6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Mr. N. Coombs
- Published on Amazon.com
A time for revolution contains two volumes from distinct points in Negri's career. The essays written in prison, which form the latter half of the book, are what I have read in depth and are what I would like to discuss.
Kairos, Alma Venus and Multitudo represent concurrent and cumulatively logical essays outlining a materialist ontology, tying together as primary concepts a temporal epistemology, ontology of the common, and conceptual framework for differentiated action. To explain this, jargon free, Negri claims that through most of the history of philosophy and of knowing subjects there has been a false transcendental illusion of knowledge that exists external to time, and that this form of knowledge is privileged and replicated by the interests of the powerful. His project is to restore the belief among subjects that change can be affected and of the possibilities time affords. He wishes to tie in this priviledging of the tempral nature of knowledge to a logically consistent ethical basis of the common and refutation of power.
These essays are prefaced by an insightful and absorbing introduction in which Negri explains his tribulations with the state of Italy, and through his elaborate articulation sets himself within the pantheon of philosophical minds. It is not surprising then, especially considering the aim and extent of this project, that a Time for Revolution often comes off as a quasi-mystical Platonic text, evading specificity, and tending towards the very transcendentalism loathed by Negri. Strangely, however, for this reader this logically inconsistent facet of the text is perhaps one of the greatest draws; to enact hope of change: hearts and not just minds are in need of being won over.
Like Spinoza Negri pushes his philosophical message through with sheer eloquence at times, the very mysticism of what is sometimes being proposed gated into sequenced paragraphs.
This book has been an inspiration to me. The density of the writing is so heavy, you feel that perhaps a whole life's thoughts have been compressed into these essays, meaning that with each reading the writing reveals something new. I am currently working on a film about Savonarola that draws on many of the themes in these essays, if you are interested in discussing Negri's work or my film email me at email@example.com
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This book contains two books written by Antonio Negri in a span of 20 years. Negri was involved in the Italian far left Operaismo and Autonomia movements and is deeply inspired by the philosophies of Marx, Deleuze/Guattari and Spinoza.
The first book - 'The Constitution of Time' is written from a Marxist materialist perspective. It starts with the aporias of time in Marx's works, especially 'Capital', 'Grundrisse' and 'Theories of Surplus Value' such as between intensive and extensive labour time, or between the time of historical materialism and subsumed labour time as values in economic circulation. Negri distinguishes three kinds of time in the subsumed time of captialism - collective, productive and constitutive. In each, he distinguishes a concept of time that is oriented to control and another that is oriented to freedom. Finally, he distinguishes positive and negative variants of the 'time for revolution'.
His aim is to lay the foundation for a time of resistance in a world of control. However, his Deleuze/Guattari borrowings and his dogmatic materialism mar his first book. The first book also suffers from an excess of assertoric rather than logico-analytical statements.
The second book - 'Kairos, Alma Venus, Multitudo' represents a real breakthrough in the philosophy of time. Written 20 years later it represents greater intellectual clarity and helps understand the previous work.
Negri says that time is always the tip of the arrow that has been released. Accordingly, being is always in a state of transformation. Past is a psychological construct and so is future. Neither past or future is experienced time. Time as becoming, as tip of the arrow - is neither past nor future but a time when being transforms itself by inaugurating the new or 'to come'. He also criticizes the focus on being and neglect of time in ontology and launches an attack on spatial metaphors of time which represent time as a sort of plane with past, present and future arranged in a line.
He then goes on to explain other concepts like language, love, multitude, power etc. based on his concept of an ontology grounded in time. This second book is remarkable for the step by step way it builds up its arguments.
Despite his strong anti-Hegelianism and rejection of 'dialectics', he uses a very dialectical method of developing his own arguments , in both books. But, that is one of the strengths of the books and not the soruce of their weaknesses.
His weaknesses lie elsewhere. His materialism and his Deleuze/Guattari heritage, leads him to resort to contortions in order to deal with the question of subject and resistance - because like all materialists he seeks to avoid questions about consciousness and will and like post-structuralists he is uneasy with the question of the 'subject'. However, unlike Deleuze/Guattari he does not bypass the question of the subject by reducing living beings to desiring machines or in any other way, but comes with as good an explanation of the concept of 'subject' as is possible from a strictly materialist perspective.