Author: Ian Verstegen

Ploughshares into Swords: On Our Surreptitious Essentialism

The present paper is devoted to addressing the basic asymmetry of a move from what can be called “passive metaphysics” to “active metaphysics,” the overcoming of formalism, structuralism, and semiotics by post-structuralism and its hasty replacement with new forms of thought that presume matter that is alive or animate transparently makes itself available to experiencing subjects, who are affected by it immediately, without mediation, directly. For various reasons, the various forms of thought I will review—historiography, affect, metaphysics—have not cashed out this active metaphysics. But the general orientation remains there, ready to be abused at any time. If postmodernism turned swords into ploughshares, we have recently turned ploughshares into swords.

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