Materialism: A Caring Obituary

Baldissone, Riccardo 2022. Materialism: A Caring Obituary. Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman. 2 (1).

TitleMaterialism: A Caring Obituary
TypeJournal article
AuthorsBaldissone, Riccardo

The notion of materialism initially appears in the writings of its Christian opponents in late seventeenth-century England. Only in eighteenth-century France materialism is first posthumously claimed by a catholic priest, Meslier, and then by authors such as La Mettrie and d’Holbach, at the risk of persecution and imprisonment: Diderot enjoys the hospitality of the fortress of Vincennes for rearranging the materialist stance within his sensualist multiverse. In the nineteenth century, Marx reshapes materialism as part of his critique to decontextualized knowledge. Stirner’s discontent with naturalistic objectivity anticipates Nietzsche’s rejection of matter in favour of practices: Engels’ historical materialism and his ahistorical dichotomic construction of materialism versus idealism are instead embraced by Lenin via Plekhanov, and they are further simplified by Stalin. Nietzsche’s approach is recovered by Foucault, Deleuze, and Derrida, who challenge both political and theoretical representation. More recently, Barad recasts this challenge into a processual vocabulary, which renews the semantic constellation of realism, materialism, and materiality. Whilst not dismissing Barad’s new tools, the essay suggests raising the wager: it proposes to extend its own genealogical practice, which reconnects materialism (and matter) with its historical process of production, to any other theoretical object. This recomposition may not only disentangle us from the lexicon of entities – including materialism and matter – but it may also help to construct a novel and potentially hegemonic language of practices.

KeywordsBarad, , , matter, Meslier, practices
JournalAnthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman
Journal citation2 (1)
PublisherUniversity of Westminster Press
Publisher's version
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
Published04 Jan 2022

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Baldissone, Riccardo 2021. On Thinking in the Anthropocene: A Sketch of a Proposal. Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman.

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