Senses of Upheaval

Senses of Upheaval

Philosophical Snapshots of a Decade

By Michael Marder

Spanning a decade of Michael Marder’s contributions as a public intellectual, Senses of Upheaval documents a period of exceptional global turmoil in intellectual, cultural, technological and political spheres.

Hardback, 168 Pages


November 2021

£80.00, $125.00

  • About This Book
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About This Book

Spanning a decade of Michael Marder’s contributions as a public intellectual, Senses of Upheavals documents a period of exceptional global turmoil. Thrown into mayhem by right-wing populisms and a pandemic, combined with skyrocketing economic inequalities and worsening environmental crises, the world is on the verge of collapse. Could revolutionary practical-intellectual proposals to learn how to coexist from plants or to rethink the very meaning of energy chart the way to a better, more livable, and, perhaps, calmer world? Nonetheless, such proposals themselves constitute nothing short of an upheaval in philosophy, plant sciences, and environmental studies. We are doomed to upheavals, it seems; the point is not to deflect, but to choose judiciously among them.


“This is required reading for anyone who wants to catch our global, national, local vanishing present and to make sense of the alarming future. Politics, culture, the intellect, technology – Marder’s risk-taking interventions have embraced our struggles in these areas over the years. Senses of Upheaval allows us to see the principles holding them together.”
—Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor, Columbia University, US and educational/ecological activist

“Very few philosophers are capacious enough in their thinking and erudite enough in their analysis to make meaningful interventions all the way from the microbial to the global. Michael Marder is one of these rare thinkers, and this collection of short essays confirms his status as a major public intellectual—part poet, part precision bomb. This book is essential for understanding the seismic upheavals that characterise our times.”
—Anthony Morgan, editor of The Philosopher

“The razor-sharp gems in Senses of Upheaval reflect contemporary anxieties over the porosity of borders through the rare prism of philosophy, politics, environment, culture, and personal experience. These provocative tidbits from one of the most incisive intellectuals of our time are a must-read for anyone trying to understand the contradictory forces pulling our worlds apart. From Twitter to trees, from Trump to “taking a knee,” from Covid to clean air, from Europe to Chernobyl, in these short essays, Michael Marder travels to the ends of the earth and back again.”
—Kelly Oliver, W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University

“Michael Marder’s Senses of Upheaval provides something unique: a philosophical snapshot of the last decade we have lived together as a human collective, a decade whose multiple and diverse crises are united by a sense that the world is losing its character of being habitable. Nourished by an uncommon combination of acute critical sensibility and broad-ranging philosophical and cultural references, Marder’s book challenges us to grapple with our responsibilities, our possibilities, and our abilities in the face of an existence and on the surface of a planet that no longer promise us the kind of stability we have always assumed they would."
—William Egginton, Decker Professor in the Humanities and Director of Alexander Grass Humanities Institute, Johns Hopkins University

"Get ready for a thrilling philosophical ride through today's convulsed world--the ride equipped solely with the relaxed lucidity of reflection."
—Daniel Innerarity, Professor of Philosophy and Director of Globernance Institute, San Sebastian

Author Information

Michael Marder is Ikerbasque Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.


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Table of Contents

A Sense of Upheaval; Part I. Political Upheaval; 1. Rating Sovereignty; 2. The Unfinished Collapse of the Soviet Union; 3. We, the Orphans of October; 4. Incendiary Words and the Volcano of Occupation; 5. Can There Be Poetry after Netanyahu?; 6. Marginalizing Europe; 7. The European Union and the Rhetoric of Immaturity; 8. Trump Metaphysics; 9. The Con Artistry of the Deal: Trump, the Reality TV President; 10. Covid- 19: This Is Not a War; 11. Going Viral, or The Coronavirus Is Us; 12. Can Democracy Save the Planet?; Part II. Cultural Upheaval; 1. On Knees and Elbows; 2. Being in Exile from Oneself; 3. The Muslim “No”; 4. Don’t Keep Calm! And Don’t Carry On!; 5. Uncultured Austerity; 6. A Genealogy of Enjoyment; 7. The Two Suns of Europe; 8. For the Love of a City; 9. What Horse Meat Tells Us about Ourselves; 10. Contagion: Before and after Covid-19; Part III. Intellectual Upheaval; 1. A Fight for the Right to Read Heidegger; 2. Heidegger’s Thinking Today Is, Perhaps, the Possibility of the World; 3. Plus de restes: Remembering Jacques Derrida; 4. The Philosopher’s Beard; 5. Naturalize This! Analytic Philosophy and the Logic of Reactive Neutralization; 6. Jokes and Their Relation to Crisis; 7. Position as a Political Category: Phenomenology and the Eroticism of Power; 8. The Powerlessness of Philosophy; Part IV. Technological Upheaval; 1. Chernobyl as an Event; 2. Nuclear Mourning; 3. The Meaning of “Clean Energy”; 4. Without Clean Air, We Have Nothing (with Luce Irigaray); 5. Poland’s Bialowieza: Losing the Forest and the Trees; 6. Just Randomness?; 7. The Idea of Following in the Age of Twitter; The Upheavals Yet to Come; Notes.


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