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The Persistence of the NegativeA Critique of Contemporary Continental Theory$
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Benjamin Noys

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780748638635

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748638635.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Persistence of the Negative

Benjamin Noys

Edinburgh University Press

This introduction traces the rejection of negativity by the major forms of contemporary theory and its replacement by ‘affirmationism’, an alternative stress of the fundamentally affirmative cast of thought. The rejection of negativity is analysed as the result of a desire to find a stable ontological point of resistance against the solvent effects of contemporary capitalism. Its origin is traced to the theorists of desire in the mid-1970s in France, who articulated resistance as the acceleration of the solvent tendencies of capitalism: ‘accelerationism’. With the increasing dominance of capitalism and the collapse of traditional forms of resistance this kind of thinking became untenable. In the context of a capitalism driven by forms of abstraction, especially with new instruments of financialisation, the Introduction argues that affirmationist theory has tried to retrieve points of metaphysical and ontological stability. Against this, it is suggested that a thinking of relational negativity, focused on the question of agency, can better address this political context and retrieve a functional form of negativity as critique.

Keywords:   Negativity, ‘Affirmationism’, Capitalism, ‘Accelerationism’, Abstraction, Critique

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