Bringing together authors from two intellectual traditions that have, so far, generally developed independently of one another – critical theory and new materialism – this book addresses the fundamental differences and potential connections that exist between these two schools of thought. With a focus on some of the most pressing questions of contemporary philosophy and social theory – in particular, those concerning the status of long-standing and contested separations between matter and life, the biological and the symbolic, passivity and agency, affectivity and rationality – it shows that recent developments in both traditions point to important convergences between them and thus prepare the ground for a more direct confrontation and cross-fertilization. The first volume to promote a dialogue between critical theory and new materialism, this collection explores the implications for contemporary debates on ecology, gender, biopolitics, post-humanism, economics and aesthetics. As such, it will appeal to philosophers, social and political theorists, and sociologists with interests in contemporary critical theory and materialism.

chapter 1|16 pages


Critical Theory and New Materialisms – fit, strain or contradiction?

part 1|51 pages

Nature in/of Critical Theory

chapter 2|12 pages

Comprehending society’s “Other”

Nature in Critical Theory

chapter 4|17 pages

Resonance and Critical Theory

chapter 5|9 pages

Responsive encounters

Latour’s modes of being and the sociology of world relations

part 2|71 pages

The powers of matter, life and affect

chapter 6|13 pages

Power, affect, society

Critical theory and the challenges of (Neo-)Spinozism *

chapter 7|11 pages


The affective continuity of the social in Spinoza

chapter 9|16 pages

Life as the subject of society

Critical vitalism as critical social theory

chapter 10|17 pages

Pathology and vitality

On the crisis of modern life-forms

part 3|63 pages

Critique in/of New Materialism

chapter 11|11 pages

Doing justice to that which matters

Subjectivity and the politics of New Materialism

chapter 12|10 pages

Reading after Barad (and Blumenberg)

Diffraction and human agency

chapter 14|13 pages

Visiting artists with Latour

The materiality of artistic practices and the claims of critical theory

chapter 15|12 pages

Materialism, energy and acceleration

New materialism versus critical theory on the momentum of modernity