This article offers a critical assessment of the conception of ethics underlying the growing constellation of ‘new materialist’ social theories. It argues that such theories offer little if any purchase in understanding the contemporary transformations of relations between mind and body or human and non-human natures. Taking as exemplary the work of Jane Bennett, Rosi Braidotti, and Karen Barad, this article asserts that a continuity between ethics and ontology is central to recent theories of ‘materiality’. These theories assert the primacy of matter by calling upon a spiritual or ascetic self-transformation so that one might be ‘attuned to’ or ‘register’ materiality and, conversely, portray critique as hubristic, conceited, or resentful, blinded by its anthropocentrism. It is argued that framing the grounds for ontological speculation in these ethical terms licences the omission of analysis of social forces mediating thought’s access to the world and so grants the theorist leave to sidestep any questions over the conditions of thought. In particular, the essay points to ongoing processes of the so-called primitive accumulation as constituting the relationship between mind and body, human and non-human natures.
- Professor Simon Goldsworthy contributes guest blog to Higher Education Policy Institute websiteMay 15, 2017 - 9:48 am
- Richmond Hosts a successful first ‘Update TV Skills’ Symposium (22th April 2017)May 15, 2017 - 9:11 am
- Richmond ALUM and Professor of the summer British Fantasy class shortlisted for major new literary awardMay 5, 2017 - 11:16 am
- Undergraduate Open Day – 9th June 2017May 17, 2017 - 3:26 pm
- CSPI Brexit/General Election event on evening of 25 MayMay 15, 2017 - 9:22 am
- The Wellbeing Research Centre’s round-table discussion on the environment takes place on June 16th 2017May 12, 2017 - 2:24 pm
- Art, Design & Media Senior Projects Exhibition Opening April 20thApril 6, 2017 - 2:11 pm