The Philosopher and His Poor
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The Philosopher and His Poor

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What has philosophy to do with the poor? If, as has often been supposed, the poor have no time for philosophy, then why have philosophers always made time for them? Why is the history of philosophy--from Plato to Karl Marx to Jean Paul Sartre to Pierre Bourdieu--the history of so many figures of the poor: plebes, men of iron, the demos, artisans, common people, proletarians, the masses? Why have philosophers made the shoemaker, in particular, a remarkably ubiquitous presence in this history? Does philosophy itself depend on this thinking about the poor? If so, can it ever refrain from thinking for them? Jacques Ranciere's The Philosopher and His Poor meditates on these questions in close readings of major texts of Western thought in which the poor have played a leading role--sometimes as the objects of philosophical analysis, sometimes as illustrations of philosophical argument. Published in France in 1983 and made available here for the first time in English, this consummate study assesses the consequences for Marx, Sartre, and Bourdieu of Plato's admonition that workers should do "nothing else" than their own work. It offers innovative readings of these thinkers' struggles to elaborate a philosophy of the poor. Presenting a left critique of Bourdieu, the terms of which are largely unknown to an English-language readership, The Philosopher and His Poor remains remarkably timely twenty years after its initial publication.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 280 pages
  • 142.24 x 233.68 x 17.78mm | 90.72g
  • Duke University Press
  • North Carolina, United States
  • English, French
  • 0822332744
  • 9780822332749
  • 157,887

Back cover copy

""The Philosopher and His Poor "is a remarkable work. Jacques Ranciere demonstrates the recurrence throughout the history of western thought of a particular self-constituting move: the freedom and the right to think are premised upon a situating and excluding of those whose task is other than to think, what Ranciere calls 'the poor.'"--Derek Attridge, author of "The Singularity of Literature"

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Review quote

"Sure to provoke controversy, The Philosopher and His Poor is a virtuoso performance. I can't think of anyone who has pursued the populist premise - the intuition that in this or that situation the grounding of truth or value is to be located in those most dispossessed - with anything approaching Ranciere's degree of articulateness or philosophical sophistication. I predict that this book will become a landmark." Bruce Robbins, author of Feeling Global: Internationalism in Distress "The Philosopher and His Poor is a remarkable work. Jacques Ranciere demonstrates the recurrence throughout the history of western thought of a particular self-constituting move: the freedom and the right to think are premised upon a situating and excluding of those whose task is other than to think, what Ranciere calls 'the poor.'" Derek Attridge, author of The Singularity of Literature

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About Jacques Ranciere

Jacques Ranciere is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris-VIII (St. Denis). His many books include "The Nights of Labor: The Workers' Dream in Nineteenth-Century France";" The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation";""and "Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy."Andrew Parker is Professor of English at Amherst College. He is a coeditor of "Nationalisms and Sexualities "and "Performativity and Performance."Jacques Ranciere is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris-VIII (St. Denis). His many books include "The Nights of Labor: The Workers' Dream in Nineteenth-Century France";" The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation";""and "Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy."Andrew Parker is Professor of English at Amherst College. He is a coeditor of "Nationalisms and Sexualities "and "Performativity and Performance."

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Table of contents

Plato's lie The order of the city; The order of discourse Marx's labor The shoemaker and the knight; The production of the proletarian; The revolution conjured away; The risk of art The philosopher and the sociologist The Marxist horizon; The philosopher's wall; The sociologist king

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