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Paul Reynolds

Real Abstraction: Some Thoughts on Sexuality and Embodied Pleasure


The essence of real abstraction is that the philosophical method of abstraction should be inverted from the essential and ideal to a dialectical tension between the concrete and material world and its processes and how theory and analysis draws out significances in understanding trends, developments and change. Method is always dialectically connected to material and historical ontology, and when abstraction creates self-sustaining ontologies for itself, through the process of intellectual/philosophical labor, these mask the terms of their location within power/knowledge relationships directly emergent from patterns of power, domination, oppression, exploitation and alienation.

I want to explore this in the context of how sexuality and embodied pleasure are explored and understood in modern and contemporary capitalism. This takes a phenomenological turn and explores the tensions and contradictions of quantification/quality, the composition of embodied value in spatial, temporal and conjunctural contexts, and the contours of alienation, subjectivity and pleasure.

‘Sexual Capitalism: Marxist Reflections on Sexual Politics, Culture and Economy in the 21st Century’, Triple C: Communication, Capitalism and Critique Special issue on Karl Marx @ 200: Debating Capitalism & Perspectives for the Future of Radical Theory 16(2): 696-706

file:///C:/Users/Paul/Downloads/995-Article%20Text-4299-1-10-20180504.pdf(translated into Turkish in Praksis 48 [2019] p132-141

Paul Reynolds is a member of the Editorial Board of Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory. Amongst other involvements he is also Co-Convenor of the International Network for Sexual Ethics and Politics (INSEP)

and Co-Director of the Cultural Difference and Social Solidarity Network,

and Co-Series Editor of the new University of Bristol/Policy Press Book Series on ‘Sex and Intimacy in Later Life’ (with Trish Hafford-Letchfield and Paul Simpson).

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