Gillian Rose

Gillian Rose: A Good Enough Justice

Kate Schick
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 208
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Gillian Rose
    Book Description:

    Makes the case for the rediscovery of British philosopher Gillian Rose’s unique but neglected voiceIn this book, Kate Schick presents the core themes of Rose’s work and locates her ideas within central debates in contemporary social theory (trauma and memory, exclusion and difference, tragedy and messianic utopia), engaging with the works of Benjamin, Honig, Žižek and Butler. She shows how Rose’s speculative perspective brings a different gaze to bear on debates, eschewing well-worn liberal, critical theoretic and post-structural positions. Gillian Rose draws on idiosyncratic readings of thinkers such as Hegel, Adorno and Kierkegaard to underpin her philosophy, negotiating the ‘broken middle’ between the particular and the universal. While of the left, she is sharply critical of much left-wing thought, insisting that it shirks the work of coming to know and of taking political risk in pursuit of a ‘good enough justice’.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-5558-8
    Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Gillian Rose is an important, but neglected philosopher. She is neglected partly because she is a difficult thinker, who revels in the difficulty of her philosophy, and partly because she is a creative thinker, who falls outside established and easily defined schools of thought. This book makes a case for the timely intervention of Rose’s thought and introduces readers to its central themes, without stripping her work of the crucial element of struggle that is at its core. Rose’s writing is not easily accessible; however, it rewards extended engagement and has important things to say to the contemporary Left. While,...

  5. Part 1: Speculative Philosophy
    • Chapter 1 Speculative Dialectics
      (pp. 17-35)

      Rose finds in Hegel a radical speculative philosophy that informs her whole oeuvre: an approach saturated by critical reflection and recognition. In Rose’s work, everything starts with Hegel and is grounded in her speculative interpretation of his thought. She arrives at this reading through critical engagement with what she sees as Adorno’s provocative, but problematic reading of Hegel. In this chapter, I provide an exegesis of the speculative Hegelian core of Rose’s philosophy by situating her interpretation of Hegel against her interpretation of Adorno.

      Speculative philosophy takes the political seriously: it does the difficult work of the middle, rather than...

    • Chapter 2 The Broken Middle
      (pp. 36-54)

      This chapter deepens our understanding of speculative philosophy: it applies Rose’s speculative Hegelianism to her conception of the broken middle and explores its outworking, in response to the brokenness of modernity. Whereas in Chapter 1, Hegel Contra Sociology was the focus of exegesis, in this chapter, The Broken Middle: Out of Our Ancient Society is the central focus. In this, Rose’s most challenging work, she deepens her critique of old (liberal) and new (postmodern) philosophy: the old, for its prescription and progressivism, and the new, for its rejection of the struggle to know and to judge. Both of these approaches...

  6. Part 2: Speculative Politics
    • Chapter 3 Trauma, Memory and the Political
      (pp. 57-80)

      Rose’s speculative philosophy insists on the need for a political work of mourning, in response to the trauma that attends the broken middle.¹ For Rose, this trauma arises out of a diremption, or brokenness, that is both philosophical and actual: it operates at the level of thought, which is permeated by one-sidedness and neglects the work of the middle, and at the level of lived experience, which is permeated by injustice and continuing ‘disasters of modernity’.² Rose maintains that philosophical dichotomies reflect underlying social relations and that both should be responded to with a political work of mourning. A work...

    • Chapter 4 Cosmopolitanism, Difference and Aporetic Universalism
      (pp. 81-104)

      In the previous chapter, I considered dominant responses to trauma and contrasted Rosean inaugurated mourning with melancholic alternatives. In this chapter, I explore theoretical responses to the mundane, everyday experiences of exclusion and difference. I argue that Rose’s aporetic universalism offers an important alternative to dominant discourses about difference, refusing reification of universality or particularity, in favour of a difficult negotiation of the middle.

      One of the legacies of the Enlightenment is a cosmopolitan sensibility that sets its face against boundaries that would exclude and suppress the Other. In its liberal incarnation, cosmopolitanism insists that individuals have rights by virtue...

    • Chapter 5 Between Tragedy and Utopia
      (pp. 105-126)

      In the previous chapter, I examined dominant approaches to thinking about exclusion and otherness: liberal abstract universality and postmodern difference. I argued that both approaches obfuscate the self and Other and that by working against recognition, they fail to negotiate the dilemma of difference in any meaningful sense. Although liberal cosmopolitanism and postmodern alterity are two prominent alternatives embraced by the Left in the wake of the fall of Communism, dissatisfaction with the paucity of the political of the former and the new essentialism of the latter has prompted the revival of two (more radical) alternatives: political realism and messianic...

  7. Conclusion
    (pp. 127-130)

    Gillian Rose’s difficult project seeks to rehabilitate reason and critique. For Rose, both the ‘enlightened reason’¹ of liberalism and the abandonment of reason by postmodernism refuse to do the difficult work of the middle and, thus, in their different ways, invalidate critique. Critique has, at its foundation, an engagement with embedded actuality – with the broken middle and its institutions – and with our role as agents within ‘the law and its commotion’.²

    Rose’s speculative philosophy is emphatically against ignorance. It struggles towards comprehension of the gap between the promises of modern law and the social and political actuality in which they...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 131-162)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 163-174)
  10. Index
    (pp. 175-184)