Speaking against number : Heidegger, language and the politics of calculation


Speaking against number : Heidegger, language and the politics of calculation

Stuart Elden

(Taking on the political)

Edinburgh University Press, 2006

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Includes indexes



Numbers and politics are inter-related at almost every level -- be it the abstract geometry of understandings of territory, the explosion of population statistics and measures of economic standards, the popularity of Utilitarianism, Rawlsian notions of justice, the notion of value, or simply the very idea of political science. Time and space are reduced to co-ordinates, illustrating a very real take on the political: a way of measuring and controlling it. This book engages with the relation between politics and number through a reading, exegesis and critique of the work of Martin Heidegger. The importance of mathematics and the role played by the understandings of calculation is a recurrent concern in his writing and is regularly contrasted with understandings of speech and language. This book provides the most detailed analysis of the relation between language, politics and mathematics in Heidegger's work. It insists that questions of language and calculation in Heidegger are inherently political, and that a far broader range of his work is concerned with politics than is usually admitted. Key Features: *A unique introduction to the political dimension of Heidegger's work, opening it up to a wider audience *Offers an original exploration of the relationship between language, mathematics and politics in Heidegger's thinking *Shows how questions of politics and calculation are inter-related in modern conceptions of the political Books in the series are...Valentine and Arditi Polemicization Shapiro Cinematic Political Thought Chambers Untimely Politics Elden Speaking Against Number Bowman Post-Marxism Versus Cultural Studies Marchart Post-Foundational Political Thought Little Democratic Piety


  • Introduction
  • 1. Speaking: Rhetorical Politics
  • 2. Against: Polemical Politics
  • 3. Number: Calculative Politics
  • Conclusion: Taking the Measure of the Political.

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