Indeed, the bulk of the book attempts a close reading of both Kant and Marx to show that an adequate understanding of each brings out hidden, usually invisible dimensions of both. It is fascinating, indeed, to see how an academically rich and well-informed reconstruction of thinkers like Kant and Marx can be made to speak to pressing current issues, namely the development of alternatives to global exploitation and the unjust distribution of wealth. Similarly, each thinker is taken to exemplify this approach on his own. The second major similarity between Kant and Marx, as I read Karatani, consists in their understanding of reality as mediated by forms. What appears in Kant as categorial and intuitive forms of experience, and in Marx as value form, finds a common source in a conception of experience—and thus of subjective thought and individuality—as pre-constructed by media.
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Indeed, the bulk of the book attempts a close reading of both Kant and Marx to show that an adequate understanding of each brings out hidden, usually invisible dimensions of both.
It is fascinating, indeed, to see how an academically rich and well-informed reconstruction of thinkers like Kant and Marx can be made to speak to pressing current issues, namely the development of alternatives to global exploitation and the unjust distribution of wealth. Similarly, each thinker is taken to exemplify this approach on his own. The second major similarity between Kant and Marx, as I read Karatani, consists in their understanding of reality as mediated by forms.
What appears in Kant as categorial and intuitive forms of experience, and in Marx as value form, finds a common source in a conception of experience—and thus of subjective thought and individuality—as pre-constructed by media. I would consider this claim toward a mediation of experience—whether in the symbolic form of cognitive categories or in the economico-symbolic form of money—as the essential move toward relating Kant and Marx.
The experience is illusion, but at the same time perceived as necessary. In compelling passages of rereading Marx, we are told about the intrinsically religious, since projective and illusionary character of capitalist economy, which entails its own metaphysics and religion in commodity fetishism. Third, the reconstruction of the mediated nature of capitalist economy enables a subtle position in-between a determinism cementing the status quo and a revolutionary project of a wholesale overthrow of capitalism a position admittedly not much defended today.
In this gap between appearance and the thing-in-itself resides an essential possibility to challenge, revise, and transcend the current order. Moreover, Kant addresses the need to go beyond the mere experience of appearances in the ethical domain, where his categorical imperative gives immediate proof of the law of reason.
The Kantian path to ethical transcendence is crucial, first, since it suggests the content of the categorical imperative in the famous third formulation , i. Moreover, Karatani maintains that this shows that Kant situates this ethical demand squarely in the emerging capitalistic order, as the imperative to treat another never merely as a means is clearly taking into account the capitalistic mode of instrumental action, in which others are economically reduced to mere means.
For Karatani here similar to Frankfurt School Marxism , the Marxian enterprise makes sense only against the backdrop of a normative vision, which is implicitly entailed in concepts such as exploitation, alienation, revolution, and, of course, communism, and which can be explicated with reference to Kant.
So far, so good. We might now be more willing to accept Kant and Marx as possible companions in the trans- critique of capitalism. But this big picture needs a lot of filling in, which is precisely what the interpretive analyses of the book are about. Indeed, both Kant and Marx are explicated with regard to frequently invoked structuralist or holistic models of language references range from Cassirer to Saussure, Jakobson, and Wittgenstein.
Karatani does not only read Kant or Marx closely, but fills this reading with numerous, indeed at times exuberant references to other theorists and ideas, either to support or to contrast the idea at stake. Perhaps, then, certain questions concerning the specific and doubtlessly original readings of Kant and Marx could have been addressed better.
Capital creates human relations through commodity exchange via money, the state is based on the principle of plunder and redistribution, and the nation is grounded in the principle of gift and return. Even though analytically independent, the value form of money allowed the forging of the synthesis of the modern capitalistic nation-state.
At the same time, capitalism always remains parasitic on lifeworld backgrounds. He thus arrives at a reevaluation of the source of anti-capitalistic action, inasmuch as the true power of the worker resides in his role as consumer, on which capital essentially depends for the creation of surplus value.
The ethico-economic model combines moments from the state equality , where strangers encounter one another, and the nation fraternity , where subjects are empathetically concerned with one another while thereby, I presume, allowing for free self-realization.
Accordingly, Karatani argues that the exchange mode of money is but one of four forms of human interaction. Capitalism thus involves more than a narrowly defined economic infrastructure. Yet what we would need, then, is a more broadly conceived model of symbolic and cultural exchange, both to explain economic power and to point to a path of possible resistance.
The so-called postmodern theorists including Michel Foucault on power and Pierre Bourdieu on symbolic capital and habitus , which Karatani ignores, could have taught valuable lessons in this regard.
Transcritique: On Kant and Marx
In a direct challenge to standard academic approaches to both thinkers, Karatani's transcritical readings discover the ethical roots of socialism in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and a Kantian critique of money in Marx's Capital. Karatani reads Kant as a philosopher who sought to wrest metaphysics from the discredited realm of theoretical dogma in order to restore it to its proper place in the sphere of ethics and praxis. With this as his own critical model, he then presents a reading of Marx that attempts to liberate Marxism from longstanding Marxist and socialist presuppositions in order to locate a solid theoretical basis for a positive activism capable of gradually superseding the trinity of Capital-Nation-State. An immensely ambitious theoretical edifice in which new relations between Kant and Marx are established, as well as a new kind of synthesis between Marxism and anarchism. The book is timely from both practical and theoretical perspectives, and stands up well against a tradition of Marx exegesis that runs from Rosdolsky and Korsch to Althusser and Tony Smith.
Transcritique: On Kant and Marx, Kojin Karatani
On Kant and Marx. This duality, signalling the gap that separates production from consumption, is a case of what, in his formidable Transcritique. Karatani starts with the question: what is the appropriate response when we are confronted with an antinomy in the precise Kantian sense of the term? One should, on the contrary, assert antinomy as irreducible, and conceive the point of radical critique not as a determinate position as opposed to another position, but as the irreducible gap between the positions—the purely structural interstice between them. Marx treated this opposition as a Kantian antinomy—that is, value has to originate both outside circulation, in production, and within circulation. The price [of iron expressed in gold], while on the one hand indicating the amount of labour-time contained in the iron, namely its value, at the same time signifies the pious wish to convert the iron into gold, that is to give the labour-time contained in the iron the form of universal social labour-time.
While teaching at Hosei University , Tokyo, he wrote extensively about modernity and postmodernity with a particular focus on language, number, and money, concepts that form the subtitle of one of his central books: Architecture as Metaphor. In , he was invited to Yale University to teach Japanese literature as a visiting professor , where he met Paul de Man and Fredric Jameson and began to work on formalism. Karatani collaborated with novelist Kenji Nakagami , to whom he introduced the works of Faulkner. Since , Karatani has been regularly teaching at Columbia University as a visiting professor. Karatani has produced philosophical concepts, such as "the will to architecture ", which he calls the foundation of all Western thinking,  but the best-known of them is probably that of "Transcritique", which he proposed in his book Transcritique , where he reads Kant through Marx and vice versa. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. In this Japanese name , the family name is Karatani.