchley attempts to make sense of it all, and to establish a system of aesthetics - even poetics - to show what is beautiful in the beautiful game. He explores, too, how the experience of watching football opens a particular dimension in time; how its magic wards off oblivion; how its dramas play out national identity and non-identity; how we spectators, watching football with tragic pensiveness, participate in the play. And of course, as a football fan, he writes about his heroes and villains: about Zidane and Cruyff, Clough and Revie, Shankly and Klopp.

What We Think About When We Think About Soccer

release date: Oct 31, 2017
What We Think About When We Think About Soccer
You play soccer. You watch soccer. You live soccer You breathe soccer. But do you think about soccer? Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, inspiring the absolute devotion of countless fans around the globe. But what is it about soccer that makes it so compelling to watch, discuss, and think about? Is it what it says about class, race, or gender? Is it our national, regional, or tribal identities? Simon Critchley thinks it’s all of these and more. In his new book, he explains what soccer can tell us about each, and how each informs the way we interpret the game, all while building a new system of aesthetics, or even poetics, that we can use to watch the beautiful game. Critchley has made a career out of bringing philosophy to the people through popular subjects, and in What We Think About When We Think About Soccer he uses his considerable philosophical acumen to examine the sport that has captured the hearts and minds of millions.

ABC of Impossibility

release date: Mar 01, 2016
ABC of Impossibility
How does one write an experimental ABC, an impossible theory that would deal with a series of phenomena, concepts, places, sensations, persons, and moods? A para-philosophy? Returning to a once-abandoned project of fragmented thoughts where the author’s voice moves from the serious to the pathetic, to the absurd, to the cynical, Simon Critchley’s ABC of Impossibility finds new life in the form of this small encyclopedic and aphoristic text where the reader bears witness to the slow emergence of an attempt at a poetic ontology. ABC of Impossibility is a unique undertaking that reexamines the poetic site of the fragment as thought. Following a heritage of fragmented, aphoristic thinkers including Pascal, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Pessoa, Critchley revitalizes a para-philosophical thinking that can only be uttered by way of another. As he declares in the opening pages, “In writing this, I promise to tell the truth, but not to be myself.”

Memory Theater

release date: Nov 17, 2015
Memory Theater
From this renowned philosopher comes a debut work of fiction, at once a brilliant précis of the history of philosophy, a semiautobiographical meditation on the absurd relationship between knowledge and memory, and a very funny story A French philosopher dies during a savage summer heat wave. Boxes carrying his unpublished papers mysteriously appear in Simon Critchley’s office. Rooting through them, Critchley discovers a brilliant text on the ancient art of memory and a cache of astrological charts predicting the deaths of various philosophers. Among them is a chart for Critchley himself, laying out in great detail the course of his life and eventual demise. While waiting for his friend’s prediction to come through, Critchley receives the missing, final box, which contains a maquette of Giulio Camillo’s sixteenth-century Venetian memory theater, a space supposed to contain the sum of all knowledge. With nothing left to hope for, Critchley devotes himself to one final project before his death—the building of a structure to house his collective memories and document the remnants of his entire life.

Bowie

release date: Sep 13, 2016
Bowie
What made Bowie special? What made him the cultural icon he is today? And what made millions of people around the world tune into his peculiar wavelength and find exactly what they'd been looking for all along? Simon Critchley's keen-eyed, moving and textured tribute to Bowie paints an essential picture of how he tapped into the zeitgeist - and into our hearts.

Tragedy, the Greeks and Us

release date: Mar 28, 2019
Tragedy, the Greeks and Us
We might think we are through with the past, but the past isn't through with us. Tragedy permits us to come face to face with the things we don't want to know about ourselves, but which still make us who we are. It articulates the conflicts and contradictions that we need to address in order to better understand the world we live in. A work honed from a decade's teaching at the New School, where 'Critchley on Tragedy' is one of the most popular courses, Tragedy, the Greeks and Us is a compelling examination of the history of tragedy. Simon Critchley demolishes our common misconceptions about the poets, dramatists and philosophers of Ancient Greece - then presents these writers to us in an unfamiliar and original light.

The Problem with Levinas

release date: Jul 17, 2015
The Problem with Levinas
Levinas's idea of ethics as a relation of responsibility to the other person has become a highly influential and recognizable position across a wide range of academic and non-academic fields. Simon Critchley's aim in this book is to provide a less familiar, more troubling, and (hopefully) truer account of Levinas's work. A new dramatic method for reading Levinas is proposed, where the fundamental problem of his work is seen as the attempt to escape from the tragedy of Heidegger's philosophy and the way in which that philosophy shaped political events in the last century. Extensive and careful attention is paid to Levinas' fascinating but often overlooked work from the 1930s, where the proximity to Heidegger becomes clearer. Levinas's problem is very simple: how to escape from the tragic fatality of being as described by Heidegger. Levinas's later work is a series of attempts to answer that problem through claims about ethical selfhood and a series of phenomenological experiences, especially erotic relations and the relation to the child. These claims are analyzed in the book through close textual readings. Critchley reveals the problem with Levinas's answer to his own philosophical question and suggests a number of criticisms, particular concerning the question of gender. In the final, speculative part of the book, another answer to Levinas's problem is explored through a reading of the Song of Songs and the lens of mystical love.

On Bowie

release date: Apr 07, 2016
On Bowie
What made Bowie special? What made him the cultural icon he is today? And what made millions of people around the world tune into his peculiar wavelength and find exactly what they'd been looking for all along? These are the questions asked by Simon Critchley in this keen-eyed, moving and textured tribute to Bowie. Each of the two dozen deceptively short chapters looks at Bowie from a new angle, slowly unfolding the enigma that was his artistic life into a celebration of what made him unique. From the author's earliest childhood exposure to the bizarre musical and sexual contours of Ziggy Stardust right through to the supernova glow of Blackstar, and covering everything in between, Critchley traces the development of Bowie's music and lyrics to tell the story of how he tapped into zeitgeist - and into our hearts. Growing up in working-class suburban England, the young Critchley was instantly drawn to this creature from another planet, 'so sexual, so knowing, so strange'. Now a celebrated philosopher who Jonathan Lethem has called 'a figure of quite startling brilliance', Critchley draws on a plethora of cultural and philosophical touchpoints, as well as his own intensely personal response to the music, to paint an essential portrait of Bowie as songwriter, poet, performer and icon.

Stay, Illusion!

release date: Apr 22, 2014
Stay, Illusion!
The figure of Hamlet haunts our culture like the Ghost haunts him. Arguably, no literary work, not even the Bible, is more familiar to us than Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Everyone knows at least six words from the play; often people know many more. Yet the play—Shakespeare’s longest—is more than “passing strange” and becomes deeply unfamiliar when considered closely. Reading Hamlet alongside other writers, philosophers, and psychoanalysts—Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, Freud, Lacan, Nietzsche, Melville, and Joyce—Simon Critchley and Jamieson Webster consider the political context and stakes of Shakespeare’s play, its relation to religion, the movement of desire, and the incapacity to love.

Ethics of Deconstruction

release date: Mar 19, 2014
Ethics of Deconstruction
The first book to argue for the ethical turn in Derrida's work, this new edition contains three new appendixes and a new preface where Critchley reflects upon the origins, motivation and reception of 'The Ethics of Deconstruction'.

Humor

release date: Oct 31, 2013
Humor
Humor is een fascinerend, prachtig geschreven en komisch boek over wat homor ons kan vertellen over onze menselijke natuur. Van de oudheid tot aan de moderne tijd en puttend uit het werk van een breed scala aan auteurs, in het bijzonder Swift, Sterne, Shaftesbury, Bergson, Beckett en Freud, keert Humor het komische binnenstebuiten en onthult ons een smakelijk inzicht in wat we grappig vinden. Humor beantwoordt vragen zoals: "Waarom lijden komieken aan depressies", "Waarom lachen we zo vaak om dieren" en "Wat gebeurt er in racistische en seksistische humor". Humor zal niet alleen de lezers uit een reeks van disciplines zoals filosofie, theologie, literatuurwetenschap, psycholanalyse, geschiedenis en antropologie aanspreken, maar ook zeer tot de verbeelding spreken van een ieder met een gevoel voor humor - ieder van ons dus, hopelijk.

Impossible Objects

release date: Aug 27, 2013
Impossible Objects
Impossible objects are those about which the philosopher, narrowly conceived, can hardly speak: poetry, film, music, humor. Such "objects" do not rely on philosophy for interpretation and understanding; they are already independent practices and sites of sensuous meaning production. As Elvis Costello has said, "writing about music is like dancing about architecture." We don't need literary theory in order to be riveted by the poem, nor a critic's analysis to enjoy a film. How then can philosophy speak about anything outside of itself, namely all of those things which actually matter to us in this world? In Impossible Objects, Simon Critchley - one of the most influential and insightful philosophers writing today - extends his philosophical investigation into non-philosophical territories, including discussions on tragedy, poetry, humor, and music. In a series of engaging and enlightening conversations, Critchley reflects on his early work on the ethics of deconstruction; the recurring themes of mortality and nihilism; his defense of neo-anarchism; and his recent investigation into secular faith, or "a faith of the faithless". Essential reading for artists, academics, and general readers alike, this book explores the relationship between the philosophical world and those complex and fascinating "impossible objects" which give life meaning.

How to Stop Living and Start Worrying

release date: Apr 18, 2013
How to Stop Living and Start Worrying
The question of how to lead a happy and meaningful life has been at the heart of philosophical debate since time immemorial. Today, however, these questions seem to be addressed not by philosophers but self-help gurus, who frantically champion the individual's quest for self-expression and self-realization; the desire to become authentic. Against these new age sophistries, How to Stop Living and Start Worrying tackles the question of 'how to live' by forcing us to explore our troubling relationship with death. For Critchley, philosophy begins with the question of finitude and with his understanding of a key classical theme - that to philosophize is to learn how to die. Learning how to accept both our own and others' mortality as a part of life also raises the question of how to love. Critchley argues that the act of love requires us to give up something of ourselves, to lose control so as to be open to the demands of love. We will never be equal to this demand and so we are brought face to face with our own limitations - one form of which is what Critchley calls our 'originary inauthenticity'. By scrutinizing the very nature of humour, Critchley explores what we need to laugh at ourselves and presents the need to confront the inescapable ridiculousness of life. Reflecting on the work of over 20 years, this book provides a unique, witty and erudite introduction to the thought of Simon Critchley. It includes a revealing biographical conversation with Critchley and a fascinating debate with the critically acclaimed novelist Tom McCarthy about the nature of authenticity. Taken together the conversations give an intimate portrait of one of the most lucid, provocative and engaging philosophers writing today.

Infinitely Demanding

release date: Jan 16, 2013
Infinitely Demanding
The clearest, boldest and most systematic statement of Simon Critchley’s influential views on philosophy, ethics, and politics, Infinitely Demanding identifies a massive political disappointment at the heart of liberal democracy. Arguing that what is called for is an ethics of commitment that can inform a radical politics, Critchley considers the possibility of political subjectivity and action after Marx and Marxism, taking in the work of Kant, Levinas, Badiou and Lacan. Infinitely Demanding culminates in an argument for anarchism as an ethical practice and a remotivating means of political organization.

The Faith of the Faithless

release date: Feb 01, 2012
The Faith of the Faithless
Investigation into the dangerous interdependence of politics and religion. The return to religion has perhaps become the dominant cliché of contemporary theory, which rarely offers anything more than an exaggerated echo of a political reality dominated by religious war. Somehow, the secular age seems to have been replaced by a new era, where political action flows directly from metaphysical conflict. The Faith of the Faithless asks how we might respond. Following Critchley’s Infinitely Demanding, this new book builds on its philosophical and political framework, also venturing into the questions of faith, love, religion and violence. Should we defend a version of secularism and quietly accept the slide into a form of theism—or is there another way? From Rousseau’s politics and religion to the return to St. Paul in Taubes, Agamben and Badiou, via explorations of politics and original sin in the work of Schmitt and John Gray, Critchley examines whether there can be a faith of the faithless, a belief for unbelievers. Expanding on his debate with Slavoj Žižek, Critchley concludes with a meditation on the question of violence, and the limits of non-violence.

On Humour

release date: Aug 26, 2011
On Humour
Does humour make us human, or do the cats and dogs laugh along with us? On Humour is a fascinating, beautifully written and funny book on what humour can tell us about being human. Simon Critchley skilfully probes some of the most perennial but least understood aspects of humour, such as our tendency to laugh at animals and our bodies, why we mock death with comedy and why we think it's funny when people act like machines. He also looks at the darker side of humour, as rife in sexism and racism and argues that it is important for reminding us of people we would rather not be.

The Book Of Dead Philosophers

release date: Aug 04, 2011
The Book Of Dead Philosophers
Starting from the premise that philosophers' deaths have been as interesting as their lives, Simon Critchley looks at the strange circumstances in which some philosophers have died and then confronts the big themes - in this case, what 'a good death' means and how to live with the knowledge of death. The book consists of short entries on various philosophers, cataloguing the manner of their demises and linking this to their central ideas, from the Pre-Socratics to Rousseau, Kant and Nietzsche among many others. The book concludes with Critchley's thoughts on the ideal of the philosophical death as a way of denouncing contemporary delusions and sophistries, what Francis Bacon saw as the Idols of the Tribe, the Den, the Market-Place and the Theatre (incidentally, Bacon died in a particularly cold winter in London in 1626 from a cold contracted after trying to stuff a chicken with snow as an experiment in refrigeration).

Notes on Suicide

release date: Sep 01, 2015
Notes on Suicide
This book is not a suicide note. Ten days after Edouard Leve handed in the manuscript of Suicide to his publisher in 2007, he hanged himself in his apartment. He was 42. Two years after Jean Amery's On Suicide was published in 1976, the author took an overdose of sleeping pills. He was 65. In 1960, some eighteen years after Albert Camus had raised and - so he thought - resolved the question of suicide in The Myth of Sisyphus, he was killed in a car accident. He is alleged to have said that dying in a car crash is the most absurd of all deaths. The absurdity of his death is compounded by the fact he had an unused train ticket in his pocket. He was 46. Let me say at the outset, at the risk of disappointing the reader, that I have no plans to kill myself ... just yet. Nor do I wish to join the chorus of those who proclaim loudly against suicide and claim that the act of taking one's own life is irresponsible and selfish, even shameful and cowardly, that people must stay alive whatever the cost. Suicide, in my view, is neither a legal nor moral offence, and should not be seen as such. My intention here is to simply try to understand the phenomenon, the act itself, what precedes it and what follows. I'd like to consider suicide from the point of view of those who have made the leap, or have come close to it-we might even find that the capacity to take that leap is what picks us out as humans. I want to look at suicide closely, carefully, and perhaps a little coldly, without immediately leaping to judgements or asserting moral principles like the right to life or death. We have to look suicide in the face, long and hard, and see what features, what profile, what inherited character traits and wrinkles emerge. Perhaps what we see when we look closely is our own distorted reflection staring back at us.

Bending Concepts

release date: Sep 01, 2019
Bending Concepts
Art Criticism. An anthology of the Held Essays on Visual Art, published in the Brooklyn Rail from 2011 to 2017. Featuring essays by Walter Benn Michaels, Claire Bishop, Talib Agape Fuegoverde, David Levi Strauss, Simon Critchley, T.J. Demos, Ariella Azoulay, Judith Rodenbeck, Katy Siegel, Martha Schwendener, Alva Noë, Blake Gopnik, David Geers, Alexander Nagel, David Robbins, Siona Wilson, Luis Camnitzer, Michael O'Hare, Alexander Dumbadze, Terry Smith, Alexi Worth, Gaby Collins-Fernandez, Katie Anania, Marika Takanishi Knowles, Sheila Heti, and Karen Archey, with an introduction by editors Jonathan T.D. Neil and Alexander Nagel and a preface by Daniel Belasco, Executive Director of the Al Held Foundation.
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