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Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History (Illuminations: Cultural Formations of the Americas) Paperback – 15 Feb 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press (15 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082295978X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822959786
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 19 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 634,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A provocative book and one that will be of interest to scholars in the field of race AND philosophy.""--Black Cultural Studies"

About the Author

Susan Buck-Morss is Jan Rock Zubrow Professor of Social Sciences, and professor of political philosophy and social theory in the department of government at Cornell University. She is the author of Thinking Past Terror: Islamism and Critical Theory on the Left; Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West; The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project; and The Origin of Negative Dialectics: Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and the Frankfurt Institute.

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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
An important new perspective on Hegel's master-slave dialectic 11 May 2009
By Thomas McDonald - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came to this book having vigorously debated within a Hegel reading group alternate approaches to reading the Phenomenology: either by decoding the abstract language for concrete historical references (with guides such as Kojeve's) or by allowing the language to remain formal and transcendental in character. Unfortunately Hegel's style invites readers inclined to remain in theoretical abstraction to overlook and lazily avoid the investigation of concrete history (which brings philosophy truly to life). Susan Buck-Morss here seems to share my view that Hegel was hedging for metaphysical appeal, while the substantial referents of his terms are a radical array of historical circumstances more numerous than has even been supposed so far.

Buck-Morss puts forth a convincing argument that Hegel's master-slave dialectic was inspired and written not only by consideration of ancient Greek slavery (as is conventionally understood) but also by the contemporary event of the Haitian revolution, which Hegel understood to follow from colonial domination by early Western capitalism. Buck-Morss examines Hegel's critical reading of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations as particularly important for shaping his general critique of modernity in the modern economy's instrumentalizing of people.

One might suspect that this too-conveniently pulls Hegel into Left post-colonial studies, but actually a reading in good faith will prove her right: Hegel studies heretofore (especially by philosophy specialists) have been woefully neglectful of a contemporary historical event - the Haitian revolution - whose significance Hegel couldn't (nor wouldn't) have overlooked as an avid reader of all the news being published and available to him.

Also vital to the book is the author's argument aimed at Left post-colonial studies: that they should reconsider the value of a Universal History for progressive politics. The postmodernist rejection of Universal History has proven, over the last thirty years of conservative rule in the West, to be a great aid to neoconservative forces of division against progressive politics. Thus it is vital for anyone of a progressive persuasion to reconsider the value of a Universal History as argued for here by Buck-Morss.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Execllent scholarly work 14 Oct 2013
By Gary Colmenar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
highly recommended for anyone interested in studying race history and its constructions in western thought and modernity. It is also accessible and engaging.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great insight into the unfamiliar 21 May 2013
By SMVG - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Placed the event into a new light by presenting relevant details and historical context.
Dealt with complex subject matter in a precise but engaging manner.
Quite something.
6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Hegel, Haiti and Buck-Morss 21 May 2010
By Cynthia N. Saxenian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Susan Buck Morss is a hero. She has said some very confrontational and painful-to-hear truths about western imperialism and dynasty and its effects on Haiti and the rest of the world. This is a must read!
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