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A World of Becoming (John Hope Franklin Center Book)by William E. Connolly
Synopses & Reviews
In A World of Becoming William E. Connolly outlines a political philosophy suited to a world whose powers of creative evolution include and exceed the human estate. This is a world composed of multiple interacting systems, including those of climate change, biological evolution, economic practices, and geological formations. Such open systems, set on different temporal registers of stability and instability, periodically resonate together to produce profound, unpredictable changes. To engage such a world reflectively is to feel pressure to alter established practices of politics, ethics, and spirituality. In pursuing such a course, Connolly draws inspiration from philosophers such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Alfred North Whitehead, and Gilles Deleuze, as well as the complexity theorist of biology Stuart Kauffman and the theologian Catherine Keller.
Attunement to a world of becoming, Connolly argues, may help us address dangerous resonances between global finance capital, cross-regional religious resentments, neoconservative ideology, and the 24-hour mass media. Coming to terms with subliminal changes in the contemporary experience of time that challenge traditional images can help us grasp how these movements have arisen and perhaps even inspire creative counter-movements. The book closes with the chapter “The Theorist and the Seer,” in which Connolly draws insights from early Greek ideas of the Seer and a Jerry Lewis film, The Nutty Professor, to inform the theory enterprise today.
Considers how non-linear notions of causality and time--where multiple, interacting, and partially open systems coexist--could transform the way we imagine political action.
The prominent political theorist William E. Connolly outlines a political philosophy for the contemporary world: a world whose powers of creative evolution include and exceed the human estate.
About the Author
“A World of Becoming continues William E. Connolly’s project of a ‘positive’ pluralism: one unafraid of the ‘messy fecundities’ of a complex world tense with unresolved tendencies yet effervescent with emergent potential. Against the politics of resentment so dominant today, he argues for an ethos of radical ‘interinvolvement’ affirmative of becoming, with all its promise and all its loose ends. To counter the otherworldly lure of final transcendent solutions in which the politics of resentment too often takes refuge, he proposes the meeting ground of a non-doctrinal faith that amplifies attachment to this world as a work-in-progress and collective adventure. Written in flowingly accessible prose that sacrifices nothing of the complexity it charts, and as passionate as it is conceptually precise, A World of Becoming is a political and philosophical statement of foremost importance for our times.”—Brian Massumi, author of Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation
“A World of Becoming is a deeply original and timely book drawing together a series of ideas, discoveries, and concepts from a wide range of fields into a coherent image of a new way of responding to what William E. Connolly understands as the human predicament. It suggests many practical guidelines, forms of action, types of ethos, and modes of interaction directly applicable to some of the most intractable social and political problems we face today. It is a brave and engaged work.”—James Williams, author of Gilles Deleuze’s Logic of Sense
“William E. Connolly has not so much written about a world of becoming as he has enacted it, energized it, opened it into language limpid and alive with the temporal pulsation he narrates. A leading political philosopher here takes politics and philosophy somewhere other than where they have been, somewhere densely enmeshed in the Deleuzian and Whiteheadian philosophies of open-ended process, somewhere strangely hospitable to any thinking—even theological—respectful of its own uncertainty. With him we ‘enter into moments of suspension to allow creative thoughts to gestate when a new fork in time is underway.’ The book is brilliant with metamorphosis.”—Catherine Keller, author of The Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming
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