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The Post-Industrial Imagination: A Media-Philosophical Inquiry into a Post-Capitalist Future





Specialization: English Degree: Doctor of Philosophy Abstract: This doctoral dissertation investigates potential political shifts introduced by the post-industrialization of Western societies. After a genealogical analysis that explains why the dimension of the technological has become an increasingly important site of politics for Marxist theory in the post-industrial age, the dissertation examines the work of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in order to demonstrate the contradictory way in which these theorists argue that the rise of new information and communication media has actually resulted in a lack or absence of mediation in a political sense. This dissertation asserts that this contradictory formulation of the politics of the post-industrial society is demonstrative of a conceptual incompatibility between contemporary media theory and political philosophy, and, accordingly, the remainder of the dissertation attempts to reconstruct the relationship between these otherwise disparate fields of thought, through a practice described within as comparative political mediaolgy. This combined media and politico-philosophical approach begins with a reading of Plato’s Republic, in which it is argued that Plato’s famous expulsion of the poets from his ideal republic is evidence that media theory and political philosophy in fact share a common genealogical root. Through a close reading of the Republic, this dissertation argues that Plato’s philosophical critique of poetry was not in fact designed to limit discourse within the city-state but was rather an attempt to push the epistemological field of Greek culture beyond the confines of mere handed-down tradition. The final chapter of the dissertation then narrows the object inquiry from the larger field of epistemology to more focused object of political philosophy by theorizing Immanuel Kant’s political theory in conjunction with print technology. Building on Benedict Anderson’s concept of “print capitalism,” this chapter argues that print technology is not merely part of the historical background of Kant’s political thought, but in fact fulfils an important categorical function within his political theory itself: specifically, print technology is proffered by Kant as a solution to the liberal-republican dilemma of how to politicize the modern liberal subject without cancelling out its underlying privatized ontology, which is necessary for the continued reproduction of market society. The dissertation then concludes with some reflections on the historical interconnectedness between print capitalism and liberal political philosophy and argues that the decline of print technology in the post-industrial age offers an opportunity to move beyond the negative freedom characteristic of modern political thought.

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