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Intensive Culture
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Intensive Culture
Social Theory, Religion & Contemporary Capitalism



June 2010 | 256 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Contemporary culture, today's capitalism - our global information society - is ever expanding, is ever more extensive. And yet we seem to be experiencing a parallel phenomenon which can only be characterised as intensive. This thought provoking, innovative book is dedicated to the study of such intensive culture. Whilst extensive culture is a culture of the same: a culture of fixed equivalence; intensive culture is a culture of difference, of in-equivalence - the singular. Intensities generate what we encounter. They are virtuals or possibilities, always in process and always in movement.

We thus live in a culture that is both extensive and intensive. Indeed the more globally stretched and extensive social relations become the more they simultaneously seem to take on this intensity. Ours is a relational world where each intensity ? whether human, technological or biological ? provides a distinct, specific window onto the whole.

Lash tracks the emergence and pervasion of this intensive culture in society, religion, philosophy, language, communications, politics and the neo-liberal economy itself.

In so doing he redefines the work of Leibniz, Benjamin, Simmel, and Durkheim and inititates the reader into the ontological structures of our contemporary social relations. In the pursuit of intensive culture the reader is taken on an excursion from Karl Marx's Capital to the 'information theology' in the science fiction of Philip K. Dick.

Diverse, engaging and rich in detail the resulting book will be of interest to all those studying social and cultural theory, sociology, media and communication and cultural studies

 
Introduction
Culture: Extensive and Intensive

 
What is Intensive Culture?

 
Ontology and Religion

 
Overview

 
Social Theory

 
 
Intensive Sociology: Georg Simmel's Vitalism
Forms: From Cognitive a priori to Social a priori

 
Value: Nietzsche and Simmel

 
Social substance: from Labour to Life

 
Monadology: Simmel, Bergson, Metaphysics

 
Conclusions: Towards a Global Politics of Flux

 
 
Intensive Philosophy: Leibniz and the Ontology of Difference
Leibniz, Aristotle, Ontology

 
Sensation, Perception, Knowledge

 
Intensive Causation

 
Language: Intrinsic Predication

 
Substance and System: From Exchange of Equivalents to Exchange of Difference

 
 
Intensive Language: Benjamin, God and the Name
Leibniz and Benjamin: From the Monad to the Word

 
Intensive Method: From Epistemology to Truth

 
Language: Things, Man and God

 
 
Intensive Capitalism: Marxist Ontology
Introduction: From Commodity to Difference

 
Causation and value: Aristotle and Marx

 
Externalities: Intensive Capitalism and Neo-Liberalism

 
Financialization

 
The Intensive-material: Machines of Predication

 
 
Intensive Politics: Power after Hegemony
Language: Power becomes Ontological

 
Two Types of Power

 
From Norm to Fact

 
From Representation to Communication

 
Cultural Studies: First and Second Wave

 
 
Intensive Religion: Emile Durkheim's Elementary Forms
The Soul: From Rite and Totem to Myth and Ancestor

 
The Totem: Clan and Emblem

 
Alimentary Communion

 
Totemic Vitalism: Durkheim and Freud

 
Extensive Religion: Sociological Categories

 
The Social Fact: Metaphysical Things

 
 
Information Theology: Philip K. Dick's Will to Knowledge
Transmigration

 
(a) Faith versus knowledge

 
(b) Dick's St. Paul: Against Law and the Messianic

 
(c) Christ's mushroom: Salvation by Eating

 
(d) Vast Active Living Intelligence System

 
The Gnosticism of Philip K. Dick

 
Horselover Fat: Healing the Subject

 
Valis: The Movie

 
 
Conclusions
Intensity: Ontology and Religion

 
Intensity's Outside: Chinese Social Theory?

 

This book makes a vital contribution to our understanding of contemporary culture. It re-reads key thinkers such as Nietzsche, Leibniz, Simmel, Benjamin, Bergson in order to assert the primacy of the vital and the social against the closed mind of instrumental reason. It develops an innovative theoretical platform to account for the place of the informational, the intensive, and the religious for re-thinking the fundamental questions of life, and how to live today. It is a fitting summation of Scott Lash's challenging reorganization of critical and sociological theory
Couze Venn
Nottingham Trent University


This book is an engagement with the continuing dissolution of the symbolic in contemporary communication, in a critical reflection on thinkers ranging from Aristotle to Leibniz to Luhmann. It is a provocative archaeology of today's 'cultural capitalism' and of its metaphysical baggage. For Scott Lash the opposition between 'intensive' and the 'extensive', i.e. Leibniz's distinction between 'substance' and 'system', is eroded in the age of informational capitalism, as words become things and things become data. For Lash the future of capitalism is one in which this intensity takes over the logic - as 'intensive materialism' - of the economy itself. Yet this very process entails the dissolution of both intensity and with it of the singular. Lash pursues this compelling line of thought through encounters with Simmel, Benjamin, Durkheim and Philip K. Dick (!)
Bernard Stiegler
Director of the Department of Cultural Development at the Centre Georges-Pompidou

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1: Introduction


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