Philosophy & Critical Theory
Books in this online selection represent only a sliver of what we offer in the store. If you've got a particular book in mind and want to check on its availability, call us at 415-362-8193.

   
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Why Does the World Exist?
An Existential Detective Story
Jim Holt
In this astonishing and profound work, an irreverent sleuth traces the riddle of existence from the ancient world to modern times. Whether framed philosophically as "Why is there a world rather than nothing at all?" or more colloquially as...
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The Trouble with Being Born
E. M. Cioran
Crotchety old man snarks about the pointlessness of life. Wonderful. —Recommended by Vanessa, City Lights Books
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Pataphysical Essays
René Daumal
Pataphysical Essays collects Daumal's overtly pataphysical writings from 1929 to 1941, from his landmark exposition on pataphysics and laughter to his late essay, "The Pataphysics of Ghosts." Daumal's "Treatise on Patagrams" offers the reader...
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The Grey Album
On the Blackness of Blackness
Kevin Young
Taking its title from Danger Mouse's pioneering mashup of Jay-Z's The Black Album and the Beatles' The White Album, Kevin Young’s encyclopedic book combines essay, cultural criticism, and lyrical chorus to illustrate the African American tradition of...
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Madness
The Invention of an Idea
Michel Foucault
Compelling and highly influential, Michel Foucault's Madness is an indispensable work for readers who wish to understand the intellectual evolution of one of the most important social theorists of the twentieth century. Written in 1954 and revised...
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A Lover's Discourse
Fragments
Roland Barthes
A Lover’s Discourse, at its 1978 publication, was revolutionary: Roland Barthes made unprecedented use of the tools of structuralism to explore the whimsical phenomenon of love. Rich with references ranging from Goethe’s Werther to Winnicott, from...
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Camera Lucida
Reflections on Photography
Roland Barthes
A graceful, contemplative volume, Camera Lucida was first published in 1979. Commenting on artists such as Avedon, Clifford, Mapplethorpe, and Nadar, Roland Barthes presents photography as being outside the codes of language or culture, acting on the...
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This Is Not a Pipe
25th Anniversary Edition
Michel Foucault, James Harkness
What does it mean to write "This is not a pipe" across a bluntly literal painting of a pipe? René Magritte's famous canvas provides the starting point for a delightful homage by French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault. Much better known for...
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The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media
Walter Benjamin
Benjamin’s famous “Work of Art” essay sets out his boldest thoughts—on media and on culture in general—in their most realized form, while retaining an edge that gets under the skin of everyone who reads it. In this essay the visual arts of the...
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Archaeologies of the Future
The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions
Fredric Jameson
In an age of globalization characterized by the dizzying technologies of the First World, and the social disintegration of the Third, is the concept of utopia still meaningful? Archaeologies of the Future, Jameson's most substantial work since...
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Aesthetics and Politics
Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Bertolt Brecht, Georg Lukacs
An intense and lively debate on literature and art between thinkers who became some of the great figures of twentieth-century philosophy and literature. No other country and no other period has produced a tradition of major aesthetic debate to...
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The Absence of Myth
Writings on Surrealism
Georges Bataille
Georges Bataille was one of the most provocative and controversial writers of his time. These essays, the result of profound reflection in the wake of World War II, comprise his most incisive study of surrealism, insisting on its importance as a...
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Minima Moralia
Reflections on a Damaged Life
Theodor Adorno
A reflection on everyday existence in the "sphere of consumption of late Capitalism," this work is Adorno's literary and philosophical masterpiece.
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Beyond Good and Evil
Friedrich Nietzsche
This work dramatically rejects the tradition of Western thought with its notions of truth and God, good and evil. Nietzsche demonstrates that the Christian world is steeped in a false piety and infected with a "slave morality." With wit and energy, he tur

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